Career advice: choosing one offer over another
June 9, 2012 7:24 AM   Subscribe

When given two job offers, do you go for the job you field you want at a lower tier company or a placed job at a top tier company?

I am in the oil and gas industry and currently working (four years exp w/ almost senior credentials) in a mixed field of finance and engineering (project controls). I am looking to leave my company because it isn't a proper fit as I don't feel I have any growth potential and no longer feel valued. Over the past two months, I put in a lot of resumes and applications throughout the industry and got some bites. I received three interviews, two from an operator (a company that is the highest in the oil and gas market: think Shell or Chevron) and one at a direct, but larger competitor (large (EPC) Engineering, Procurement,and Construction company - think Jacobs or Bechtel that perform work contracted by the operators). The way things have spanned out are I applied at said operator for two positions: one as a junior version of my role (cost analysis - a title step down, but with great growth potential and what I want my career to be) and a newly created role (not junior) my recruiter placed me in which is more finance & accounting related (financial analysis - I applied at their recommendation without any thought of getting/accepting it), but apparently has just as great opportunities to move up (2 year rotations within the department)... just not where I am 100% interested, but don't know all the details. (Please note that both jobs communicate to one another, but are not in the same departments and have completely different management).

Long story short, both interviews go well, but I find out that the department (cost analysis) I want to be in has a longer waiting period and defers their offer to the financial analysis group in order to get me into the company faster. My heart has sank into my stomach at this news because I'm afraid that a career change, even slight one, will jeopardize my opportunities to reach my goals of project controls. At my current company, I understand how extremely difficult it is to move around and as I don't know any better, assume that all places are much like this. The recruiter there (who I might add is a trusted friend) has reassured me that movement is not a problem, but that I should take the role for a year (company minimum) to learn the business and then attempt the move as needed because I need to keep my eye on the long-term opportunities.

Next situation, my interview goes very well at the EPC company and I'm offered a job there too... in the field I am currently in with promises of growth, travel, potential, higher salary, and everything better than what I currently have. This company is an excellent one that has a large impact in the market, but many at my firm left here (albeit 5-10 years ago) because of the issues with bureaucracy, limited growth potential, and a corporate culture that pigeon holes their employees (sounds familiar...). I've never traveled and the role I am offered at the operator won't have any and being a single guy, this appeals to me, but unfortunately, the perks and benefits of an EPC cannot touch the Operator... just the nature of the oil and gas tiered market.

I have several colleagues moving to this operator and to this EPC, but only to leave my current employer and unfortunately... they're not in my field. A lot of advice I've received is that I would be dumb to pass up on an Operator because it's easier to move within a company than to come off the street and their HR departments remember if you pass them up. On the other hand, the EPC role is what I know I want to do for a career, available right now, without any need to persuade department heads of an internal move and the project controls certifications I'm studying for (at this moment) won't go to waste.

Needless to say, I'm nervous about deciding the best options for the future:
1) Take a job I've been placed into at the Operator (the highest level of the industry, most difficult to get into, and an EPC's client) and hopefully get to where I want to be. -OR-
2) Take a job that I know very well and can tackle to a great career, but cannot compete with the benefits of the other position and also has a similar corporate culture of the one I am leaving.
posted by sleazy_e to Work & Money (2 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I work in the legal field. I left a job to tackle a different and more challenging position that required me to start over in an area I wasn't familiar with. Then I left that job to go to one that I already knew how to do.

Movement in any organization is hard to do. There's always going to be someone to compete with inside or outside the company that wants the opportunity. However, if the new job at the EPC has the same culture as your present position, you're going to feel pigeonholed eventually and all that extra salary will do is delay the inevitable.

I would take the Operator position. It seems like it's a bigger outfit. Culture could be a reason why it's harder to move up internally. At this Operator place, it seems like there should be more churn because it is bigger and people move up or out. If it doesn't work out, I would imagine you will still be a good fit for an EPC role and you can leave the Operator.

It sounds like it's harder to get placed at the Operator job. It seems like a risk that you're able to take as a single person.
posted by abdulf at 7:56 AM on June 9, 2012

I work in the Energy industry in Houston (although not in your specific field) and have worked for several of the majors and one of the large EPCM companies here. I would take the position with the operator.

About EPCM right now: Hiring has picked up significantly, the rates are very good, and the promises are nice. I worked for one that had (in 2009) "the largest backlog in the industry." Then the economy sunk, the backlog was put on hold by the clients, and they had mostly unreported layoffs. This is the way it works -- tremendous staffing up, then tremendous layoffs. The rates and perks are great, but realize that it can all go away pretty fast. This company told me that if things headed seriously south, they were prepared to keep only 30% of their staff (at the time that we had the highest number of workers). Many (most?) of the old-timers had been through that cycle multiple times. They mostly find lower-paying work or just remain unemployed during low points, and then come back when work picks up and work lots of overtime.

About operators: It's true that you will have more opportunities and more growth. A rotation schedule is common, and if you are more or less a new grad it's possible that they are putting you in a rotation for (or to identify) "high potentials". You'll be getting a lot of exposure, and that counts for a lot in your career. It's not a negative -- it's a tremendous positive. It will look great on your resume, and you'll make important contacts and have a broader exposure to the business. And although any area will come with layoffs, it will be less volatile than with an EPCM.

About travel, since that seems of great appeal to you: I've done some of this, and I can tell you that it's not truly glamorous and it is much nicer to travel on your own nickel on vacation than it is to travel for work.

It's possible that I've worked for one or both of the companies you are looking at. If you'd like to chat about specifics, feel free to send me a MeFi Mail.
posted by Houstonian at 8:17 AM on June 9, 2012

« Older Smoothing creased foamcoare   |   I want to start strength training but I know very... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.