Will jumping ship just lead to drowning?
July 2, 2012 3:51 AM   Subscribe

Is this job offer an opportunity or a distraction?

I've been working for four years for an organisation I'm not particularly excited about but the pay/benefits/location are excellent and, after 3.5 years of really hard struggle, things are going pretty well. I was promoted to team manager 18 months ago - it was pretty hellish for a while but iterally in the last three month things have come together, I've been able to expand my team to take the pressure off, the project we've worked on for two years has just about finished and I've gone from hating my work to actually taking some pride in what I do. I'm respected within the organisation and have a lot of autonomy, but I am a bit burned out through playing the corporate part for so long. I had planned to leave at the end of this year and take a few months off to finish an unrelated study course and work out what I want to do next (I have a year's worth of living expenses lined up).

However, an application sent during earlier, darker days resulted in an interview invitation a couple of weeks ago. This was to a dream organisation and I previously thought I'd never even get a foot in the door so I went to the interview just for the experience. Turns out they liked me and I got a verbal offer. I'm now terribly torn. The new job is IT project management rather than line management, which I think I'd enjoy but I'm not sure.

The organisation is an internationally renowned institute of art and very highly respected as such (something I've missed in my current post, which is in a legal field), but the the salary is a bit lower, with half the pension contribution of my current post and I would have two weeks less of annual leave. I currently do a lot of creative stuff in my spare time and I'm not sure I'd be able to continue with less leave.

I could learn an awful lot in the new post and I'll be working on exciting and prestigious projects, and I'd be around people who care about the arts the way I do. But I'm really not sure I want to give up what I've worked really, really hard for in my current position in the short term, to spend the next few years working from the ground up again in the new post when I had planned a bit of a sabbatical first.

I've done a detailed analysis of the various pros and cons but it really comes down to whether or not I'll regret missing the opportunity. Can anyone lend perspective?
posted by socksister to Work & Money (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Tough one, I don't envy you. I have two thoughts.

First, any way you could get a more in depth look at the new organisation and specifically the day to day job before making the decision? Say, go in for a day of shadowing or talk to someone who currently works there? Because even though the org may be great, the job itself may be a grind, or super stressful, or your colleagues might all be horrible or whatever else, and then you'd definitely regret the decision.

Secondly, could you negotiate better benefits? Seems like you're in a pretty strong position to do that. But maybe you've already tried that.
posted by ClarissaWAM at 4:18 AM on July 2, 2012 [3 favorites]

If you take the new job, are you still planning to take a leave at the end of this year for studying and figuring things out?

If it were me, I'd think this: I work for money. If I'm not miserable in a job, then I might as well stay where the money is best. However, I'm not you, and it sounds like you'd already made the decision to leave them, even without a job. So that means you aren't deciding between two jobs, but between no job and the new job. In that case, take the new job if you plan to be there more than through December. If you are taking leave either way, then stay where you are until the end of the year.
posted by Houstonian at 4:35 AM on July 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

Negotiate for more leave and better benefits or higher salary to compensate for benefits.

There's something to be said for quitting while you're ahead. Keep a good relationship with your old company.
posted by tel3path at 5:27 AM on July 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

"I'll be working on exciting and prestigious projects, and I'd be around people who care about the arts the way I do."

I don't think you can put a dollar figure on this benefit. That being said, I'd take the new gig, especially if you were really leaning on leaving your old company anyway.
posted by st starseed at 5:52 AM on July 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

came here to say what st starseed said.

I can think of little reason you should pass up the opportunity to work for a dream organization in a role where you would be working on prestigious projects you find exciting, not to mention a role where you get to do that AND "learn an awful lot".

This sounds like a no-brainer to me.
posted by namewithoutwords at 6:10 AM on July 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

Let's change how we view the world, shall we?

You don't work for an organization, you work for yourself. What job lets you do what you want to do, money-wise, autonomy-wise, leave-wise etc.

You're lucky that you've got your priorities straight because otherwise, this decision could be difficult.

Will your current job take you back after the sabbatical? Then you've answered your question. You'll stay in your current job.

When your sabbatical is over, will you then be looking for a new job? Then you have to decide if you want to post-pone your sabbatical, and take this new job for the experience.

I'm thinking that after looking into the new job, it's not as cool as you thought it was going to be. You're disappointed.

So, since you're working for yourself, which of these two scenarios fits into your plans better? The current job, with the sabbtical, or the dream organization, with the crappy benefits?

If you do decide to take the new job, you're in a strong position to negotiate. You may not get as much vacation, but will they sponsor professional conferences?

Try to get as much as possible.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:13 AM on July 2, 2012

The organisation is an internationally renowned institute of art and very highly respected as such (something I've missed in my current post, which is in a legal field), but the the salary is a bit lower,

This is true across the board for employment in the arts. The jobs are very attractive to people who enjoy being around the arts and around people with interesting ideas about culture and creativity. That means a certain degree of competition and self-selection, along with smaller budgets due to less focus on profit and more on contribution, and that translates to salaries routinely 20-40% less than in other sectors.

So you really have to decide how important it is to you to work in the arts - you'll take a financial hit, but you may enjoy your work day-to-day much more and feel more fulfilled by it in the long haul. But if you are more interested in your off-time projects, then maybe the compromise you have made right now serves you better.

The two weeks' leave is likely to improve; where I work, for instance, you're at 2 weeks for the first two years, then three, eventually four after five years. Does this place have a scaled policy? It's not that hard to suffer through the qualifying period.

Also, you could consider negotiating your leave before accepting the offer. It's great to be in a good position to negotiate, since you already have a job you're OK with.
posted by Miko at 6:36 AM on July 2, 2012

I'm here to second what ClarissaWAM said: a dream organization is not necessarily a dream job. Find out what the day to day looks like.

FWIW - I quit a really good job that I had built up 20 years of knowledge and respect with good benefits and pay (there were things that made it not so great in the last few years, too) to go work for my dream company, but I could only get in as a contract-to-hire (but don't worry - everyone gets hired!!). I gave up half my leave and all my benefits and all my knowledge/leadership to work as an individual contributor on the lowest level, expecting to get hired and work my way back up. Then the economy happened, no more hiring, and they decided to shut down the system that I was working on. Since then, I've jumped from contract to contract in jobs that I don't really like and am now unemployed waiting for an interview later this week.

Sometimes it's better to keep your dream as a "what if" and not a reality. YMMV.
posted by CathyG at 7:21 AM on July 2, 2012 [2 favorites]

You need to find out more about the day-to-day, and if you can, why the last person left (use Linkedin to find out if you can.)

Having a fun job is pretty huge. If this job is definitely going to be something that makes you happy to get up on work mornings, then make the jump. It's an enormous quality of life thing, really priceless.

If you can't be sure it'll be more fun, but it seems like it probably would, then perhaps you could negotiate a later start date so you can still take a chunk of time off before you start (2 months?)
posted by fingersandtoes at 8:04 AM on July 2, 2012

Can you take your leave period (two weeks or even more than two weeks), before you start the new job? That would effectively up your time off to where you want it to be, at least for the first year.
posted by pynchonesque at 8:56 AM on July 2, 2012

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