Escaping the Mommy Track
January 14, 2013 5:45 PM   Subscribe

Due to a crazy series of events, I think that (on Thursday) I'm going to get an offer that is a huge step forward in my career. Help me not screw this up.

There is a lot of missing background here, but long story short: after laboring away as an assistant/admin for many years, then getting a two year position where I was doing nothing but Really Cool Job but worked for a totally crazy person and was denied any appropriate title or credit, then got fired, and am now working again as an office manager, I find myself in the position of being a finalist for a job with the word "director" in the title. I'm a little stunned -- the job is a big step up in my career and perfect fit for me. But I'm second guessing myself right, left, and center, so I need your help with a bunch of questions:

1) I've had a phone interview, an in person interview with the person who would be my boss, and an in person interview with her boss. Today they spoke with all my references, and emailed me asking to meet with my (prospective) boss, the area admin (who I haven't met yet, and who I would supervise), and a related VP on Thursday. Is it your opinion that they're going to make me an offer on Thursday? If so, why not call or email me the offer - why make me find another excuse to leave my current job and come in? I'm assuming that I should go in expecting this to be another interview - is this assumption correct?

2) Assuming they make me an offer on Thursday afternoon, how do I graciously say "I'd like some time to think this over" without sounding ungrateful?

2a) For complex reasons, I'd like to give my current employer a chance to match this dream offer before I accept it. I don't think they'll be able to make me a competitive offer (taking into account both money and title/responsibilities) but the flip side is that I'm actually doing a big portion of This Type of Work for my current employer, just without the title or the pay (that sounds bad, but it really isn't so bad -- it's more like a situation where they never realized what the benefits of having someone to do The Work would be, so they never had anyone. I've been doing The Work for them in small doses as a way to sort of audition myself for a "I'm someone you never knew you needed but now can't live without" sort of role) and I feel I owe it to them to at least give them a shot at keeping me. I've been at my current job almost exactly a year.

Can you map out for me how I should frame this conversation? (I'm currently thinking an email that starts "I wanted to let you know that I've been offered Big Damn Job, but have not yet accepted their offer." but then I don't know what to say.)

3) (Bonus!) A few years ago, I left a job a lot like the one I'm in now for a lot of the same reasons (more money, skills underutilized, needed more of a professional challenge), and ended up working for an utterly crazy control freak. I lasted two years before she fired me. It was an amazing experience, and I'm glad I did it, but I want to avoid it ever happening again. What kind of questions should I ask to help insure this is a good fit for me? The job has been vacant for a little while (maybe a month?) and I actually have a connection to the person who held it last. (I've also met her a couple of times in passing.) How weird would it be to reach out to her via Linked In and ask for her impressions of the job and the work environment? I do get the impression that she left under amicable circumstances.

Thank you for your help in getting myself un-Mommy Tracked!
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (6 answers total)
1) I would assume that this is the last round of interviews, and there probably won't be an offer on Thursday yet.
2) If they offer you the job, it is absolutely okay to ask for the weekend to get back to them.

I can't be of any help regarding your current job, unfortunately.

Good luck!
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 5:56 PM on January 14, 2013

Don't play both sides. Counter Offer the new position once, after they bump the pay a little, or increase the vacation, accept it, then give your resignation at your current place. If the old company wants you bad enough they'll beg you to stay. If not, move on to better things!
posted by roboton666 at 5:56 PM on January 14, 2013 [2 favorites]

1) No, I would absolutely not assume you're getting an offer on Thursday. I would assume you're having an interview. But yes, it's totally fine to say, "Thank you so much for this opportunity. I'd like to talk it over with my family. Can I get back to you early next week?" No sane employer expects you to feel obligated to accept an unexpected offer on the spot.

2) There are some very, very good reasons not to accept a counteroffer. Your current company already doesn't respect the work you do; they're even less likely to treat you as a valued member of the team if they have reason to believe you're one foot out the door.

3) Ask the new boss how s/he likes to manage people and the new subordinate how s/he likes to be managed. Ask what you can do to be really outstanding at the job rather than just good at it. Those sorts of questions, about what they expect the person in the role to be like, will give you some sense of what they expect from you.

Not weird to reach out. If you have her email address, though (or can get it), use that instead. A lot of people don't check LinkedIn very often, and you're on a short timetable.
posted by decathecting at 6:07 PM on January 14, 2013 [5 favorites]

Definitely contact the person who previously held the job, if you can! Having that sort of insider knowledge of a work environment is invaluable, particularly from a person who no longer has any vested interest in whether you take the job or not.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 6:22 PM on January 14, 2013 [1 favorite]

Don't play the companies against each other. Many times a nice counter-offer is made simply so they can buy time to complete their search for a replacement who's "loyal" - many managers like predictable employees rather than good ones. If you get an offer you like, go. Don't look back.
posted by Slap*Happy at 4:54 AM on January 15, 2013 [1 favorite]

Seconding decathecting - NEVER accept a counter offer, and *ABSOLUTELY* never go fishing for one. It virtually always ends badly for you.

As to time-to-decide, I've gotten up to a week once I've gotten an offer, but that may be pushing it, depending on the circumstances of the prospective new employer.

Good luck!
posted by Citrus at 12:27 PM on January 15, 2013 [1 favorite]

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