Please be my career counselor for a moment
March 15, 2013 5:27 PM   Subscribe

After five months of not holding down a steady job, the offers are starting to come in. I need help choosing from three of them -- none of them are exactly what I want, but I see positives in every job.

I come from a marketing background in a developing country where the economy is booming. I've been looking for another job in the capital city where I want to build relationships and basically have a life outside of work, since in my last three-plus years of working I have not had one outside of my long-distance relationship, which just ended. I want to make new friends and have time for new experiences, and I want to be open to the possibility of finding love again.

I came from a senior management role in a company handling multiple business units for marketing, but the nature of the company is such that it's still a startup after twenty years and it is a family-owned company so while I *have* been doing a lot, it's not a recognized brand, or, the business unit it's most popular for (very niche retail) is not really highly regarded in the grand scheme of things.

Here are my options:
1. Start over in real estate services as an analyst for a fortune 500 multinational, to be on the fast track as an assistant manager / junior agent in six months and then hopefully manager, eventually. I don't mind starting from the bottom. What I do mind is starting from the bottom in a new industry and in a different field (sales), which I may not be good at. I see this as a plus because I want to be able to start my own business eventually, and I want this sales training to help me overcome inertia. The team I'll be joining seems to have a good working collaborative environment, the fact that it's a multinational makes me want to be part of the company, and yes, the long-term money and commissions in a booming real estate industry is tempting me. My tentative boss seems pleasant and rational.
I'm also worried about how, if ever I decide to leave and go back to marketing, this will look on my resume. I don't want to seem haphazard with my choices. And again, I might end up being terrible at this job, and it might be difficult for me to move on and find a marketing manager position from this. For the longest time, this was my only option as they seemed very positive about my application but for various purposes (busy) held off on giving the offer for three months. They gave me my preemployment requirements and I won't be able to get an actual offer on the table until I give my medical results. I also don't know how to turn them down graciously (in a highly relational culture) after getting this far with multiple follow ups from my end.

2. Go into retail marketing management for a company that's as part of culture as much as McDonald's is in other countries (it's a mall chain and I'll be working in one branch). Here the responsibilities are pretty cut-and-dried, I just follow orders from the top as I handle one branch. I want to work here because I get to learn processes for once after coming from an anything-goes-so-long-as-approved-by-the-boss place, and I feel that I'll have better options after working for such a prominent company. However, I will not have a social life here due to the nature of retail (long hours, events at night, holidays working).
My tentative boss has explained the reality that for the most part, people who enter the company without an SO generally don't ever get married, and there are many broken marriages caused by the workload. I feel like I *need* to have a life outside of work! I come into a new city without any form of social support, I moved here to build a network as well. I want to be able to go to church and volunteer and take lessons. I don't really plan on staying forever, but I'm not getting any younger and if I end up here, I might end up not meeting anyone in an environment that's filled with mostly females.
After having all this difficulty finding a new job though, I feel like I need the brand name of this company just to boost my resume. I also don't know how long I'll be staying, or how long I can stay working like a zombie without ever seeing light of day (I have no qualms with working that much, actually, I've done it in my last company... but at that time I had what I thought was a supportive boyfriend). [One company that I interviewed for (I really wanted to work here!) was concerned that I didn't stay long enough in work to seem like a reliable employee because 1) I'm a millenial, 2) they make major investments in their employees with regard to international travel.] They want me to show up next week and they told me my papers are ready (is this to sign an offer?), and I'm a little gun-shy about asking for time to think about this. I feel pressured to take the offer with the way it's been presented to me (come next week, your papers are ready!), and I don't know how to ask for more time -- this is a company that's known for ruthlessness in business. I'm just one of many applicants. (BTW) I don't expect to stay here long-term at all, I don't even expect to get promoted because I hear politics gets really bad, though my tentative boss seems pleasant enough.

3. No concrete offer yet from this new educational institution where I will be contributing to marketing planning and executing (I will have three staff) as Marketing Manager. I will need to learn Korean here (I see this as a good thing, part of the job). I consider this a third offer already, because the lady who interviewed me told me that they'll call me for requirements (I'm assuming preemployment) or I might go through a final interview with a c-suite officer (perhaps as a final formality).
This will offer the most pay (which might not even be bigger than my previous salary), and while I work six days a week, I feel like the environment is more relaxed and the nature of the industry doesn't seem to eat up the rest of my life . But, there's no formal offer yet, and while I want to follow up, based on my hard-won experience pressuring companies to expedite applications with offers from other companies never really worked to my advantage. While the working environment seems professional enough, I'm worried that just like my old company I'll be working like a dog and not really getting anywhere because of poor management and because educational institutions don't tend to grow horizontally.

What do I want out of my career, long-term? I want to travel internationally for work and from my experience interviewing, IT companies seem to offer this best (I need experience in digital marketing though, which I don't have). So do tourism boards, but those jobs are a white elephant. I also do freelance marketing so I want to continue that while working. After feeling unstable for the longest time in my last job, I want to not have to put all my eggs in one basket (one job).

This was a long one so I really appreciate any feedback I can get from the more-experienced careerists.

posted by anonymous to Work & Money (1 answer total)
First off, it sounds like you have only one actual offer at this moment. So whatever you decide, don't turn down #2 until you have a firm offer from one of the others. And #3 actually sounds rather more tentative than you may think -- it's not been my experience that C-level types interview as a formality; if they don't think you're a good fit, you won't get an offer.

Assuming you get a real offer from them, I'd go with #1. First, because it offers the best opportunity for you to have the social life you lack (as they say, no one ever thought on their deathbed "I wish I'd gone to work more"). Second, because if you want to own a business, you'll need to be able to sell. If it doesn't work out, I wouldn't think (though I don't work in marketing myself) that sales experience would be a negative in getting another marketing job, and it could easily be considered a positive.
posted by bac at 9:47 PM on March 15, 2013

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