One job offer in the hand is worth two in the bush?
June 26, 2013 10:13 AM   Subscribe

Should I take a job I don't really want, or pass it up in the *hope* that my old work hires me back in a month or two?

I have a lot of trouble making decisions, so any help you can offer is much appreciated.

I'm offered a job at a phone company doing customer service. I don't think I would really like the job and it doesn't really relate in any way to my future goals, but at least I would have fulltime work.

The reason I hesistate to accept the offer is that I've heard through the grapevine that the non profit that I worked for earlier this year (where I enjoyed the job) has an opening for the admin job that I performed. They won't be hiring until late July or August, though, and the phone company job would start in the beginning of July.

I have no way of knowing whether the nonprofit will hire me back, although I would think I have a good chance since I've already worked there, and have done the exact job that they would be hiring for. I've sent in my resume and cover letter to them already, and I received the general "We'll call you if anything comes up." But if I pass on this phone company job only to find out later that I don't get hired, I'll feel pretty stupid.

I'm teaching piano about 12 hours a week and my rent is dead cheap, so I'm not going to starve if I don't take the first job offer, and I'm also volunteering in a hospital to determine if I want to be a nurse. I just don't want to pass up on an opportunity that I'll regret in two months' time when I start feeling poor again.
posted by winterportage to Work & Money (19 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Take the phone company job.

Apply for the nonprofit job. If you get it, quit the phone company job.

If you sent in your resume before the nonprofit made it official that they were hiring for this position, you may need to re-submit when the job actually opens up. In my experience "we'll call you if anything comes up" is just boilerplate polite stuff you say when someone sends a resume. I wouldn't take it as any sort of inkling that the job is yours if you want it.
posted by Sara C. at 10:16 AM on June 26, 2013 [12 favorites]

? Take the job you don't care for and try like hell to get the job you want. then quit the sucky one if/when you get rehired at the cool place.
posted by edgeways at 10:17 AM on June 26, 2013 [3 favorites]

Is there a reason you can't take the Phone Company job and then resign if the nonprofit offers you a position? That would be my route.
posted by HuronBob at 10:17 AM on June 26, 2013

Best answer: Think about it from the other side. If the phone company hired you, then one month later their circumstances changed, would they hesitate to can you? Not for one second. Take the job, then resign if a better offer comes along
posted by Jakey at 10:17 AM on June 26, 2013 [14 favorites]

Normally I'd say take the job, and keep looking for work like you don't have a job. You'll either get the non-profit job (yay) or another job you like (yay) and in the meantime you're paid.

If you said you'll be in good shape for six months, I might say otherwise. But two months? Take the job. You can always volunteer two months from now (after banking some cash) if you really hate the phone company job and haven't found anything else.
posted by davejay at 10:18 AM on June 26, 2013

Take the job that exists. Resign if the job you really want opens up.
posted by inturnaround at 10:21 AM on June 26, 2013

Has the admin job been officially posted yet? Because its always possible they'll change their mind or put off hiring another few months. I'd take the phone job for now and keep looking for something you do like.
posted by florencetnoa at 10:22 AM on June 26, 2013

You sound new to the work world.

Companies prefer "at will employment" so either party can sever the work relationship at any time. They've accepted the risk of an employee quitting after one day or one month so they can fire any employee without notice. US employees and workers didn't institute this system.

Customer service phone jobs in particular accept the risk of very high turnover because they typically don't offer high salaries or good benefits.

Don't fall into the trap, which managers of younger, nicer workers sometimes take advantage of, of feeling like you owe staying at a company beyond when it's in your self interest.
posted by airing nerdy laundry at 10:32 AM on June 26, 2013 [4 favorites]

The phone company will not blackball you in your chosen profession for saying, "Hey, this isn't working out" or something of that ilk a month down the line. They probably get a lot of people who take a customer service job and quit in favor of anything else. You will be another blip in your immediate manager's life and then he or she will forget you ever existed after a week; no one else in the company will remember you as of the minute you walk out the door.
posted by Etrigan at 10:33 AM on June 26, 2013

Jobs like customer service with the phone company are meant to be high-turnover positions that people accept because they need to pay the bills, and the expectation is that the company will get rid of those jobs the instant their customer service workload declines or that the workers themselves will leave once they find something else.
posted by deanc at 10:39 AM on June 26, 2013

Best answer: There are a lot of folks suggesting you take the job. There will be others. If I knew you, I might be one of them. There's probably no harm in taking this job with the thought that you might dump it rather soon (airing nerdy laundry is right, I think)--I imagine this happens a lot for the phone company. Too, I imagine non-profits with variable position availability are used to looking at folks with varied backgrounds.

But, if you've got the chops to teach piano 12 hours a week--are you sure you want to give that up? Have you really given it a go? I see you wrestling with careerism in this and your earlier questions.

I've come around to the thought that there are some things that are really only possible when you're young (e.g., olympic gymnast, fighter pilot) and others that you can pick up later in life and find great success. Living as a broke musician trying to catch a break (in music or the arts or the non-profits)? Well, that' easier when you don't have kids and a mortgage. Professional school? Full of second (and third) career students.

That said, *every* job or career has some element of customer service. The phone company gig may not be a dream job, but you'll learn *something*, however small, that you can take to another position.
posted by GPF at 10:45 AM on June 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

One job offer in the hand is worth more like ten in the bush.
posted by jacalata at 11:01 AM on June 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

AskMefi is full of people waiting on the whims of nonprofits for work. Their "in a few months" could easily turn into a year or more.

Also- you said hire you back- did I miss why you weren't still there?

Take the job- maybe ask if they have part time so you can keep your piano lessons and if you don't like the job then you can quit.
posted by haplesschild at 11:03 AM on June 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Not-for-profit that you want to work for might actually end up hiring you, but even if they did, such companies are notoriously slow. Getting the ad posted, accepting resumes, doing interviews, making their decision, etc... I'd be surprised if the person they hire has their butt in a chair before September. Take the phone company job, and you'll probably be there at least 2 months.
Customer service at a phone company is the type of job that probably has several long-time employees but a large amount of short-term turnover. If you work for them for only 2 months, that's unlikely to be the shortest they've ever had someone work for them; they probably won't be particularly annoyed with you.
I could point out that you don't have to care what they think because they're in a different field and you won't need references from them, and by the time they'd be (hypothetically) annoyed by your quitting, you'd be gone - but if you're the kind of person who feels like you should treat people well, I can see why the idea that they might be annoyed would be more of a disincentive than the worry that there was anything they could do about it. So, consider that you will be far from the worst employee they've ever had, and they're probably not expecting any more from you than what your worst-case scenario is able to give them.

In short, take the job you've been offered, and pat yourself on the back for having your next career step already well underway.
posted by aimedwander at 11:06 AM on June 26, 2013

Is there any reason you can't accept the full-time customer service job and quit if you get the job you really want? You said the phone company job doesn't relate to your future goals and it doesn't necessarily sound like you feel you can network up from your position there. So if you piss them off by quitting so soon, would it even matter? If they are a big phone company, I bet they are used to staff turnover for lower-level positions anyway. Take the full-time job and keep trying to get a job you really want.
posted by AppleTurnover at 11:17 AM on June 26, 2013

You've heard a rumour that your old company may be hiring in a couple of months' time, or not, as the case may be?

And you think it might be better odds to submit your resume along with the thousand or so others that will get sent in, and then hope you get an interview a few weeks or months later, and then hope that out of all the ten to twenty people they interview, they might hire you?

If you have enough income to support yourself, well... consider the possibility that you may actually not want any job, including the old one.
posted by tel3path at 11:32 AM on June 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

BTW when I say "thousand or so others", I'm not exaggerating.

My friend applied to a job advertised in a newspaper in 1992, and didn't get an interview, but did get a letter of congratulation for being ranked 40th best out of 1100 applicants. In 1992.

You've already worked there. If you want to apply, apply. But consider all the talk that gets bandied about, that *nobody* gets a job by answering a job ad any more, that 70% of vacancies aren't advertised, and hidden vacancies blah blah blah blah. Now, if this is one of those hidden vacancies and you have been tipped off by someone who could actually hire you, the odds increase dramatically in your favour. But if it was mentioned by someone who has no authority to hire you, and they plan to advertise the vacancy and choose from a pool of competitive applicants, then depending on why you left the job originally, your odds may be better than a stranger's (since they know your work) but not necessarily better than one in a few hundred.

Of course, you should do everything possible to get the job you want. But don't leave yourself without a stream of income for a few months just on the vague hope of a lottery win.
posted by tel3path at 11:38 AM on June 26, 2013 [2 favorites]

You know what. I started out my career in Customer Service at the Phone Company. This is an EXCELLENT job, usually Union and a great place to get good experience.

Even for customer service there is a lengthy process of training, my initial training was 8 weeks long.

The phone company has excellent benefits, including health insurance and being union, there will be pay raises every 6 months until you reach the top of the pay scale.

There are tons of great positions once you get inside the phone company, HR, Marketing, Engineering, and in many cases there is training for these jobs.

The phone company paid for my MBA.

Don't be so short sighted, or so picky. Take this job, you may find that while you don't love it, that you'll love the folks you work with, love the money you make and love the benefits. Additionally, keep your eyes and ears open because you never know what great thing is waiting for you down the road.

*gets on soapbox* I am SO tired of kids who are fresh out of school, thinking that they're to special or awesome to take a regular person's job. This is the definition of an ENTRY-LEVEL position. The stellar person will take this job and use it for the stepping stone that it is to better paying and more interesting jobs within the company. *gets down off of soapbox*

Okay, I'm sure you didn't mean to come off as that person. But you can't live forever teaching piano, and what's so great about working as an admin at a non-profit. For all you know that position won't be funded, or it won't be full time or anything.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 12:41 PM on June 26, 2013 [5 favorites]

the non profit that I worked for earlier this year (where I enjoyed the job) has an opening for the admin job that I performed.
Why do you not have that job now? Were you fired or downsized? Is it realistic to think the non-profit will hire you again after they have let you go? OTOH, if they ran out of funds for your former position, will that happen again?
posted by Cranberry at 1:26 PM on June 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

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