At a job 2.5 years: should I stay or should I go?
September 4, 2013 6:21 AM   Subscribe

What questions did you think on when considering moving on from a job that you don’t hate but could use a fresh start? Special snowflake details inside.

I am at a point in my career where I think I could find another, pretty good job with better pay. I am 5+ years out of grad school, have some qualms with my current job, and carry some resentment. I have had two interviews already for jobs that are not permanent (pretty awesome sounding 2-3 year positions both on the other side of the country – I am now living in San Francisco), and currently my job is “permanent” at a non-profit but I lack faith in my boss to fundraise for the department I am in because she very recently changed careers, and I know that the grant writer who works for my org is likely leaving soon. I also don’t have faith in the organization’s commitment to my department (e.g. last year there was talk about shutting down the department because revenue was slipping and a grant we applied for didn’t come through). The org I work at now feels unstable. Year-to-year grant funds determine programmatic decisions, and I feel like my job can change on a dime.

I carry resentment because 1) I am not paid to the point I should be compared with people I know in the field with similar experience and live in a very expensive area, and 2) our benefits were just cut and I have pretty challenging anxiety and I have found therapy helps me a great deal. I can’t do that anymore except for discount services from those pre-licensure, which doesn’t seem like it can last long (after they get licensed, I will no longer be able to afford, and have to start all over with someone new!). 3) I was asked to do a lot outside of my job description when I first started and can’t shake the anxiety of that coming back again, and feel ultrasensitive when asked to do anything outside of my job now. I am more assertive now that I was back then but it’s hard when you work for a non-profit doing what you love!

On the other hand, I feel strongly about the mission of the organization and like I said, love and am interested in what I do (as long as it lasts, right now!). My boss supports professional development opportunities and I was promoted earlier this year.

Personal life: I don’t know how ready I am to leave where I am and find a new support system, but I also think a fresh start could be good for me (recent break-up, close friends from a few years ago are scattered all over). I also love the bay area.

tl;dr: I’m middling-feeling about my job (love parts, hate parts) and am uncertain about what I should decide and what questions to ask in order to get to a decision around searching for and taking a new job – I go back and forth depending on what kind of day I’ve had. Any questions I should consider as I think about pursuing jobs on the other side of the country? Have others been in similar situations? Is it worth it to leave a job where I am pretty visible in my field, have a good bit of freedom, generally like the people I work with? Any books or articles out there that would help a person think around a decision like this?

Thank you!
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (6 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
The cut in benefits is what would push me out the door. Just one medical emergency can ruin your financial life for a very long time. I wouldn't feel comfortable without a job with benefits or living in a state (like MA) where getting state-sponsored benefits doesn't ruin you financially, either.
posted by xingcat at 6:30 AM on September 4, 2013

If you get a job offer from either of the jobs you interviewed for you should take it. You don't like your job, it doesn't pay well, and it has crap benefits. You seriously have no reason to stay. Sure, you care about the mission of the organization, but maybe that mission would be better served by having an employee that didn't carry resentment and that enjoyed their job.
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 6:32 AM on September 4, 2013

If you're asking the question, get the fuck out.

(Twice, I was asking the question; twice, I did not follow the above advice. Twice, I got shitcanned a little latter; twice, that led to years of un- or under-employment and a significant decrease in my career trajectory.)
posted by notsnot at 6:46 AM on September 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

I'm a little surprised that you can't find comparable work in SF. A lot of industries are very well-represented in the Bay Area (although the nonprofit scene may indeed be better in NYC or DC), and I'm told that the compensation does tend to make up for the area's exorbitant cost of living.

I've been in your situation, and totally understand why you're having mixed emotions and apprehension about this. However, as far as I see it, your job currently has some very considerable negatives that aren't going to get better anytime soon. There's a risk involved, but I think that you need to take a leap of faith, and try something new.

You might want to resist the temptation to pull up your roots entirely, but that might not necessarily be a terrible thing either, especially if your social circle has scattered.

If you need to keep a tally of "good days" vs "bad days" to determine if you should keep the job, it's pretty darn likely that the bad days are outnumbering the good ones.
posted by schmod at 6:47 AM on September 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

When a nonprofit needs large infusions of money (grants) in order to perform basic functions and keep the lights on, and cuts benefits as a result of lack of income, it is in serious financial trouble. No matter how good their work is, the writing is on the wall, and no "angel" grant or investor is going to save y'all from the years of poor financial decisions that lead to this point. You can MeMail me if you'd like me to look at your organization's 990 to assess (or if you need help writing your resume for a broader local search), but from your description, I don't think you need me to tell you what you already know. Don't expect to have a job there for long. Development assistants are the first to go.
posted by juniperesque at 7:27 AM on September 4, 2013

I am at a point in my career where I think I could find another, pretty good job with better pay... I am not paid to the point I should be compared with people I know in the field with similar experience... our benefits were just cut...

It's time to go.
posted by DarlingBri at 7:41 AM on September 4, 2013

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