The job that pays vs. the job that stays
December 5, 2013 4:04 PM   Subscribe

Should I quit my lucrative but VERY temporary job to take a job that pays worse, but is permanent, and better in several more ways?

I am working a job that pays well, but it is through a temp agency and expected only last until the beginning of January 2014 (less than a month). After the job ends, there's the possibility that the agency will find me something... or they might not. It took them 2 months to place me in this job.

The current job is grueling, with a 4 hour round trip commute by public transportation. I am in a "career transition" phase, and while I'm not 100% sure what I want to do with the next 30+ years (I am in my early 30s), it is not working in the industry the temp job is in.

The new, permanent, but paying less job (pays less by half), IS in an industry I am interested in. I will be able to get experience + connections. I will take a pay cut and get fewer hours per week, but will still be able to meet expenses. I will just not be able to save for awhile. My future? boss said it was fine if I looked for a second job, as the hours are really flexible. Major bonus is that the job is within walking distance to my apartment. The distance I walk now to catch the train = the distance to this new job door-to-door.

So, what would Metafilter do? Stick it out at $$$ job for 3 more weeks and hope something comes along, or quit it and go for the job that seems more appealing except for the fact that I'd make a lot less money?
posted by tippy to Work & Money (29 answers total)

Now I'm going to read the extended question to see if my answer changes.

It did! Make that hell, yes.

1. You will be shocked how much time you save by not commuting. You can use that time at a second job, doing independent work, networking to build your career, working out, or whatever other things are missing from your life right now.
2. You will save money by not commuting.
3. A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. Temp work is a sickness in the business world right now - companies are hooked like heroin. "Might" find you something? If they want you, they'll make an offer when you give notice. If not, they probably wouldn't have anything to offer when your contract ended, either.
4. The new job is a career trajectory. The old job is not.
posted by Miko at 4:08 PM on December 5, 2013 [14 favorites]

Take the new job.

Best option: Get a start date in January. Finish out the month in the temp job first if the new job will hold.

But take the new job.
posted by SLC Mom at 4:08 PM on December 5, 2013 [5 favorites]

I've worked at a job that literally paid more money than I knew what to do with--as in we'd pay all our bills, buy the stuff we wanted, and go "Jesus what do we do with all this money"--and ran screaming into something that paid less but was in a better area and a much better place to work without a moment's hesitation.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 4:09 PM on December 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

It sounds to me like your quality of life will be greatly improved by taking the permanent job. Especially if you can look for a second job or later transition into a higher paying job through this new industry and connections, this sounds like a winner move to me.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 4:09 PM on December 5, 2013 [2 favorites]

When I clicked on this thread, I assumed "VERY temporary" meant something like a year. With that timeframe, you have an interesting question. With less than a month? There's no way I would consider staying with a temp agency expecting to find a better job. Job searches these days can easily take half a year. The hint should be in the name - "temp agencies" do not provide reliable permanent work. If they did, they would not be temp agencies.
posted by saeculorum at 4:09 PM on December 5, 2013 [4 favorites]

Best option: Get a start date in January. Finish out the month in the temp job first if the new job will hold.

This would be the best option, but if not, oh man OBVIOUSLY quit your temp job! You'll be choosing THREE WEEKS' pay at one job over a permanent job! That would be a bad choice even if the new job WEREN'T better in literally every way except for pay.

Your question is "in three weeks' time, should I choose to have a job or no job?" What kind of a question is that?
posted by showbiz_liz at 4:11 PM on December 5, 2013 [12 favorites]

Just want to chime in that money isn't everything, especially when you don't have the time to enjoy using it.

Besides, as others have mentioned, your current job is only guaranteed to give you another 3 weeks, so you'd be needing to have something lined up anyway. I'm a bit mystified why you're asking the question in light of that.
posted by Aleyn at 4:18 PM on December 5, 2013 [2 favorites]

New job! New job!
posted by heyjude at 4:20 PM on December 5, 2013

Honestly, a four hour commute vs. walking would be enough to convince me, money be damned. Take the permanent job, without a doubt. If you'll have enough money to go on...yeah. How do you even have time to have a life right now?
posted by punchtothehead at 4:20 PM on December 5, 2013

Do it. Time commuting is time that's almost totally wasted, and it's soul-sucking to boot. Building experience in a career you like? What are you waiting for?
posted by fatbird at 4:31 PM on December 5, 2013

Omg yes walking job.
posted by infinitewindow at 4:33 PM on December 5, 2013

New job.

And in case you are feeling angst over quitting your temporary gig before its completion date -- e.g., feeling a sense of responsibility to see it through to the end to be honorable -- nix that thought. It's super common for people to bail on temp jobs mid-stream when they get a permanent offer elsewhere.

You are going to love having that extra four hours (!!!) of commute-free time every work day. You'll be able to use that time to economize (cook for yourself, make your own coffee vs. grab-and-go).
posted by nacho fries at 4:42 PM on December 5, 2013 [6 favorites]

Take the new job.
posted by jeather at 4:44 PM on December 5, 2013

Just another vote here for the new job. It has the potential to get you where you do want to go (and man, that's never guranateed these days), and the commute. Holy cow, the commute.
posted by SpacemanStix at 4:48 PM on December 5, 2013

The new job sounds pretty sweet. Take it, and congrats!
posted by Metroid Baby at 4:49 PM on December 5, 2013

Take it & skip to work every morning! The amount of time and stress you save just by losing the commute will help your overall happiness. And you'll have more free time to pick up extra work (or just focus on making a stellar impression at the new position). Congrats!
posted by mochapickle at 4:52 PM on December 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

For the commute alone, I can't imagine why you WOULDN'T take the new job!
posted by matty at 5:27 PM on December 5, 2013

One of the points of Jonathan Haidt's Happiness Hypothesis is that happiness to a large extent is internally derived, but that there are a few external factors that have been proven to increase happiness. Among them is to decrease commuting (and noise) in your day-to-day life.
posted by AwkwardPause at 5:27 PM on December 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

I too answered "yes" before I went inside, and now that I am inside, I am still all yes.
posted by sm1tten at 5:37 PM on December 5, 2013

What's the start date on the other job?

I mean, there are two more work weeks in 2013. You're most likely looking at leaving days before the job would have been over, anyway.

I see no reason why you should turn down good work for the sake of a few days at a job that was over, anyway.
posted by Sara C. at 5:38 PM on December 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

Three weeks of work with an insane commute vs. a permanent job (that sounds pretty awesome to me)? Are you seriously even considering staying at the temp job?

Dude. This should not even be a question.
posted by ablazingsaddle at 6:03 PM on December 5, 2013 [3 favorites]

Save as much money as you can, then take the new job.
posted by empath at 6:28 PM on December 5, 2013

Did you already try asking them to match your current salary?
posted by slidell at 7:57 PM on December 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

Good grief! If you figure your time is worth anything, than what you save on the commute alone makes the permanent job look like roses! You could even take a second job for 8 hours a week and still have a better life.

DTMFTempJ already!
posted by BlueHorse at 7:57 PM on December 5, 2013

Current job: awful commute, stress, likely to be laid off in weeks.
Proposed job: great commute, perfect work, career stepping stone, stability.

You know what to do.
posted by zippy at 12:34 AM on December 6, 2013 [1 favorite]

Oh yes, new job.

One thing you might want to do is to hit up the place you're working for now for freelance assignements you can do at home. They'll pay a shit-ton, and you can do them when you're not working at your awesome new permanant job.

Besides, the holidays are a great time to start a new job, things are typically slow, so folks have time to devote to fully bringing you on-board, so much better than if they were in crisis mode.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 5:29 AM on December 6, 2013

Thanks everyone. Guess I needed some reassurance; the SO was a bit worried about the financial hit because we really like to travel and save a lot of money to do so. I pointed out that I need to have a job that will allow me to travel, otherwise any money saved is just sitting in the bank.

One thing you might want to do is to hit up the place you're working for now for freelance assignements you can do at home. They'll pay a shit-ton, and you can do them when you're not working at your awesome new permanant job.

This is essentially what I did today! I walked in to temp job, laid my cards on the table, and the manager asked if I wanted to work remotely until the end of my contract. I can do that and start the new job.

I should have done it before I asked here, but your responses certainly gave me enough backbone to go in and do it. ;)
posted by tippy at 3:16 PM on December 6, 2013 [4 favorites]

From personal experience, you will be mind-blown at how much better life is when you're not commuting. And 4 hours a day? Holy shit, that's in effect like working 12 hours a day. Try running the numbers based on that and the current situation will probably seem much less appealing.
posted by Lexica at 7:25 PM on December 6, 2013

Commuting has a lot of hidden costs, including coffees/breakfasts and lunch purchased out, simply because you don't have time to plan and prepare and do those things at home. I don't know if that describes you - maybe you never eat lunch out - but when I had a 2-hr/day commute, I often blew off prepping lunch (too tired, not enough time, rushing and forgot my lunch bag), which cost me maybe $60 a week in going out for lunch and other snacks. I got coffee on the run (maybe $10/12 week?) instead of at home, because of rushing out the door. And then when I got home, my partner (who also had a long commute) and I ate out maybe 3 nights a week because we were too tired to cook, hadn't had time to stock the fridge with a good shopping trip, and just wanted a fast hot meal. So, minimum, $120/week between us getting dinner out.

I don't know if these are your habits. But when you stop giving away 4 hours of your day for nothing (try averaging your salary over that to get a true cost per hour), you can invest time int he things that reduce your cash cost. Make coffee and breakfast every day at home. Keep the larder full so you don't eat out just because you have no better ideas. Plan a menu in advance so you know what you're eating each night instead of going out. For me, these were the big costs of commuting - not the time, not the train fare or gas, but the knock-on effects of having just 2-3 waking hours at home each day, which left no opportunity to plan, prepare, and use our income in smart ways. If you do that, you might find you really don't even notice a big difference in your income level, because you lose less of your take-home to lazy, exhausted, impulse spending.
posted by Miko at 7:33 PM on December 6, 2013 [1 favorite]

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