I love my brand new job. But should I quit already?
October 11, 2017 12:55 PM   Subscribe

I just started a new job that so far is going great. But my circumstances have suddenly and dramatically changed and I am now considering jumping ship.

I've started a brand new job at a prestigious organization -- we'll call it Org 1 -- that as far as I can tell is a great fit. The work is endlessly interesting, my boss appears to be both competent and reasonable, money's great, and there will be opportunities for me to take on more responsibility in the future.

The only downside? I'm a contractor. My benefits are bare-minimum, and job security is nil due to a long-term hiring freeze on staff positions (which is partly why I was hired as a contractor in the first place) and senior management's on-the-record desire to reduce the workforce. Even though my office is considered essential (I have contractor colleagues who have been here for years) and its budget seems to have increased this FY, I still can't help but wonder how much time I actually have left.

Now this is where things get interesting. Totally out of the blue, I was floored to learn yesterday that another high-profile organization -- let's say Org 2 -- is now contacting my references for an opportunity I interviewed for, but had given up on, after weeks and weeks of radio silence. My sources within Org 2 tell me that this is a sign that an offer is imminent. The opportunity is a full staff position, doing the same work as I am now, with exceptional benefits and at least 20k more annually to boot. On paper, the job is objectively better in terms of creature comforts and job security, but the work will be slightly less interesting (relative to the issues I'm working on now, at least) and if all things were equal -- say, a staff position at Org 1 vs. staff position at Org 2 -- I would probably stay put at Org 1, even though I'd be making marginally less money.

But all things are currently not equal, so it's perhaps a moot point. This is my question: in the event I receive an offer, do I stay or do I go? An offer from Org 2 may never come, but I want to be fully prepared in case one does (and, say, they give me only days to decide).

posted by lecorbeau to Work & Money (22 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
From across the Internet, taking a better-paid fulltime position over a contractor role seems a pretty good deal, and I don't even think you would burn bridges. If you get an offer, can you tell your boss at Org 1 and see if they can make a full-time role appear?
posted by katrielalex at 1:03 PM on October 11 [57 favorites]

Job security, higher salary, and tens of thousands of dollars in benefits (presumably paid time off and health care and...?) in exchange for "slightly less interesting"? This is a no brainer. Unless there is some giant red flag you should take the other job.

Once you have an offer in hand, you could also approach your current employer and tell them you want to stay but can't turn down full time employment to continue as a contractor. Maybe they would make an exception to the hiring freeze to keep on someone they already know and consider valuable.
posted by something something at 1:03 PM on October 11 [30 favorites]


Stability matters. Benefits matter a LOT (I'm assuming here you're in the US).
posted by uberchet at 1:04 PM on October 11 [4 favorites]

I'd move in a heartbeat. A full time position with better benefits and work that is still interesting, but not as interesting as it could be, beats what you have now.
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 1:04 PM on October 11 [1 favorite]

This side of the scale: Increased job security, benefits omg, and a 20K push to your salary trajectory?

Other side of the scale: "slightly" more interesting work in an identical role?

Jump and don't look back. Org 1 can decide to hire you back full time if they really want you...with a comp package that exceeds Org 2's. And, if you resign from Org 1, don't take a counteroffer even if they offer a FT role.
posted by JoeZydeco at 1:05 PM on October 11 [5 favorites]

Loyalty is a two-way street. If Org 1 wants to take advantage of your contractor status, you should be able to as well. Specifically, if they retain the option of dumping you at any point, you can likewise choose to dump them whenever a better offer comes along. And hey, their workforce got smaller, just like they wanted!

You can still decide that slightly more interesting work > way higher salary / benefits / job security, but there's certainly no ethical reason you can't make the opposite decision and jump ship to Org 2.
posted by fifthpocket at 1:06 PM on October 11 [26 favorites]

To Org 1: Boss, I've received an offer of a full time job at another Organization. I interviewed a while back, but hadn't heard from them. I really, really enjoy it here and I like working with you a lot, but I really can't turn down permanent status and full benefits. If they ask you about staying on for permanent status, disclose the pay and don't settle for less. Be cheerful and polite and value your work.

Taking more pay to sell your soul doing work you hate - No. Lots more money for essentially the same job - Go.

And for every person in a hiring position, this is why you stay in touch with applicants. I've been in this situation, and it's unnecessary.
posted by theora55 at 1:21 PM on October 11 [21 favorites]

When you get an offer from Org 2, inform Org 1 that you like your job's mission and work environment and your colleagues, but that you have an offer for a permanent position elsewhere and you prefer a permanent position for the sake of your personal life, health, and/or career trajectory.

If Org 1 is not willing or able to match that offer with a permanent position and corresponding pay and benefits, leave and do not feel bad about it. Remember that while Org 1 has the right to terminate your contract for any reason, so do you.
posted by at by at 1:21 PM on October 11 [4 favorites]

Your deal breakers are benefits and security because those are your listed downsides to Org 1 - that means you already know what you're doing if Org 2 shoots you a green flag. If a company offers you your dealbreakers and then the only thing you can say about it is that it isn't as interesting... well, there are worse places to be in the world. You can make the uninteresting interesting but you can't manifest good benefits and security out of thin air.
posted by missh at 1:25 PM on October 11 [4 favorites]


Like, don't stay at org 1 based on a handshake, only for a signed employment contract.
posted by jbenben at 1:32 PM on October 11 [28 favorites]

Org 1 offers interesting work now, but may offer no work at any time, and that sounds a lot worse than dull work, especially if you can leverage your position with Org 2 into something with future Org 3 that also includes more interesting work.

Also, is the Org 2 position more dull, or is all of Org 2 dull? Could you move into a more interesting project or team?
posted by filthy light thief at 2:01 PM on October 11 [2 favorites]

If I were in your position I'd take take up Org 2's offer, for all the reasons everyone above has stated. However, I'd be very, very wary of any sort of counter offer from Org 1. The fantastic Ask A Manager blog has several posts about counter offers and the potential pros/cons (and it's mostly cons).
posted by noneuclidean at 2:02 PM on October 11 [4 favorites]

Do it!! I don't think you'll burn any bridges -- a company that's unwilling to offer you a full-time job w/ some ongoing stability can't expect to keep people long term, and I'm sure they know that.
posted by rainbowbrite at 2:04 PM on October 11 [4 favorites]

Go. Org 1 hired you on as a contractor rather than full time, and the way you phrase things they are aware that they're coming out ahead in this deal. They might be apologetic and in a hiring freeze and their hands are tied - but they know this is not the ideal position for you. They can't possibly be offended by your decision to take a more stable job offering you things that they can't match.
posted by aimedwander at 2:22 PM on October 11

Yup go. Stability for stability's sake isn't worth much.
posted by craven_morhead at 2:33 PM on October 11

If you really, really like Or 1, once you have the formal offer from Org 2, you can offer Org 1 the opportunity to give you a permanent role with matching salary and benefits.

If they can't or won't, then go. Org 2 seems like a great deal with a future in it, and you'll be able to advocate for more interesting work or more responsibility when you're there.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 4:21 PM on October 11


I literally just did this - left a contract job for an Org 2 job that suddenly fell in my lap (very similar circumstances!)

It was an easier decision for me because I hated my role at Org 1 (great org ... just something wasn’t right for me).

I am BLISSFULLY HAPPY now in Org 2. Go.
posted by kellygrape at 5:36 PM on October 11

Go. You won't burn any bridges with Org1 because there's no bridge in the first place. They've hired you as a contractor specifically so they can kick you out or you can leave at any given point in time, so I'd be quite happy to take advantage of that and go to Org B with a full time job and benefits. Isn't that what everyone wants?
posted by Jubey at 7:33 PM on October 11 [2 favorites]

Go. I was working at Org 1 for three years. Then one Friday after work, I pulled into my driveway and my phone rang. I was informed that the Union had demanded that the Org replace me with a union employee who had been injured and couldn't do his normal job anymore.

So just like that, I was unemployed. And when I went back to clean out my office, they wouldn't let me through the gate. They had someone bring me my stuff, and that person neglected to bring me two expensive reference books I had brought in. Multiple emails requesting the return of my books were met with silence.
posted by MexicanYenta at 12:45 AM on October 12

Go. I was in a similar situation a couple years ago, and left Org 1 somewhat reluctantly. A week later, they let 75% of their contractors go (amounting to about 200 people). I never looked back.
posted by writermcwriterson at 12:50 PM on October 12 [1 favorite]

As everyone says, if Org 2 makes you an offer, take it & don’t look back. Also, while it would be nice if Org 1 tried to convert you into a full-time employee when they hear about your intention to leave, I would be wary of that. Counter offers feel great but can work against you in subtle &/or unpredictable ways down the road. Good luck!
posted by katemcd at 2:50 PM on October 12

Thank you everyone for the responses! I still haven't heard anything, but I'm now much better prepared thanks to you all.

Reading your thoughtful responses would lead one to believe this is a black and white issue. I guess I should have added to my original post that not only would I have preferred to stay in my current position if a staff role were available to me, but Org 1 is also much more in line with my future career goals than Org 2. To be sure, a job at Org 2 wouldn't preclude what I hope to achieve later on, but the road ahead would likely be less linear.

Regardless, I'm coming around to the idea that if Org 2 offers me a job, I'd be foolish not to take it. I agree with you all that I need to look after myself, because obviously Org 1 won't do the same.

Let's see what happens!
posted by lecorbeau at 5:33 AM on October 14

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