Help me evaluate my job choices?
February 26, 2018 1:06 PM   Subscribe

Unexpectedly, my first two job interviews post layoff have resulted in two job offers (yay!, sort of) and I'm struggling to figure out what to do. I feel like I have no clue how to properly evaluate anything and it's driving my anxiety through the roof. Give me your thoughts on working contract for hire vs a regular permanent gig?

I haven't had to seriously job search, well, ever really (I worked for the same retail company for fifteen years, most of my adult life). And the fact that it's not the white collar/corporate type work makes it harder to get advice from the web.

Problem is, one pays significantly more (as in $8/hr more), but it's contract to hire, with no guarantee of a permanent position after June 30th. The hiring agency said they think it's a pretty good possibility but....yeah. I've never worked on a temp contract like this. It's working with a large school district tech department, sending out warranty repairs as they transition vendors. The environment and team seems great, slightly more responsibility than I had previously, a little bit of a stretch. Location is less than great unfortunately and requires a longer commute (45-55 min in good traffic vs about 35 min), mostly during rush hour (yuck).

The other is entry level warehouse (which is similar to the work I had been doing), pays *slightly* less than I had been making at my old job, (and very much less than the contract gig). But it is with a great company that's consistently growing and very community oriented. I'd be very excited to work for them and would have jumped at the chance - if this other job hadn't come up. Possibility of moving to a different team with better pay as opportunities come up, but no idea when that would be. Offers benefits and commuting incentives. And it's a permanent position (as much as anything is, I suppose).

(I'm also considering asking the warehouse if they'd consider a part time position, thinking that I'd be in a better spot to maybe get back to full time and rake in a little extra cash buffer if the other job disappears, though I'm pretty sure that's a no go due to their training schedule.)

TLDR - How bad of an idea is it to pass up a low(er) paying, but stable, entry level job with a good company in favor of a better paying role with more responsibility, but might very well vanish in 4 months?
posted by nothing as something as one to Work & Money (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
If the commute is 45-55 min in good traffic, what is it during rush hour? More like 90 min? And is that one way or round trip. Personally, I hit a limit around 30 minutes for one-way commute - more than that I would be really unhappy giving up so much of my life to driving every day. Also you mention that the second job offers benefits - does the first one? how do they compare?

Take a minute and figure out what much each job pays per hour - including commute time and benefits.
posted by metahawk at 1:18 PM on February 26, 2018

I’d make this assessment by calculating how much I think the extra commute will cost (my time, cost of gas, opportunity cost etc), and how much the extra benefits of the lower paying job would be worth and seeing if it’s really such a stark difference in income.

I would tend towards the lower paying, more convenient, more stable job, but that’s because I’m at a point in my life where work-life balance is more of a priority to me than increasing my income long term.
posted by bimbam at 1:19 PM on February 26, 2018 [1 favorite]

Just tell them about your other offer and see if they can meet you in the middle on hourly pay? If they want you, I think that seems fair. YMMV.
posted by jbenben at 1:20 PM on February 26, 2018

Wanted to add that commute times, car wear & tear + repairs ALL figure into this. I would still try for the salary bump, but that's me.
posted by jbenben at 1:21 PM on February 26, 2018

Some thoughts:

- Is insurance a dealbreaker for you? If you have any kind of condition that needs coverage, you're probably better off with the stable job.

- You found these 2 opportunities pretty quickly. Is that likely to repeat in June, if you were to take the higher paying job for now but it doesn't extend? The warehouse position (or something similar) may still be there then if necessary.

I'm happy that you've found 2 options that might work for you, and quickly - that's something to be excited about. However, neither sounds so absolutely fabulous that you must jump on it immediately. Depending on your answers to the above, you may want to consider taking the contracting gig and continuing to look for something even better. Good luck!
posted by widdershins at 1:22 PM on February 26, 2018

That commute would make me miserable, personally. I know people who commuted an hour a day and used it to listen to books (if they were driving) or do work (if they rode a train) but for me, waking up extra early for that kind of commute wouldn't fly. Maybe it isn't a deal-breaker for you.

But there's something to be said for steady work. I've taken contract jobs before and then at the end, it's sort of like "What now?" You have to go through the annoying, uncertain job search process again. There's something to be said for stability and financial security. If you are young, it may not be an issue – when I was younger I was ok with rolling with the punches and it helped me gain experience. But as I've gotten older, I've appreciated being able to plan on the future and not think, "Well, let's see after June when this contract ends."

I think first thing you need to do is look at your budget. Everyone likes more money, but make sure you can reasonably live on the lower paying job. Second, have you tried to negotiate at all? Always ask for more money. Then, finally, I'd resist the urge to simply look at the dollar amount and go with your gut.
posted by AppleTurnover at 1:37 PM on February 26, 2018

Contract job with a school district, with no guarantee of employment past early June? That sounds like a seasonal position that'll be laid off over the summer. And the fact that the hiring agency "thinks" it might be a "good possibility" that you'll stay on means absolutely nothing. Only take that job if you want to work from now until June.
posted by BlahLaLa at 1:46 PM on February 26, 2018 [7 favorites]

Remember that getting a job doesn't mean you have to give up your job search. Being in employment doesn't make you less employable for the vast majority of steady jobs, and is a definite plus for plenty of employers. My personal inclination would be to take the steady job (mainly because it's for someone you really want to work for) but keep looking around to see if there's something better. Maybe commit yourself to an application a week/two weeks/month or whatever you feel you can handle? Of course, you could apply exactly the same principle to the less secure, better paying, job.

The difference between the two jobs, in what you'll earn in 4 months (presuming a 40 hour week) is about $5,500. That's a fairly sizeable amount of money, but how much it's worth to you is something you'll have to determine.

Also, how good are you at saving? I think you have to assume, going in, that the contract length is how long you'll be employed for. If you reckon you can save the extra 5 grand or so, then you're giving yourself a good buffer against the end of the contract, and will have given yourself a real financial boost if you are lucky enough to get a permanent job out if it. If you're going to spend it on takeout because you're tired out and miserable from commuting or worrying, then it's probably not worth as much to you.

As a final thought (and as someone with generalised anxiety disorder, I know how incredibly hard this is, so don't feel bad for struggling; it sometimes seems like half the people on this site would have exactly the same difficulty as you) try to remember that you'd be really happy to be offered either of these jobs, if you weren't being made to choose between. You're clearly very employable! Whichever job you take isn't going to be the last job, or the best job, of your career. Whichever one you choose, things will work out fine in the end.
posted by howfar at 2:08 PM on February 26, 2018 [2 favorites]

I have done a number of long-term temp contract jobs through companies like this. It can be a really great opportunity, but be sure to calculate ALL the benefits you're giving up by taking this contract. Obviously there's health insurance, but there's other stuff too, depending on the company you're contracted through. If you get sick, you may not get paid for that time. When the school district is closed on Memorial Day, you may not get paid for that time. Do you have a vacation planned for before June 30th (or after, if they end up just extending your contract)? More time you may not get paid for.

Additionally, there is some level of still being an outsider when you're a contracted worker on a team of full time employees. Integration can be a little trickier.

It may still be the right choice to take the contract. The pay is A LOT higher and often there's some level of flexibility and independence when you're contracted out. Just make sure to consider the whole picture.
posted by coreywilliam at 3:02 PM on February 26, 2018

Sorry for thread sitting - both offer health benefits, and I would assume the school district would if they hired me directly. (I'm actually covered through my severance period by my old employer, which would cover any gaps)

Commute - I'd move closer if they hired me permanently, probably cut that in half. I could never bike commute unfortunately, (I was in the process of moving closer to work for just that reason before I got laid off) as the job requires occasionally driving between schools. The warehouse I'd still have to move to biking distance, but it's in an area I'd prefer to live in vs the school's neighborhood.

Unfortunately, the pay for the contract gig is just so far above what most other places are offering, it's hard to see past that. But I also wouldn't have applied if I knew it was temp. This has already been stressful enough for me that I really don't relish the thought of having to do it all over again in 4 months.

Thank you all for your thoughts so far. You've given me some things to think over. It's hard to keep perspective when the anxiety is making this out to be the end all be all of my life and telling me if I choose wrong I'll regret it forever.
posted by nothing as something as one at 3:05 PM on February 26, 2018

It' hard to keep perspective when the anxiety is making this out to be the end all be all of my life and telling me if I choose wrong I'll regret it forever.
Yeah - I know that voice. Your logical mind knows this isn't such a big deal - if you don't like where you land, you can always keep looking. Still, it is hard to ignore that alarm bell going "MUST MAKE PERFECTLY RIGHT DECISION" - good for you for recognizing what is happening.
posted by metahawk at 3:11 PM on February 26, 2018

I would make sure that the contract position is still a W2 and not 1099, otherwise you have to lose 1/3 to taxes and the pay difference wouldn't matter as much.
posted by monologish at 5:11 PM on February 26, 2018 [3 favorites]

Yeah. Strongly seconding to make sure the temp job is W2 instead of 1099.

Also, while there are no guarantees, my experience with school districts around here is that they rarely have their shit together to hire people long term mid school year. So, it might be interesting to look at the contract job more carefully; is it the type of thing they’re going to need someone long term (and the 4 month thing is just so they can list the job and get it on the school year cycle) or does it reflect some more transient need?

There are no guarantees, of course, but school systems not being able to think beyond the current school year is A Thing.
posted by Betelgeuse at 7:17 PM on February 26, 2018 [1 favorite]

Thanks everyone. I did turn down the contract job, deciding I'd rather go with the company that I could see myself sticking with long term. I did for the first time ever ask for more money, and they gave me a bit of bump so yay.
posted by nothing as something as one at 9:05 AM on February 28, 2018

« Older An I eligible for an eBay refund?   |   One-act play advice and tips? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.