Is being a mercenary a career dealbreaker?
March 28, 2019 2:42 PM   Subscribe

I'm struggling with the decision to jump ship at my new job or stay and gamble on the off chance I might get promoted.

Previously, I asked for advice on my career/financial situation. I moved to a large metro area to better my career prospects but am only making 10k more than I was 4 years ago. I am currently at 40k and spending much more than before I moved due to the cost of living increase, effectively substantially decreasing my take home pay. I really thought moving here would help bump up my salary. Instead I'm stuck in this salary grade and it's getting progressively precarious. Calculators online are roughly showing that a comparable salary from my previous city would be $20-$25k more than my current salary here.

I am feeling dejected. I still owe the same amount of money on my student loans, if not just a bit more due to interest even with regular payments. I know I can do income based repayment and loan forgiveness, but I hate owing so much money and want to be done with it. I am considering getting a certificate in the field I am in now in the hopes that it will get me to that position that will give me the responsibilities and the pay to get this debt off my back.

Couple of issues are that after I made the move to large metro area, I was unemployed for 6 months. I tried temp agencies with no luck and blew through my savings. I finally got a call back and was passed over twice until I got the job I have now. The recruiter said they liked me enough and if there were any other job openings I was interested in, to go ahead and apply. I was getting desperate and now I feel like that's come back to haunt me. I have only been in the position for two weeks and I already know it's not a good fit. There is no advancement in sight and I don't want to be "paying my dues" at another entry level position. Other problem is I am unable to ask for days off while I am in the probation period so I can't make it to interviews unless I call in sick, which doesn't seem right.

It feels like I'm wasting time when I could be working on this certification and going after the position I really want. There's an opening at another company for that position, but should I let them know I already have a job even if it's new and I don't plan on staying? Do I put it on my resume? I don't want to burn bridges, but I can't wait 6-12 months in the hopes I get promoted when there is no visible mobility in the department I want to be in. I have put some feelers out and it seems like it's a small department without much room for growth, if any. Plus, they spent all this time training me and I'd rather get out sooner than later hoping it would soften the blow. Is that a thing? I think what's best is giving them notice and keep applying to the jobs I want and maybe this certification will get me that and I can finally afford to pay my debt. Am I overthinking this? Thanks, mefi.

tl;dr Only been at my job for two weeks after 6 months of unemployment and I know it's not a good fit. Not making enough for my city's cost of living and to pay back student loan debt. Should I give notice and work on bettering job prospects for higher pay leaving this job off my resume? Or be honest with potential employers and quit when I have an offer?
posted by Zeratul to Work & Money (10 answers total)
I would not quit your current job without another offer letter in hand. In my experience, two weeks is not long enough to know a job is pointless. I’d take a breath and maybe a month off from looking, put some time into the new job, gather your thoughts and goals, and make a more organized plan of attack for your next step.

Is it at all possible to do this certificate program at night or on weekends?
posted by sallybrown at 2:53 PM on March 28, 2019 [13 favorites]

No, you don't put it on your resume if it's less than (my personal rule of thumb) six months. Two weeks isn't even a blip.
posted by Mogur at 2:54 PM on March 28, 2019

tl;dr Only been at my job for two weeks after 6 months of unemployment

you are getting paid. your new job may be pointless, but you are getting paid.

keep applying to other places, but also keep getting paid.
posted by zippy at 2:59 PM on March 28, 2019 [26 favorites]

You have no money and no savings and you... want to quit your brand new job? No?

I'm struggling with the decision to jump ship at my new job or stay and gamble on the off chance I might get promoted.

This is not the decision in hand. The choices are between jumping ship and staying for a year before looking for a different job. Employed people are more employable; people with long unemployment histories (over 1 year) are far less employable.
posted by DarlingBri at 3:12 PM on March 28, 2019 [15 favorites]

Your choice is to either abandon your only source of income when you don’t have any savings, or to stay at that job and use your sick days to interview for better jobs. You say the latter doesn’t seem right, but the former doesn’t seem sensible.
posted by hhc5 at 3:41 PM on March 28, 2019 [2 favorites]

Best answer: 1. Don't put it on your resume if you've been there less than a few months.
2. Stay at your job, deal with interviews when they come up. Taking sick time is fine.

Hang in there. The first job after a long stretch of unemployment can be like this. I remember taking a job I was wayyyy overqualified after 8 months of unemployment and it was really demoralizing. But I kept looking for other opportunities and actually wound up making a lateral move at that same employer that got me into this other career I have now, which is much better-suited to me. Study for your certification at night, apply for other jobs, keep your eyes on the prize.
posted by lunasol at 3:46 PM on March 28, 2019 [3 favorites]

I agree with the comments that say stick with your pay.

I also wonder if there's a way to turn a mediocre situation into a great one.
Who can you make friends with? What can you learn here? What interesting projects could you discover if you invited yourself to some meetings?

There could be a long game here. A friendship now may be a great job a few years from now.

Is there something happening inside of you that's having you feel restless instead of peaceful?
posted by jander03 at 4:09 PM on March 28, 2019 [2 favorites]

No, I think you are UNDERthinking this. I've been there (feeling very early on that I had made a bad choice and wanting to get the hell out of dodge immediately) and my advice is to hang in there and try to find something of value about the job you have right now (even if you don't want to "pay your dues" I assume you want to pay your bills) while preparing yourself for the next step.

You may be right that this is not the place for you, but you may grow to find it tolerable enough for a time; you may even come to feel that you made the right decision initially. But you will end up in the same position as led you to this job if you don't get your feet underneath you a bit with a steady income. Plus it almost always takes longer than one is really comfortable with to find a new job. Can you afford another six months or longer of unemployment? In your industry, would this be a cause for concern when it comes to hiring?

I also want to point out that while I don't know what kind of certification you're going for, I wouldn't bank on that being the sole puzzle piece you need to get to a more satisfying job. It doesn't sound like you are very sure that would be the outcome either.

I think you need to take some time to really formulate a plan for your future, and working towards that.
posted by sm1tten at 5:09 PM on March 28, 2019 [2 favorites]

I don’t think you’re overthinking it but I do think being less dramatic about it can help. It’s pretty straightforward. Take the “dejection” and the “bridge burning” and the “be a mercenary” out of this.

- Stay in this job and collect that pay check
- Work on bettering your job prospects for higher pay
- Keep this job on your resume while you search - knowing you’re already hireable makes you more hireable, and explain you’re looking so soon after starting because you realized quickly it wasn’t a good fit and now you really know what you’re looking for
- Quit when you have an offer
- Take this current job off your resume - it has served its purpose and is useful to you no longer

It’s one foot in front of the other. You’re not going to torpedo your career by leaving an entry level job quickly. (No one honestly cares if you leave a job you’ve been at a few months as an entry level worker. Your colleagues won’t hate you they just won’t give a shit about you. I harbor no ill will to the twenty year olds who realized the job I hired them for was not for them and left, though I don’t particularly remember them either. It’s totally ok? For both of us? It’s really such a flimsy bridge to call it capable of being burned at this level) But you’re not going to build a career by making big sweeping unnecessary impatient upsets either. Take it day by day, grow incrementally, building on what you have with learning how to exist in a work environment and observing what you see does and doesn’t work and what different management styles are like and coworker dynamics go and how projects move from phase to phase, even from a vantage point you find pretty limited right now. I think often of Nora Ephron’s “Everything is copy.” This is all life learning.
posted by sestaaak at 6:09 PM on March 28, 2019 [6 favorites]

Working this job is your day job to pay the bills. Applying for better jobs is your night job. You talk about 40k not being enough, but every month, it is $3kish that you’d otherwise not have. After some months, you can put it on your resume and benefit from how it’s easier to get a job when you’re already employed. Go ahead and use your sick days for the occasional interview; just keep it within reason.
posted by salvia at 6:44 PM on March 29, 2019 [1 favorite]

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