don't like my new job, coronavirus edition
March 31, 2020 7:42 AM   Subscribe

I just started a new job, and I don't feel like it's a great fit. No big deal, happens all the time, just find something else, except... the world has shut down. Kind of long inside, as I'm writing to work through my thoughts.

Let's start from the beginning, I guess. I moved to New Hampshire three years ago, and got a client-facing job in the software industry at Company A pretty soon thereafter. Company A was a pretty dysfunctional place in a lot of ways, and I was not happy there for the most part. I know of at least four people who left the company in the past year without another position in hand (including one who was on a work visa, meaning he most likely had to leave the country). At the same time, I made a lot of friends there, and, since I was in a new city with no other social life, that was pretty important to me.

I realized pretty quickly that there wasn't a long term future at Company A, but the last straw was in August when I was answering work emails from the delivery room before and after the birth of my son. I started looking around, but the heavy workload limited what I could do. In October, I approached my boss about the unsustainably heavy workload I had (twelve deadlines in a four-week period, when the average person in my department only had eight deadlines total). I was told to just keep plugging away, that "they'd see what happens". Not surprisingly, what happened was that the client experience suffered, and I got extremely burnt out.

Shortly after that conversation in the fall, a recruiter messaged me on LinkedIn about a similar position at Company B. I interviewed with four different people in person, and two by phone, and got an offer. The salary was OK, but it would require 80% travel, which is too much when I have an infant (and a three-year-old daughter as well) at home. So I turned it down.

Fast forward to February, right in the middle of all those deadlines at Company A. The recruiter called back and mentioned that Company B is hiring again for a different position that would be a step up on the proverbial ladder. She also mentioned that it was kind of urgent, and that they didn't have any other candidates.

Since I'd already interviewed with the company, I didn't do much interviewing this time. I spoke with the VP and the person I'd be replacing, both by phone, but didn't talk to my direct supervisor or anyone on the team I'd be working on. That was enough to get an offer, though.

The offer was for $10k more than my job at Company A, and with the more prestigious title. I accepted the position even though I had reservations, thinking that, if nothing else, I could use it as a stepping stone to another position down the road while making more money and getting out of Company A. I started at the beginning of March, and then... bam. The world shut down.

The panic affected me early. Since it's a software company, most of the company is able to work from home, and starting my second week, nearly everyone in the company did. The company closed the office my third week, and we've been closed ever since. As a result, I've had almost no face-to-face interaction with any of my co-workers. I'm pretty experienced at Zoom and Slack, so I'm doing OK with working from home, but it's illuminated some other issues at Company B.

For one thing, Company B doesn't seem to care much about training. There isn't much formal training at all; I'm expected to just sit on conference calls with clients and learn by osmosis. For another, it doesn't seem like there's much personal interaction, even when we were in the office. Finally, about 60% of the company's revenue comes from one client, and that client is a pain. They're a huge corporation that has a dozen people on each call, most of whom aren't technical and probably shouldn't be there. They send emails by the hundreds, and schedule hours of calls every day, sometimes with as little as ten minutes' notice (or worse - I once got an invitation to an 8am call at 4am, which is notable because I'm generally not at my computer until 8:30). So... it's not a great environment.

At the same time, I'm kind of freaking out about the pandemic. Our daycare is operating on a day-to-day basis at this point, meaning I have to spend a lot of mental energy just wondering what I'm going to do with the kids. My wife is a therapist, which is classified as essential, meaning she still gets to work, but she's paid per client she sees. As a result, her income is fluctuating wildly as clients cancel in-person sessions and (maybe) re-schedule teletherapy sessions. Various friends have lost jobs, some of my friends are worried they're going to have to close their businesses, etc. You know how it is. It's a psychological drain, and it's bad for productivity even for people who know what they're doing.

Meanwhile, some of my friends at Company A have a private Slack, and so I've been keeping in pretty close contact with them. Especially since there's no other interpersonal interaction right now, it has made me pretty nostalgic for life at Company A - I know I'm only seeing the good, but that's filling a big void for me at the moment.

I've still been applying for jobs, but nothing has happened on that front yet, and I don't really expect anything in the short term.

So here I am, stuck in a job I don't like, feeling like I don't have many options. The ones I see are:

-Stick it out and hope things get better. I'm confident enough in my own abilities that I'm not worried about the lack of training at Company B. It might be rough in the short term, but whatever. And then keep applying and (hopefully) interviewing for something better.

-Go back to Company A. This is a common thing at the company; it's kind of an inside joke: a significant portion of their new hires are alumni. I confirmed before leaving that I'd be eligible for rehire, and I'm on good terms with pretty much everyone there. I'd almost certainly be able to get my old job back, which I was good at, and the pandemic is a convenient cover story as to why I didn't stay at Company B. The downsides, of course, are that I'd take a pay cut, and that I'd get overwhelmed by the workload again. The issues from the first time around haven't been resolved. Maybe they could be mitigated somehow? Like, if I talked to my old boss about coming back, but with conditions about workload and work-life balance or something.

-Unemployment? Get myself fired and collect unemployment benefits? I don't know, this is just spitballing. But theoretically, it would cover all my expenses except daycare. If I'm not working, we could pull the kids out of daycare, and the net result to our finances would be about the same as if I kept working and paying for daycare, plus I'd be able to spend more time with my kids. It would give me a lot of time to look for new jobs as well. The primary downside would be for the kids: my daughter just loves going to school, and even with reduced class sizes, she enjoys the social aspect. I'm not sure my wife would be thrilled, either. Gender roles, you know.

Is there another option I'm not thinking of? Is there a way to make one of the options less bad? What would you do?
posted by kevinbelt to Work & Money (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Unless you're absolutely miserable, just stay and wait out the ramp-up time + global health catastrophe. In a few months when things go back to normal(ish, presumably) you'll be up to speed at your new job, and be able to evaluate it a lot more fairly for what it normally is. You're only seeing greener pastures right now when you look back.
posted by so fucking future at 7:47 AM on March 31, 2020 [21 favorites]

How much can you mentally check out of work at Company B without anyone getting upset with you? What kind of expectations are they putting on you there?

In your position I would probably try to minimize my workload and stress at Company B by investing as little mental energy as possible, ride out the pandemic for a few months, then start looking for a new position if things don't improve. It's totally reasonable that you can't invest your full attention right now anyway, given the level of uncertainty that your family and friends are dealing with -- everyone has a lot on their minds right now.

(I'm in a sort of similar position in that I was thinking about switching fields, then the pandemic happened -- I'm going to ride it out and definitely not make any major career changes right now while I still have a stable job.)
posted by mekily at 7:59 AM on March 31, 2020 [2 favorites]

In your shoes I would stick it out. You have no real idea of what company B is like to work for when there’s not a major public crisis going on. In particular the fact that you can’t hang out with your new coworkers in person leaves you without any social connection to your job.

Right now our lives are warped by dealing with this crisis, and making long-term plans based on what we see today is not a good idea. Settle in, keep your better salary, and evaluate again in a few months.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 8:13 AM on March 31, 2020 [9 favorites]

Wait for a while at B and don’t even consider A unless they give you a raise to come back.
posted by SaltySalticid at 8:20 AM on March 31, 2020 [5 favorites]

Please don't try to manipulate things so that you go on unemployment. That's really not ethical in a time like this. Save unemployment for the people who are actually getting laid off who have no other options, please.
posted by k8lin at 8:21 AM on March 31, 2020 [7 favorites]

It's not fair to compare Company B in the middle of a crisis after just joining with your good memories of Company A during normal times. It sounds very much like your brain is combining your issues with Now In General with Company B and you should try very hard to resist that. There's no way you can know that it's not very social in general, when you've never seen it in a normal situation.

You have no reason to leave, things are bad but leaving will probably make them worse. Now is a good time to self train on whatever you want, and pick a part of the company to aim at moving into. Things are going to be weird for months so there's a good chance you could actually change some of the things that bother you as the company realign during the transition back to normal
posted by JZig at 8:54 AM on March 31, 2020 [1 favorite]

Unemployment? Get myself fired and collect unemployment benefits?

If your daycare is on day-to-day, this could solve itself, as you might be eligible for the new family care paid leave if the daycare closes.

So don't get yourself fired, but maybe this could work out the way you're thinking.
posted by Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug at 9:10 AM on March 31, 2020

Response by poster: Yeah, quick point of clarification: I don’t *want* to get fired and/or go on unemployment. Just leaving as an option if it comes to that. A backup plan in case the new company agrees that we’re not a good fit.
posted by kevinbelt at 9:33 AM on March 31, 2020

If you could get fired and it not be a total disaster, that's already a positive. Would give you space to figure out your next move if it happens.

In the meantime, I vote with the others who say keep your head down & stick it out with B until things get back to somewhere near normal. Who knows what else will be different by the time we get there?
posted by rd45 at 10:01 AM on March 31, 2020 [1 favorite]

The big question is whether working with the big client will be a deal breaker for you. It's not really fair to judge a company's training and chitchat right now, but the nature of the client probably isn't going to change much, even if everyone is high strung right now.
posted by Candleman at 11:08 AM on March 31, 2020

You're anxious, and you're lonely. Probably within the next week or so, your wife and kids will be at home with you. Sit tight, give your meh job lip service for a while, and hang out here.
(Consider blocking the virus-tagged stuff). Returning to Company A does you no favors, and in these circumstances, I think unemployment would be another source of stress for you.
posted by Iris Gambol at 8:01 PM on March 31, 2020 [1 favorite]

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