Another should I stay or go?
May 1, 2021 4:31 AM   Subscribe

I’ve been offered a new job, but the new company isn’t as good as my current one. But there are troubles at my current job which caused me to seek out new opportunities in the first place. I want to talk it over with the current company, but is that the best approach?

I work for a very large international consulting engineering firm in a technical role and I love the company. They’ve been fantastic through the pandemic and it honestly feels like people care about each other here.

While the company is successful, our local office is in a dry spell. Without getting too deep into the weeds, my industry wins work from state agencies based on the Qualification Based Selection (QBS) process, where procurements are selected purely based on the resumes submitted in proposals. My office is very young, overall, and doesn’t seem to have a lot of credibility with our state agency. As such, we haven’t won a local project in nearly three years.

I think I was hired to help fix that problem since I have 15 years of experience. At a previous company I worked on some of the largest projects our state has ever let. But my resume hasn’t been hitting, either, since being hired. Because the projects I worked on were so big, the project management positions were held by the MOST senior people in the company so I don’t show great PM history, which I think is hurting me now.

After we missed out the last round of selections I casually reached out to an old colleague who works at a much smaller company, and they eventually offered me a position to manage one of their offices. What I like about this opportunity is that with a smaller company you're more often a sub-consultant partner to a larger company, so it’s a good way to build up relationships and experience with the state agency on someone else’s coattails. And this company is a minority-owned Disadvantaged Business Enterprise, so that’s even more valuable for partnering. And by finally getting the management notch on my belt, I could eventually venture out of my current industry and into just general management opportunities anywhere.

In a perfect world, I’d rather stay put. I like the stability that a large company provides. Even though we’re slow locally, we help out with projects in other regions. But I’m a high-dollar employee so it’s harder for me to find that work-share, and nobody ever does work-share for PM roles so I’m still treading water with career development. I’ve never managed an office before, and I’m still not convinced that would be a great role for me.

But, I also don’t want to turn down a career-making role at the new company out of loyalty to the old, and then get let go because there isn’t enough work. And sometimes I think my department would be better off IF I left so they could find someone who had a resume that had a better chance of getting selected.

The big but, though, is that the small company is offering less money and worse benefits.

All of this is to say: 1)What would you do in this scenario, and 2)Is there a way to discuss this with my current company without forcing my hand? I just think that by bringing this up at all, they’ll just tell me to go.
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Are these jobs your only two options? Have you applied to other jobs, and do you even know what else is out there?

It sounds like you're thinking about switching to a job that you're not sure will be a good fit, with more responsibility, for less money and benefits. That sounds like a bad idea. If this job is a bad fit for you it will *not* be a career-making experience. And the money/benefits thing is bad not just because, you know, money and benefits are nice to have and the main reason we work, but also because companies that underpay often undervalue their employees in other ways as well.

If you were miserable in your job, sure, it would make sense to leave. But it sounds like you are mostly worried about your career development, which is a long-term thing that requires a long-term plan, not casually reaching out to an old colleague and accepting the first job offered.

My advice:
- don't accept this job offer
- don't try to get a counter-offer from your current job
- do talk to your current boss about whether there's any way you can get the experience you're looking for at your current company (changing offices? I have no idea how this kind of company works)
- get serious about job-searching
posted by mskyle at 4:59 AM on May 1 [9 favorites]

I would not tell current employer about an offer at another employer. If business in my department is slow, congrats, you just made it to the top of my layoff list! I'll totally choose you before I layoff Jeff over there with three kids and no soft landing. It's not great to ask a boss for free advice about helping a competing company.

I've done project management in a very focused way, then was promoted to managing an office and it's.... OK? Honestly admin and HR things are a big drag on my core career activities. It's mostly time. Dealing with bills, taxes, mail, phones, computer tech support, hiring, scheduling time off, copier repair, IT issues, discipline, meeting management - that's hours each week. Administration is a project that never comes to completion, never goes "out the door."

I keep a running list of extra projects that could advance my career and make the focused part of my job better for me and the company. Many have sat for over ten years untouched for lack of time.

On the other hand - having a capable assistant or associate manager who is good at admin is like getting superpowers.

I think the new place sounds exciting. It's not a bad idea to trade some money and benefits for an increase in quality of life. How casual was this offer? I would do a more formal interview with the new place, find out about assistant or systems in place, and have a list of questions prepared. Even touchy feely ones like: Tell two stories about a day in the life at your company - one a normal easy day, one when things are challenging and busy. In all detail. When do people show up? What were the breaks like? What happened on phones or email during meals or after hours at home? What kind of candidate are you looking for? After one year on this new job, what does success look like for the firm?
posted by sol at 6:38 AM on May 1 [1 favorite]

I know Ask a Manager gets recommended on the green a lot. But in case you don't know it, please go check out Ask a Manager and consider asking your question there. Alison Greene started her blog when she was the chief of staff for a successful nonprofit, where she was responsible for hiring, firing, promoting, and managing. Now she consults on those same issues and is a great resource on this and related topics. Good luck!

I think I was hired to help fix that problem since I have 15 years of experience...
If you haven't gotten any feedback, I would absolutely sit down with your boss to find out why you were hired, how your performance is regarded (is the boss happy with your work? Unhappy?), and if there are opportunities to do more of what you want in terms of career development. In other words, what mskyle said better, above.
posted by Bella Donna at 7:16 AM on May 1 [1 favorite]

Following up on what Bella Donna said, Ask A Manager has some thoughts on why you shouldn’t take a counteroffer.
posted by tiamat at 8:31 AM on May 1

The big but, though, is that the small company is offering less money and worse benefits.

"So, here's the deal, New Company. I'd love to come work for you, but I'm making $X right now, and I just can't change jobs to make less money than I'm making now. It'll have to be at least $Y (>X) for this to make sense for me, unless maybe there are some additional benefits that I don't know about."
posted by Huffy Puffy at 11:42 AM on May 1 [2 favorites]

The OP has some industry specific concerns that are legitimately worrying.
- in A/E/C RFPs, an aging resume can be an impediment to garnering garnering new work. Depending upon what entity is issuing the RFP, it may be that projects older than 5 years do not qualify for submission as previous work experience. This also varies by region. Given the time it takes to get a project off the ground, particularly at the size I think they are referring to here, two years is a narrow window.

Personally, I’d ask the current company business development team how I could get to know more about their work, and express interest in working on the pursuit side of things. This would had two possible results - it would put you on the top of the “How about that guy?” list for the next book to go out and it would help to illuminate other reasons the RFPs aren’t working when they do go out with your name.

Construction is BUSY in the USA right now. It’s a good time to be looking if there ever was a time.
posted by chuke at 3:51 PM on May 1 [1 favorite]

I know I’m a little late on this on, but I wanted to jump in and agree with chuke on the industry specific stuff. Resumes are such a huge part of winning work from state agencies, and your company should be concerned with helping you build yours. I think reaching out to the business development team at your current company, or someone above you that you have a good relationship with is a good start. Don’t approach it as you having another offer and wanting to leave, but rather as you asking how to help the company win work. Ask for their thoughts on the office as a whole winning jobs, how they envision growing your resume, getting you in front of state agency decision makers, etc. If they don’t have ideas, don’t seem concerned, or their answers don’t satisfy you, then yes, it is probably time to think about jumping ship.
posted by Sabby at 9:03 AM on May 6

« Older Does this path to an art therapy counseling career...   |   Looking for kids books with unreliable narrators Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments