Should I take this job?
October 6, 2006 11:05 AM   Subscribe

After several months looking I have a job offer in hand. The work sounds interesting and would take my career in a new, positive direction. But I'm getting a bad vibe.

The salary's decent but below market. The benefits are meh. Worse, I'm sensing a kind of inflexibleness and stinginess. I've been trying to negotiate with them, but all my requests have been shot down except for a 10% bump from their initial salary offer.

One of the people I interviewed with suggested that this is a company where the engineers are considered godlike and everyone else is second tier. (I'm a non-engineer.) It's a privately held company and the founder is very involved in day-to-day business, and by all accounts he's difficult to get along with. The person I'd be reporting to seems quite nice, but possibly not strong enough to fully protect his team from the autocratic higher-ups (a difficult task, to be sure).

I don't want to make this question all about the mommy wars, but another consideration is how torn I am to think of being separated from my 8-month-old baby. We *could* live on just my husband's salary plus whatever I can scrape up freelance, though it will be tight.

Yet... I doubt I would find another opportunity like this, especially so close to home (the job is ten minutes away in the suburb next door). I think I might learn a bunch and stretch my capabilities in new ways, which I'm especially eager to do after so long out of work. The child care center we found looks terrific, tho expensive, and would probably offer my daughter more enrichment and activity and socialization than I can give her at home. My husband suggests that I take the job and quit if I don't like it. I think that once I take it I'll feel obligated to the work and stick it out even if I'm feeling unappreciated.

I keep going back and forth in my mind. They're waiting on an answer. Help me decide.
posted by libraryhead to Work & Money (28 answers total)
My husband suggests that I take the job and quit if I don't like it. I think that once I take it I'll feel obligated to the work and stick it out even if I'm feeling unappreciated.

I'd say that the whole issue is right there in those two sentences. If you really don't need the money and your husband is ready to support you if you quit, I say go for it. But you first have to have the confidence to look out for yourself. You are not a slave, you are a free agent who only has a finite amount of time on this earth. You have to be willing to tell yourself that, in any job situation.
posted by bingo at 11:14 AM on October 6, 2006

Remember that it's a day's wages for a day's work. There is no obligation beyond that.

Decide ahead of time that you can (and will) quit if you don't like it.

If you can make that decision first, then take the job.
posted by blue_wardrobe at 11:14 AM on October 6, 2006 [1 favorite]

There's nothing to lose just by trying this job and see how it goes.
posted by StarForce5 at 11:15 AM on October 6, 2006

I'd say take the job, but give yourself a firm deadline on when you want to re-evaluate and decide if it was a good decision or not. Your birthday, or your daughter's first, something that will be a milestone and will force you to take the time to decide if this was a good move or not.

I've often thought of the advantages of being with my son in the months before he started school, to give us time together before he gets caught up in all the school activities. Maybe you could continue to evaluate this each year, and then leave when she's four and look for a new job when she begins school full-time.
posted by saffry at 11:19 AM on October 6, 2006

Well, what's the worst that can happen? You take the job, decide you hate it, then quit, just like your husband says. Feeling obligated to stick it out is something you should try to talk yourself out of - the paycheck rents your behavior, it does not buy your soul. (On preview, what everyone else said.)

The personality problems sound unpleasant, but every job has something sucky about it and this one has a dream commute, so it's probably a wash.

As far as putting your baby in daycare, IANAParent but I was a kid, and I think it's better for her to get used to socializing with other kids early on. I was kept at home until kindergarten and had almost no opportunity to interact with other children, and I think it was detrimental to my social development. (My social skills are crap, and I think this was part of the reason for my current "handicap".) If the childcare center is close, you might be able to visit your daughter during lunch, if you're the one getting separation anxiety ;)

I'd say go for it, with the firm idea that you can quit if it doesn't work out.
posted by Quietgal at 11:20 AM on October 6, 2006

YOU are in control. You give this job (and it's authoritarian types) 30 days to shape up or ship out. A 30-day job isn't going to be in your skeleton closet, and it won't hurt your family finances if you quit as long as you haven't taken on added expenses. So you're in control!

Hell, if you're shipping this job out, you could say that you got a better offer from another company... you'd cut yourself free and the worst that could happen is they wouldn't counteroffer.
posted by rolypolyman at 11:31 AM on October 6, 2006

My opinion? Don't do it. If you can live on your husband's salary, I say you should take advantage of that and spend as much time as you can with your wondrous, amazing baby. They do grow up quickly, and this time in their lives is so precious. You have the rest of your life to work - you only have a couple of years of having a little babelet to marvel at. (This, of course, assumes you adore your kid - YMMV, I suppose)... :)
posted by tristeza at 11:34 AM on October 6, 2006

No matter how wonderful the daycare is, nothing can replace you! I agree with tristeza and saffry. Perhaps you could hone your skills while at home with the wee one (take a class here and there, etc) and once wee one starts school, you could get an even better job than this one! Of course if you do take the job, you could always quit. There's no shame in that. You try something out and no one can fault you if it just wasn't meant to be! Good luck!!
posted by Sassyfras at 11:44 AM on October 6, 2006

Best answer: I sounds like you would feel guilty any way-- if you take the job, you feel guilty for being away from your daughter, if you don't take the job, you feel guilty for not working and providing for the family, and if you quit early, you feel guilty for wasting your employer's time. You have to know that none of these is true-- you should feel proud that you can make a decision that is right for you.

If you take the job and then quit after, say, 6 months, the company will know that they were just not the right fit for you. No harm to them. What will hurt you is if you continue to work for a company that doesn't value you or you continue to do work you don't enjoy. If you do end up feeliong obligated to the work, set a hard deadline or goal for yourself-- like I'll finish project X, or I'll maintain a schedule of work for X amount of time-- then once you've reached that, you won't feel bad about leaving.

If it's the money you're worried about, try living completely off your husband's salary while you're doing this job. Take all of your income and put it directly into savings. Even a few months of that would probably get you a nice little nest egg, which would be useful while you look for another job or stay home to be with your daughter.
posted by sarahnade at 11:55 AM on October 6, 2006 [2 favorites]

Based on what your husband is saying, and your own fear that if it is awful, you will feel like your stuck there, I suggest this. Pick a target date or two. Say one month and three months after you start. At those points add up the money you've made less the work related expenses you incur (day care, eating out becasue you and/or he barely have the will to live much less cook) and let him tell you if the hits you are taking are worth the wear and tear the place is putting on your soul.

If he's already pointing out that you can get by without the extra income, he's probably in a situation to be much more objective than you will be able to be if it turns out to be medium-ugly.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 11:55 AM on October 6, 2006

I had a similiar situation where I was really interested in the job, but got a bad vibe about the whole place. Especially with the CEO/Owner. I stuck it out for a month, but it was a miserable month.

I've learned the hard way to go with my gut.

If you're really really keen, then try it out for a month, if it works out then great, if not, oh well.

Just don't take any more abuse than you have to, especially from a company owner who treats everyone like crap. It's seriously not worth it.
posted by wilde at 11:59 AM on October 6, 2006

Every time I gave gone against my gut instinct I have regretted it.

If you take the job, I agree with the suggestions above - save some money for a nest egg, and give it 60 days and then re-evaluate. If you're not happy after 60 days, I think you can bail with a clear conscience - but you have to be ready to do what is right for you (and your family) when the time comes.
posted by KAS at 12:20 PM on October 6, 2006

libraryhead - when I read your post I had to go look at your location because it sounds like you might actually be applying for a job with my company. Let's chat offline to find out, shall we? email is in profile.
posted by FlamingBore at 12:26 PM on October 6, 2006

Oh - and to clarify - I work for a company in the Boston area. I'm not nuts. Often. ;)
posted by FlamingBore at 12:27 PM on October 6, 2006

The salary's decent but below market. The benefits are meh. Worse, I'm sensing a kind of inflexibleness and stinginess.

Put me down for another vote of don't do it. Particularly if you got that kind of a message from a current employee in an interview situation. You're thinking of that 10 minute commute as being better than a 30 minute one. Getting to a place where you're going to be unhappy for 8 hours twenty minutes faster is not an advantage.
posted by phearlez at 12:43 PM on October 6, 2006 [2 favorites]

If you already are having bad vibes about this place, it probably won't get better. And since it doesn't sound like you absolutely HAVE to have a job RIGHT NOW for financial reasons, I'd say to pass on this one. There's enough stuff here that you mentioned about the company alone to make me think that the only part of it you'll like is the commute. And if you feel like once you're in, you can't/won't quit...well, don't start at this place, then.

And what phearlez said about the twenty minutes faster bit is brilliant.
posted by jenfullmoon at 1:46 PM on October 6, 2006

I've been in a similar situation. My advice is, if it's your only offer, accept it and consider the job as a stepping stone. Years ago, after a somewhat fruitless job search, I took a job at a firm that had had a really bad reputation for having an abusive environment and overworking its employees for small salaries. I accepted the job anyway, learned a shitload, and stayed a year. (The negative stuff I heard was very overstated, by the way.) Despite the bad things about the place, I am very glad I worked there.
posted by jayder at 4:30 PM on October 6, 2006

We all know that you can quit if you don't like it. However, you sound like the kind of person who might stick out a bad situation at work for many weeks, possibly months, before making the decision to give notice and quit. Most people are like that.

So if you're right, and the job isn't going to be a good situation, by taking it anyway, you're sentencing yourself to possibly months of misery.

Think about it. You'll have the period at the beginning of the job that's no fun because you don't know the job or the people. Then you'll have the period where you don't like the job because it sucks for the reasons you indicate. Then you'll have a couple of weeks where you've given notice, and still have to drag your ass in there to train your replacement, write documentation, or whatever. You could very well be into February or March of 2007 before you get out of there.

Avoid all that by simply listening to your instincts now.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 4:39 PM on October 6, 2006

The child care center... would probably offer my daughter more enrichment and activity and socialization than I can give her at home.

I'm glad women have choices that they didn't once have, but I wish those choices wouldn't make moms feel like they're depriving their babies if they don't put them in daycare! I think that being with parents is natural and great for babies and their development. You can always introduce playtimes with other babies and children. Ideally, as preschoolers get a little older, I think it's nice to gradually increase their child care time, starting with a couple of mornings a week. If you will feel fulfilled being home with your 8-month old a little longer, and your family can financially swing it, I hope you'll do that. It doesn't sound like this is a dream job that you'll regret having missed.

I ran a business that brought me into over a dozen preschools, one or two per day for six years. Several of them were great ones, but I still feel that being with a parent is best for babies. I've read the studies that say there's no detriment to being in daycare, but I sensed a certain kind of quiet confidence and basic happiness on the part of the young kids who weren't there five full days a week. Though I love kids, I'm not a mom, in part because I didn't want to have a baby in full-time daycare, and staying home wouldn't have been practical for me.

Good luck with whatever you decide.
posted by daisyace at 5:41 PM on October 6, 2006

but I wish those choices wouldn't make moms feel like they're depriving their babies if they don't put them in daycare!

at one time "day care" was just the whole tribe watching everyone's kids together. it's not as if one-on-one mommy/baby time is inherently better.

My advice is to challenge yourself when given the chance. make life interesting. You can change your mind later if it really sucks.

But 'my advice' is from someone you don't know and who doesn't know much about you, so my meta-advice is not to base this decision on anyone's take here, but to really consider the trajectory of your life, what will be most fulfilling to you, what you really want and will feel good about in 20 years, etc. good luck.
posted by mdn at 6:45 PM on October 6, 2006

Stay at home with your baby, especially given that you can afford to. Your child will only be young like that for a handful of months and then that time is gone. There's plenty of time later on for career and dull stuff like that. But they can't hold a candle to the memories you make by just being there for your kid(s).
posted by runningdogofcapitalism at 7:41 PM on October 6, 2006

I suggest you take the job.

As everyone has said, if you give it some time and you don't like it, you can quit. The longer you're out of work, the harder it will be to find a job, and it's already been hard for you to get this offer. Take the job, get those new skills, get another role on your CV, and then see how you feel.

Lastly, phearlez and jenfullmoon are complete idiots. 40 minutes saved on the commute is an extra 40 minutes you can spend with your baby every day. How can that possibly not be an advantage? (It's also less money burnt in petrol.)
posted by The Monkey at 8:14 PM on October 6, 2006

at one time "day care" was just the whole tribe watching everyone's kids together. it's not as if one-on-one mommy/baby time is inherently better.

But now-a-days it's one person looking over a whole tribe of little people!
posted by Sassyfras at 8:19 PM on October 6, 2006

I wish there was some positive spin to put on this but from my personal experience, if it doesn't smell right don't do it. I've worked for petty tyrants and bully bosses and no matter whether you quit or not there is a toll on you and your baby before during and after the break. If you really feel you must work, pick a job that is amenable to you, it is your life and the life of your children, after all. The second piece of advice is that the more time you spend with your children young the less time you will worry about them old.
posted by ptm at 8:56 PM on October 6, 2006

First the baby thing: I have a couple of friends really suffering with the pain of leaving their kids and going back to work around the kids' first birthdays. I guess you could answer that it may be easier when they are younger and their personalities less developed, but who wouldn't want the biggest possible part in developing that personality? You can certainly offer more enrichment than daycare, given a little thought. However, if you make a decision that the daycare route is best for your circumstances then use a bit of mental discipline and don't let yourself feel guilty, look at the positive benefits of the arrangement.

Commuting-wise I found at least 20 minutes made a better buffer so that I didn't bring home the stresses of the job and take them out on the children and equally home problems had been submerged in work planning before I arrived in the morning. You may be able to do it in 10 minutes -- but I hope it's not the sort of job where you can just nip back for a bit of work once the child is in bed.

All jobs have their downside, and a decent immediate boss goes a long way to make up for other problems. Sadly, it is routine for women returning to work after having kids to have to take a hit over pay. However, this doesn't sound the dream job to put yourself out for. Talking about "the suburb next door" implies you live somewhere big enough to have a good chance of finding alternatives.

Consider working up the freelance bit, using daycare for part of the week. Invest in a bit of daycare so that you can attend events to pick up more contacts. Factor the cost of steady part-time daycare into your prices. A day or two of childcare a week (or better half-days) is a lot different from having only limited interaction Monday to Friday, and everything having to be packed into crowded weekends (remember you now have more household chores than in the old days pre-baby.)
posted by Idcoytco at 6:05 AM on October 7, 2006

Take the job. If it's really bad, take the satisfaction of quiting on those stupid jerks that didn't respect you properly! There are few things in life more satisfying than being able to quit a lousy job you don't really need.
posted by Goofyy at 6:55 AM on October 7, 2006

My vote is for don't take the job.

My son was born 6 weeks ago, I took a 5 week leave of absence to be at home with him and my wife, and going back to work at a job that isn't terribly fulfilling has su-hucked.

If the job was ringing your bell as absolutely 100% so great a thing that it would be insane to pass up, then it might be a fair trade, but I say for as long as possible stick with your sun.

If you're worried about socialisation and such maybe look into what various parent/baby organisations exist in your area. There's nothing stoping your and your kid from getting out of the house, socialisation doesn't only happen in day cares.
posted by cCranium at 7:10 AM on October 7, 2006

Response by poster: Thanks for all the advice so far. It's really helping bring out the issues, though I'm still flip-flopping. Based on a few responses I can see I didn't make clear the plus side: I have 10 years' experience in an industry I'm feeling pretty burnt out on. The jobs that are available in this area seem pretty uninteresting and the pay in this industry is notoriously low. The new job would be a bridge to a much more lucrative industry that I'm quite interested in. Plus I think I would kick ass at the new gig and I want that opportunity to prove myself. So, I'm leaning toward yes at this point. As much as I would love to stay home with my daughter, the longer I'm out of the workforce, the harder it will be to go back to any sort of career at all.

One issue noone's touched on: My efforts at negotiation have resulted in very little movement on their part. Do I need to worry about losing face if I accept the job anyway? Is there anything I can do to improve the power balance in my favor?
posted by libraryhead at 8:28 AM on October 7, 2006

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