Should I stay or should I go?
October 25, 2006 9:48 PM   Subscribe

Help me evaluate the pro's and con's of my current employment situation. I'm contemplating leaving, but have never been a job-hopper, so I don't think I know the time to leave for a new job...

Short employment history: I started working for a small tool repair company when I was 14. I stayed at said company for four years - until they were purchased by a larger repair shop and I was laid off. I had two weeks off and then started in customer service at a medial supply distributor. I've been with this company for almost four and a half years - I'm 23 now. That's it, two jobs.

In my current position, I've acquired more roles than just customer service and I became the assistant to our product manager for our most important product line. I was in charge of processing all orders for this product line and working with customers to resolve problems with their orders. I held this position by myself when the first product manager left and a second filled her place - a total of three years.

In December of 2005, while I was out of the country on vacation, they took this responsibility away from me and gave it to a woman in our data processing department. They didn't talk to me about this before I left, or immediately upon my return. When I noticed that my workload was significantly reduced, I asked our product manager about it and felt mildly dismissed. In February of this year, when I felt that everything I did for the team was no longer my responsibility, I set a meeting with the manager of customer service, the product manager, and our traffic manager (another woman I assist). At this meeting I made my direct manager aware that I was unhappy because I was becoming bored and she assured that she would find something with responsibility for me to do. She kept telling me that I was such a valuable employee, she didn't want to lose me. We've met 4-5 more times do discuss the issue. It's now October and nothing has changed.

There are other reasons I want to leave:
- Increasing frustration with lack of action by management when confronted with problems.
- I live in Chicago and the office is in the suburbs. The commute could be anywhere from 30 minutes to three hours - one way. On an average day, I spend about three hours total in the car.
- I believe that worrying about work is making me mildly depressed, which may be effecting other aspects of my life and relationship with my boyfriend.
- I'm having a harder time controlling my temper at work. I have days where something small could set me off and I'll then spend half an hour in the bathroom lounge crying, or worse yet, speaking harshly with a customer.

Those all seem like reason enough to leave, but here's why I'm hesitant to do so:
- Free health and dental insurance! It's a PPO and everything is covered. I pay nothing.
- I get paid well for a position without a college degree. I can support myself comfortably.
- I love my co-workers in customer service. Since they are all around my same age, we hang out outside of work often and have a blast.
- The dress code is very lax, I can wear jeans and a t-shirt or flip-flops any day of the week.
- I have been there long enough to gain some independence from management and can work under my own direction.
- Knowing the reputation of the hiring manager, my position will not be filled until after I leave, and will be filled with someone brand new - not someone with a year or so of experience at our company. There are a lot of odd jobs that only I know how to do (ie., administrate our VOIP phone system), I'm worried about how these things will be handled if I do leave.

So should I stay or should I go? What is the 'last straw' in a situation like this? Will I encounter similar management problems at other corporations? And finally, I'm sorry this is such a long post. Thanks for reading it! :)
posted by youngergirl44 to Human Relations (20 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
Stay (for now) and apply for work elsewhere. Apply for jobs you'd enjoy. Apply for jobs that are significantly more difficult than what you do now. When you find one that's right (not the first offered to you), give in your notice.

It's entirely possible you will find an employer who is impressed by your enthusiasm, your initiative and who feels that real-world experience is as important as tertiary qualifications.

I've recently quit a job (that was secure, close to home, well paying) because, in the end, my life was worth more than spending 8 hours a day in a position that I loathed. Now, I'm living off my husband (probably not an option for you) while I study full-time for work I'd love. If you can take on distance study, or after hours schooling in a direction you're interested in, it'll probably extend the bearability of your job about another 6 months (it did for me).
posted by b33j at 9:56 PM on October 25, 2006


Oh and I'm still friends with the people I worked with. It's nicer now, in fact.
posted by b33j at 9:57 PM on October 25, 2006


I'm having a harder time controlling my temper at work. I have days where something small could set me off and I'll then spend half an hour in the bathroom lounge crying, or worse yet, speaking harshly with a customer.

This says leave. There are other places with lax dress codes and cool employees. Some of those places even have good benefits and competent management. Do yourself a favor and look for another job; you'll find that it's not as hard as you think to find a place to work that doesn't make you cry.

Oh, and just like b33j, I'm friends with a lot of people I used to work with. If they're good friends, they'll stay good friends.
posted by stefanie at 10:07 PM on October 25, 2006


Working under crummy conditions can take more of a toll than you might estimate, and it sounds like you are already showing signs. You've taken reasonable steps to improve the situation, but your management isn't doing their part (which makes the situation crummier). To be quite honest, it sounds like they are trying to get you to quit because they'd like to replace you with a newer, cheaper employee. Plus, spending 3 hours a day in the car is a waste of your youth.

As for your reasons for staying:
* Free health and dental: You are 23, are you healthy, do you brush your teeth and floss regularly?
* Good pay: This is a trap, especially if it keeps you in a job that no longer works for you (like this one). You'll stay at the job, your enthusiasm, self image and skills will deteriorate until something finally happens and you have to find a new job. Better to act now.
* Dress code: These days, lots of places have casual dress codes, maybe not that casual, but casual enough that you don't need a work wardrobe.
* Independence from Management: It sounds like that's not really an asset right now, since you've been stripped of many of your duties, and not assigned new ones.
* Who will do your job if you leave: Not your problem.
posted by Good Brain at 10:07 PM on October 25, 2006


Don't quit, but start looking for a job. It's MUCH easier to find a job when you're already employed.
posted by lemur at 10:39 PM on October 25, 2006


To be clear, I'm not advocating quitting right now. I am advocating finding a new job so you can quit soon.
posted by Good Brain at 10:51 PM on October 25, 2006


Don't quit, but start looking for a job. It's MUCH easier to find a job when you're already employed.

I am in a similar situation to the OP, is this really true? What are other peoples experience on this? (Especially if you hire people yourself!)
posted by public at 12:41 AM on October 26, 2006


- There are a lot of odd jobs that only I know how to do (ie., administrate our VOIP phone system), I'm worried about how these things will be handled if I do leave.

Don't worry about this and please don't make this a reason to stay.
posted by QueSeraSera at 12:50 AM on October 26, 2006


If you don't have a job, the interviewer will ask, why did you leave your last job, how long have you been unemployed, and while there are some pretty good answers to that, it's best to avoid it all together. By being in an employment, you show that you're in demand. When unemployed, some people's finances make them desperate enough to take the first job offer and not to negotiate.


I've been working for the last 25 years or so, and it's been my experience that is easier to get a new job when I've already got one.

Oh and for the OP, whatever your employer needs you to do, if it was truly important to them, then they would deal with the concerns you've brought to them. Despite all appearances to the contrary, people are very very rarely indispensable to their employers.
posted by b33j at 1:32 AM on October 26, 2006


I hope this isn't out of line, but why don't you go to college? Your post is so clearly written -- you're clearly very smart and literate. Unfortunately, it's kind of inevitable that you're going to hit a wall looking for a job that matches your intelligence and motivation unless you have a degree or some kind of advanced training.
posted by footnote at 5:48 AM on October 26, 2006


Actions speak louder than words. No matter what they tell you, they have not produced. They do not want you there. You do not take away responsibility from someone doing a good job when they are out of the country and not give them other work without expecting (hoping) the outcome is you quit.

Find another job while you can, not when you have to. It is a matter of time.

Good luck.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 6:01 AM on October 26, 2006


I would have to concur with starting to search for another job; I was working as a nurse aid during college, had great dealings with patients and quite a bit of independence after a while. However, once I got on the bad side of the managment (as the primary manager quit and the other was looking for people to fuss with) things went down hill fast and only got worse in the pursuing months. By the way you write, speak, etc, you shouldn't have problems finding something else. Part-time college, etc is a plus; it shows your motivation.
posted by uncballzer at 6:44 AM on October 26, 2006


I am in a similar situation to the OP, is this really true? What are other peoples experience on this? (Especially if you hire people yourself!)

I've been in a position to look through resumes and screen for interviews, and I'm generally less impressed if the person is unemployed and/or has large gaps in their resume. I would definitely want to know what happened; because a layoff is one thing and quitting just because you're miserable is another. If I did your initial interview, OP, and you told me you quit your job because you were bored, I would not recommend we hire you or interview you again. Sometimes work is boring (especially when you're real young and doing the entry-level shit); so I would recommend find a new job and move on.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 8:13 AM on October 26, 2006 [1 favorite]


- Knowing the reputation of the hiring manager, my position will not be filled until after I leave, and will be filled with someone brand new - not someone with a year or so of experience at our company. There are a lot of odd jobs that only I know how to do (ie., administrate our VOIP phone system), I'm worried about how these things will be handled if I do leave.

Totally not your concern.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 8:14 AM on October 26, 2006 [1 favorite]


It's time to begin a new job search. You have some good experience under your belt, and you *will* be able to find a new job with good benefits, college degree or no.

One of the benefits of job hunting while you're already employed is that it gives you a better bargaining position with potential new employers. There are many good job-placement agencies in Chicago. Send your resume in to a few of them. Scour the ads on Monster and Career Builder, even on Craigslist.
posted by smich at 8:24 AM on October 26, 2006


Scour the ads on Monster and Career Builder, even on Craigslist.

Better still: Indeed.com
posted by sgass at 10:21 AM on October 26, 2006


you are not satisfied. that alone is all the reason you should ever need to start thinking about your future. all those small things that bug you will only get worse with time.

start thinking about college. take a couple classes on the side. don't quit just yet, figure out what the logical next step on your way up will be and keep the job for a while to keep you floating. build savings - you will need them if you change jobs.

you have experience. seriously, go and get a college degree in something you are *really* interested in. that would make for a winning combination.
posted by krautland at 10:34 AM on October 26, 2006


Don't quit, but start looking for a job. It's MUCH easier to find a job when you're already employed.
I am in a similar situation to the OP, is this really true? What are other peoples experience on this? (Especially if you hire people yourself!)

I think it is just easier to find the RIGHT job when you are not worrying about running out of money -- you are not tempted to take the first job that comes along.

(Oh, and Nth'ing start looking for a new job, and if you are intrigued by the option, perhaps some classes part-time)
posted by misterbrandt at 12:42 PM on October 26, 2006


footnote: You have a valid question. My parents are divorced, and I lived with my mother through high school. She made no money, we were on and off welfare for a while, had our utilities turned off, and eviction was a semi-consistant threat. My father, however, made too much money (on paper - not enough that he could pay for college outright) for me to qualify for any aid from the feds. I would have received about $1000/year from my school. I never had much guidance (at home or in high school) in applying for scholarships, so that wasn't an option. I got scared by the idea of graduating with a ton of debt and decided not to go away to school full-time.

I continued working and took classes at the local community college as I could afford them - no school debt here. I have to supply my father's tax information when applying for FAFSA until I'm 25. I'm kinda following this thread for some ideas, but my father has not abandoned me. So perhaps I should start some classes in Chicago until I hit that magic 25th birthday. But this idea would require some direction in what to study...

I'm also fiercely independent and don't think I really want my father to pay for my schooling. Part of me feels like it's my responsibility. I think this is because I've had my own income since I was 14.
posted by youngergirl44 at 10:55 PM on October 26, 2006


I've read that you actually only have to supply your custodial parent's info for the FAFSA (federal student aid). It's the private aid that requires both parents' info.

Yeah, debt is scary, but educational debt is "good debt," as long as it's not too much to handle. You sound like an excellent candidate to get an associates at a community college for cheap part time while working, then transfer to finish up at a state university full time. That should keep your loans down to a manageable level.

Good luck, whatever you decide!
posted by footnote at 12:48 PM on October 28, 2006


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