Author Topic: Feel trapped in my job - What would you do?  (Read 1122 times)

Schaefer Light

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Feel trapped in my job - What would you do?
« on: December 07, 2017, 11:10:00 AM »
I work as the manager of a small technical group.  My group handles a dying service (landline phone service) that's part of a much larger field (telecommunications).  I make a good salary, have good benefits, and I'm mostly happy with the people who work for me.  However, I have two big concerns.  One is being associated with a technology that's clearly in decline.  I was only put into this role about 4 years ago, but we have new upper management and I fear that they see me as the face of this old-school technology.  They weren't here when I was making contributions in other areas.  This leads me to concern #2 - the new upper management folks.  The guy who just took over as our VP got rid of my boss (who was our director) along with three other people about a month ago.  The cuts represented about an 8% reduction in my department's workforce.  I don't know if more cuts are coming, but it would not surprise me if more people are let go next year.  The one positive about the recent cuts is that the people who were let go apparently got healthy packages.

My salary is high enough that I fear it will be really difficult for me to find another job that will pay as much as this one.  While I don't like the job, I've never been too worried about job security until recently.  I wouldn't be surprised if the new folks in upper management tried to sell my division to another company.  I also wouldn't be surprised if they just decided to eliminate my position as I'm one of the few managers left after the recent re-org.

What complicates matters further is that I'm going through a divorce and my alimony payments have already been set based on my current salary.  The way the separation agreement is worded, I'd have to suffer at least a 20% salary loss before the payments would be adjusted.  And even then, the adjustment would be small in comparison to the loss of salary.

I just feel trapped by this whole situation.  If I could find a job that was a better fit for me, I'd be happy to work for a lower salary if it wasn't for the alimony payments hanging over my head for the next two years.  I just can't see myself voluntarily taking a pay cut until I'm done paying alimony.

What would you do?  Would you take a pay cut if you were having to pay what amounts to an extra mortgage payment each month?  I don't even know what kind of job I'd look for if I was let go tomorrow.  I don't want to be a manager any longer, but I kind of need the manager's salary right now.

Freedomin5

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Re: Feel trapped in my job - What would you do?
« Reply #1 on: December 07, 2017, 09:49:33 PM »
I would do things that would help me regain at least a small sense of control. Sure, many things in this situation are out of your control, but what are some things that are within your control? What was that saying? God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I can't change, the courage to change the things I can change, and the wisdom to know the difference.

So what are the things that are within your ability to change? For example, I would start looking for jobs and editing my CV, not because I necessarily want to leave the job, but because it's good to see what's out there and be prepared. If there are good job opportunities, I would submit my resume and see what comes of it. If nothing comes of it, then that's okay, nothing has changed from your current situation, but if you get a job offer that's as good as your current job, then you have the option of choosing a better situation.

It sounds like, in the past, you were not in landline phone service. So maybe when applying for jobs, try to apply for other areas so that you're not stuck in this "dying service".

Schaefer Light

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Re: Feel trapped in my job - What would you do?
« Reply #2 on: December 08, 2017, 07:02:19 AM »
Thanks, Freedomin5.  I have updated my resume and I've been trying to dedicate some time each week to looking at online job postings.  That can be a bit depressing as there are very few jobs that appeal to me.  I don't think of myself as being joined at the hip with an old-school, dying technology.  I'm just concerned that the new management folks will view me that way.

You're absolutely right about focusing only on those things which I can control and trying not to worry about anything else.  It's just been an extremely stressful year and it feels like I have very little control over anything.  I guess that means I shouldn't have to focus on too many things, though.

hoping2retire35

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Re: Feel trapped in my job - What would you do?
« Reply #3 on: December 08, 2017, 10:35:49 AM »
I am in a somewhat similar, maybe less dire situation as yours. No alimony, just don't make much to begin with so a paycut is out of the question unless it is involuntary.  For now I just keep updating my resume, looking at certifications, and applying for any job that has a benefit over my current one; higher pay, shorter commute, really can't get less stressful other than reducing the slight chance of being let go.

Are there kids involved? Would you move to another region? How much more can you make before the alimony starts to adjust???

Schaefer Light

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Re: Feel trapped in my job - What would you do?
« Reply #4 on: December 08, 2017, 10:50:18 AM »
Are there kids involved? Would you move to another region? How much more can you make before the alimony starts to adjust???

Luckily, we didn't have kids.  I would be willing to move, but I'd want to stay somewhere in the southeastern US.  And I don't believe my alimony could be increased, but that's a good question.  I'd have to look at the separation agreement again to be sure, but since it's supposed to be based on our standard of living at the date of separation I don't think it could ever go up.  When we were working with the lawyers, my big concern was what would happen if I lost my job or had a substantial decrease in salary.
« Last Edit: December 08, 2017, 10:52:02 AM by Schaefer Light »

hoping2retire35

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Re: Feel trapped in my job - What would you do?
« Reply #5 on: December 08, 2017, 12:34:52 PM »
What about Atlanta or Charlotte or just somewhere where you can make a lot more to relieve the weight from around your neck, if only for a few years. Basically what I was implying.

Schaefer Light

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Re: Feel trapped in my job - What would you do?
« Reply #6 on: December 11, 2017, 05:51:05 AM »
What about Atlanta or Charlotte or just somewhere where you can make a lot more to relieve the weight from around your neck, if only for a few years. Basically what I was implying.

That's a thought.  I'm certainly open to moving.  I just don't see many jobs with higher salaries that I feel qualified for.

Linda_Norway

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Re: Feel trapped in my job - What would you do?
« Reply #7 on: December 11, 2017, 06:44:28 AM »
Could you internally in your company let the higher level know you are interested in changing your area of expertise? Are there any positions open from time to time that you could apply for?

If you would start working somewhere else for a 20% reduced income, this reduced income is also used for calculation of the % that your employer contributes to your 401. It is also the basis for your future promotions. Maybe therefore it is best to keep working for as high a salary as you can. But I understand it is unreasonable to have to pay a fixed amount of alimentation if your income would go down by only 10%.

Schaefer Light

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Re: Feel trapped in my job - What would you do?
« Reply #8 on: December 11, 2017, 10:38:33 AM »
Could you internally in your company let the higher level know you are interested in changing your area of expertise? Are there any positions open from time to time that you could apply for?
There are positions that are open occasionally.  I'm very reluctant to say anything to the higher-ups about wanting to change positions, though.  I think they'd start seriously considering whether they could just do away with my position if I were to open that can of worms.

What might work is simply talking to my manager and asking him if there's an area of need in which I could provide some assistance.  I probably wouldn't land a new job taking this approach, but I might be able to turn my current job into something better.

Dr.Jeckyl

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Re: Feel trapped in my job - What would you do?
« Reply #9 on: December 12, 2017, 01:21:07 PM »
Thanks, Freedomin5.  I have updated my resume and I've been trying to dedicate some time each week to looking at online job postings.  That can be a bit depressing as there are very few jobs that appeal to me.  I don't think of myself as being joined at the hip with an old-school, dying technology.  I'm just concerned that the new management folks will view me that way.

You're absolutely right about focusing only on those things which I can control and trying not to worry about anything else.  It's just been an extremely stressful year and it feels like I have very little control over anything.  I guess that means I shouldn't have to focus on too many things, though.

WOW, it's almost like I wrote this. This mirrors my situation except the separation. I'm happily married. But I too am in a dying part of the telecommunications industry. I'm a manager who is finding it difficult and depressing to slog through the online want ads to find something that seems interesting. My team shrinks every year and I'm wondering when it will shrink to a size that doesn't need me. Most of the jobs paying what I get paid do not have the autonomy, pay, or work schedule that my job offers. I guess I'm in a good position because I have a job and can be picky but I get so down because there doesn't seem to be anything that I'd enjoy doing out there. I've even thought about going back to school for a different field but I doubt I'd ever get the ROI from the extra schooling.

Schaefer Light

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Re: Feel trapped in my job - What would you do?
« Reply #10 on: December 12, 2017, 02:15:54 PM »
WOW, it's almost like I wrote this. This mirrors my situation except the separation. I'm happily married. But I too am in a dying part of the telecommunications industry. I'm a manager who is finding it difficult and depressing to slog through the online want ads to find something that seems interesting. My team shrinks every year and I'm wondering when it will shrink to a size that doesn't need me. Most of the jobs paying what I get paid do not have the autonomy, pay, or work schedule that my job offers. I guess I'm in a good position because I have a job and can be picky but I get so down because there doesn't seem to be anything that I'd enjoy doing out there. I've even thought about going back to school for a different field but I doubt I'd ever get the ROI from the extra schooling.

That sounds familiar.  I also get depressed looking at job postings because so many of the positions I see either don't look appealing or I'm not qualified for them.  I've given some thought to transitioning to a different kind of job in the telecom industry that probably wouldn't require extra schooling - like project management or sales.  I'm just not sure I'd like these roles any better than what I'm doing now.  My other concern is that I'm not thinking clearly due to the emotional toll of the impending divorce, so this may not be a good time to be making any big decisions.

I'm beginning to think that my best course of action is to sell my house and try to make the most of my current job.  Getting my hands on the equity in the house will give me enough cash that I won't have to stress over losing my job nearly as much as I am right now.  I don't have much of an emergency fund at the moment due to the legal bills and my wife taking her half of the money, and I don't see a way to build one up very quickly while I'm making the equivalent of two mortgage payments - one for the house and one in the form of alimony.  It bugs me to make such a high salary and not be able to save any money, but that's the situation I'm in right now.

Melf

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Re: Feel trapped in my job - What would you do?
« Reply #11 on: December 12, 2017, 02:53:32 PM »
Any chance your ex-wife will find the next Mr. Right within the next couple months and plan a beautiful Spring wedding?  One can always hope....but then again, I'd personally be likely to remain single out of spite for the next two years and collect every dollar of alimony possible.

I feel for you as far as the job thing.  My entire career was in telecom.  I FIRE'd just over a year ago.  I started off working land lines/circuits and then spent the majority of my years in packet data and Ethernet.  I survived a lot of mergers, re-orgs, spin-offs, down-sizings, etc. over the years.  I don't know how I survived all of those years other than getting good reviews and having a good reputation internally and with customers.  It sounds like you have some options though.  Hopefully you have experience with other technologies besides the POTS stuff so that you can look for positions with other carriers, equipment vendors or even internally. 

I only ever put in for one other job opening during my 24 year telecom career.  I'd been with the company just barely a year when a tech support engineer position that I was nowhere close to being qualified for came open.  Co-workers urged me to apply for it (maybe I should have wondered why) so I did and got the position.  I pretty much stayed in a similar position until I left even though the equipment and technologies I supported changed from voice to data over the years.  I was just never motivated to move up to a managerial position.  I think it was my disdain for corporate speak and yearly reviews that kept me from wanting to advance.

Good luck with whatever route you decide to go.

Schaefer Light

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Re: Feel trapped in my job - What would you do?
« Reply #12 on: December 13, 2017, 10:16:54 AM »
Any chance your ex-wife will find the next Mr. Right within the next couple months and plan a beautiful Spring wedding?  One can always hope....but then again, I'd personally be likely to remain single out of spite for the next two years and collect every dollar of alimony possible.

I don't think there's much of a chance that will happen.  She said she's not seeing anyone and that she needs to spend some time alone before she even considers dating again.  Alimony is a bunch of bullshit, though.  It gets awarded even in no-fault divorces (like mine) and in cases where both parties have jobs and can support themselves (which my wife can clearly do as she's working the same job now that she had when we met).  I understand why alimony would be awarded if one spouse is adulterous or abusive or the other spouse doesn't have a job, but it seems really unfair to me to have to pay it just because she wanted out and I happen to make more money than she does.

The mergers and acquisitions in telecom are ridiculous.  It seems like there are rumors about our company being acquired by one of the huge carriers every year.  I have some experience in broadband and wireless, so hopefully that will help if I decide to switch jobs (or if that gets decided for me ;).  Everyone says it's best to find a new job when you already have a job, but it's tough to leave a position that pays well when you can't find another one that looks attractive.  Which is why I feel trapped.

mm1970

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Re: Feel trapped in my job - What would you do?
« Reply #13 on: December 13, 2017, 01:50:53 PM »
Any chance your ex-wife will find the next Mr. Right within the next couple months and plan a beautiful Spring wedding?  One can always hope....but then again, I'd personally be likely to remain single out of spite for the next two years and collect every dollar of alimony possible.

I don't think there's much of a chance that will happen.  She said she's not seeing anyone and that she needs to spend some time alone before she even considers dating again.  Alimony is a bunch of bullshit, though.  It gets awarded even in no-fault divorces (like mine) and in cases where both parties have jobs and can support themselves (which my wife can clearly do as she's working the same job now that she had when we met).  I understand why alimony would be awarded if one spouse is adulterous or abusive or the other spouse doesn't have a job, but it seems really unfair to me to have to pay it just because she wanted out and I happen to make more money than she does.

The mergers and acquisitions in telecom are ridiculous.  It seems like there are rumors about our company being acquired by one of the huge carriers every year.  I have some experience in broadband and wireless, so hopefully that will help if I decide to switch jobs (or if that gets decided for me ;).  Everyone says it's best to find a new job when you already have a job, but it's tough to leave a position that pays well when you can't find another one that looks attractive.  Which is why I feel trapped.
It gets awarded because being married creates a team and is a contract, and dissolving the contract means you have to renegotiate.  I've had this conversation with others - yes your ex has the same job she's always had, but whose to say she couldn't have gotten a better job, and chose not to, due to the marriage? 

And that is true no matter how the marriage ended, whether or not you have kids.  There's a formula.  I have a friend without kids who got divorced, and her alimony was based on the # of years married and their 2 incomes.  In at least one case, a woman I know pays alimony because she always made more money than her husband, even though their kids are grown and out of the house.

I have one friend who got divorced - his ex wanted $5000 and the computer.  He got really mad, as he paid all of the bills.  But her income was "her money" and her parents would give her money.  I said "man, you make $67k and she makes $35k.  She could take half AND get alimony.  Give her the $5000!"  That was decades ago.

Schaefer Light

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Re: Feel trapped in my job - What would you do?
« Reply #14 on: December 13, 2017, 01:52:31 PM »
Any chance your ex-wife will find the next Mr. Right within the next couple months and plan a beautiful Spring wedding?  One can always hope....but then again, I'd personally be likely to remain single out of spite for the next two years and collect every dollar of alimony possible.

I don't think there's much of a chance that will happen.  She said she's not seeing anyone and that she needs to spend some time alone before she even considers dating again.  Alimony is a bunch of bullshit, though.  It gets awarded even in no-fault divorces (like mine) and in cases where both parties have jobs and can support themselves (which my wife can clearly do as she's working the same job now that she had when we met).  I understand why alimony would be awarded if one spouse is adulterous or abusive or the other spouse doesn't have a job, but it seems really unfair to me to have to pay it just because she wanted out and I happen to make more money than she does.

The mergers and acquisitions in telecom are ridiculous.  It seems like there are rumors about our company being acquired by one of the huge carriers every year.  I have some experience in broadband and wireless, so hopefully that will help if I decide to switch jobs (or if that gets decided for me ;).  Everyone says it's best to find a new job when you already have a job, but it's tough to leave a position that pays well when you can't find another one that looks attractive.  Which is why I feel trapped.
It gets awarded because being married creates a team and is a contract, and dissolving the contract means you have to renegotiate.  I've had this conversation with others - yes your ex has the same job she's always had, but whose to say she couldn't have gotten a better job, and chose not to, due to the marriage? 

And that is true no matter how the marriage ended, whether or not you have kids.  There's a formula.  I have a friend without kids who got divorced, and her alimony was based on the # of years married and their 2 incomes.  In at least one case, a woman I know pays alimony because she always made more money than her husband, even though their kids are grown and out of the house.

I have one friend who got divorced - his ex wanted $5000 and the computer.  He got really mad, as he paid all of the bills.  But her income was "her money" and her parents would give her money.  I said "man, you make $67k and she makes $35k.  She could take half AND get alimony.  Give her the $5000!"  That was decades ago.
And I still say it's bullshit.  You're right that there's a contract, and in my mind the contract says "til death do us part".  She didn't live up to her end of the contract.

Also, my wife had better opportunities to pursue other jobs due to our marriage.  I told her she could quit to pursue other jobs any time she wanted to.

I really don't want to argue about alimony, though.  I think it's total bullshit, but I still have to pay it.  I just want to overcome this feeling of being trapped.
« Last Edit: December 13, 2017, 02:13:09 PM by Schaefer Light »