Author Topic: leave unsatisfying cushy job for stressful exciting job?  (Read 7453 times)

Case

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leave unsatisfying cushy job for stressful exciting job?
« on: April 09, 2015, 07:55:08 PM »
I'm looking for some advice on when to decide to pursue new employment.  My situation is slightly complex:

I am highly specialized scientist.  Because good jobs for my profession are not in as diverse job locations as software engineers, I ended up in a small town where there are only two companies.  Switching to a new location is tricky because our field offers jobs in limited locations, and also because I have a spouse who would have to switch jobs as well.

My current job at Company A is by no means bad.  The benefits are good and the pay is decent.  The environment is relatively relaxed.  However, I have found the job less than satisfying in terms of the sense of accomplishment one gets from one's job.  It has been this way since day one, and I am now several years in.  The work I do can sometimes be interesting, but I feel like I have little impact on the company/world because I have been stuck on crappy projects (can't get into details).  Getting onto new projects is not so simple; possible, but not simple and not a guarantee.  I've been waiting for a while now to see if my job would improve... there is always a chance things will change as the company is often evolving, but I don't know how long I"ll have to wait.  It's an unknown.  Regardless of this, I feel that there are very few people at Company A that I have to look to as role models, or who can help me develop into an accomplished scientist.  I have found myself having mini-manic/depressive cycles at my job because I don't know how to redirect my career in a more fulfilling direction at company A.  It has been this way for so long that I'm starting to feel defeated.

I could try to switch to different parts of Company A... or with similar effort I could to try to switch to the other company in town: 
Company B has more of a reputation for being technically strong, and so perhaps there is a better chance of the job being fulfilling.  They have more of a presence in the field, and a stronger reputation.  There definitely are more role models at Company B.  The risks are that job B is a more intense/stressful work environment and they gets less vacation (the possibility of going back to 2 weeks vacation is annoying).  This is not an atypical trade off, I would guess.  Also not surprisingly, Company B pays better.

I am not too far off from FIRE.  In fact, if I had to I could FIRE very soon.  But, I want to work an extra 5 years or so because I spent so long in school, and ideally I'd like to have a career where I accomplished something awesome.  I am willing to work harder at Company B to make this happen.  I am a little nervous about the more stressful environment, but also since I am close to FIRE, that does give me a blanket to fall on.  I would be sad about going back to 2 weeks vacation, because it would mean seeing my family less.  If I got an offer from them, I'd try to negotiate for vacation time, but Company B has a reputation for not negotiating.

So, I feel like it comes down to:
-Risking my current decent job which has cushy benefit but doesn't give much satisfaction and is part of Company A which is not exactly stellar
-in order to work at Company B where I am more likely to get job fulfillment, but I might be worked half-to-death in the process, and will have less free time to see family/friends.

Any thoughts or life experiences are welcome.

~Case

patricles

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Re: leave unsatisfying cushy job for stressful exciting job?
« Reply #1 on: April 09, 2015, 08:26:35 PM »
Just recently I quit a safe, cushy, high paying engineering position where I felt completely unfulfilled and spent every minute of every day waiting for the clock to strike 5.  I now am self employed as a medical device consultant.  My hours are erratic, the pay is less, the projects are only somewhat stable, I have to foot the bill for my own benefits...and I love every minute of it.  It's a very personal dilema you have in front of yourself, only you know how risk adverse/ambitious/etc you really are, but from the way you worded company A, company B, and your closing comment about postponing FIRE 5 years in order to have a significant career accomplishment I think you know which choice you want to make.

Best of luck to you either way!

okits

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Re: leave unsatisfying cushy job for stressful exciting job?
« Reply #2 on: April 09, 2015, 08:53:47 PM »
I think you already know what to do.  Make the switch.

If you're enthusiastic about your work at Company B, you may work more but it might not exhaust you because you're engaged, excited, learning, challenged. If you have career goals to achieve before RE, go where you can achieve them.

You said Company B would pay more. If they won't budge on the vacation time, ask if you can take a week off, unpaid. The pay increase and unpaid week might cancel each other out, but you'll be someplace you can achieve the career accomplishments you want, and happier.

Valhalla

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Re: leave unsatisfying cushy job for stressful exciting job?
« Reply #3 on: April 10, 2015, 01:26:31 AM »
Aside from what's been said, it's going to come down to compensation.  How much more will the new gig pay?

There is never any harm in interviewing and getting a job offer, and then decide what to do.


mikesinWV

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Re: leave unsatisfying cushy job for stressful exciting job?
« Reply #4 on: April 10, 2015, 05:23:53 AM »
As part of the discussions with Company B, ask for more vacation starting Day 1.  It is not unheard of.  Or, what if you worked 80% and had more flexibility?

Case

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Re: leave unsatisfying cushy job for stressful exciting job?
« Reply #5 on: April 10, 2015, 05:31:47 AM »
Aside from what's been said, it's going to come down to compensation.  How much more will the new gig pay?

There is never any harm in interviewing and getting a job offer, and then decide what to do.

I am expecting a 5-10% increase in salary.  It's enough to notice, but it's not huge.  As time progresses, the differences between pay at the two jobs may become more sizable; i don't have data points to know.  Glassdoor generally only works well for entry level jobs.

Getting some unpaid leave might be a possibility.

Because my spouse works at company B, once I go down that road, there is some degree of commitment made.  In other words, me being her spouse helps me get an interview.  I would be concerned about it reflecting negatively on her if I did not accept if I got an offer.  This is the main reason I am trying to make predictions ahead of time.

Case

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Re: leave unsatisfying cushy job for stressful exciting job?
« Reply #6 on: April 10, 2015, 05:33:35 AM »
As part of the discussions with Company B, ask for more vacation starting Day 1.  It is not unheard of.  Or, what if you worked 80% and had more flexibility?

What do you mean by working 80%?

If I go to work at company B, I will be working full-time, and giving it my all; there is no getting around that.

chasesfish

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Re: leave unsatisfying cushy job for stressful exciting job?
« Reply #7 on: April 10, 2015, 05:36:19 AM »
I think everyone's mileage may vary.

I made a similar move within the same company, I'm close to FIRE, which means the stress is real but its very different than the stress of "if I don't do well they'll fire me".  I eventually settled into the mindset that I'm paid to play a game, teach others the game, and I happen to be pretty good at it.

Personally, the two weeks of vacation would be a deal killer for me.  I'd inquire about the unpaid time off too.


Case

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Re: leave unsatisfying cushy job for stressful exciting job?
« Reply #8 on: April 10, 2015, 05:43:24 AM »
I think you already know what to do.  Make the switch.

If you're enthusiastic about your work at Company B, you may work more but it might not exhaust you because you're engaged, excited, learning, challenged. If you have career goals to achieve before RE, go where you can achieve them.

You said Company B would pay more. If they won't budge on the vacation time, ask if you can take a week off, unpaid. The pay increase and unpaid week might cancel each other out, but you'll be someplace you can achieve the career accomplishments you want, and happier.

I think it will still exhaust me, although I'm hoping it will be more fulfilling and will give me better opportunities to develop into an accomplished scientist.  I wonder if I can orchestrate a move within Company A to get me into a more fulfilling position... but it is complex and i don't know how to predict my likelihood of success.

I think the main potential issue in the way is the less vacation time; this is what keeps me on the fence.  The main reason this is an issue is because my parents are getting older, and I want to be able to see them a fair amount while they are still in good health.  If I have less vacation time, I will still try to see my parents with similar frequency, but as a result I will have little vacation to use towards fun/relaxation.

American companies and their vacation policies, ugh!

mikesinWV

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Re: leave unsatisfying cushy job for stressful exciting job?
« Reply #9 on: April 10, 2015, 07:00:38 AM »
Working 80% meaning you work 4 days/week or 32 hours.

Again, ask for more vacation up front.  I spent 10 + years in benefits consulting. 

mikesinWV

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Re: leave unsatisfying cushy job for stressful exciting job?
« Reply #10 on: April 10, 2015, 07:07:46 AM »
Yes, it is often negotiable if you do it while in the interview phase.  Vacation is part of compensation.

elaine amj

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Re: leave unsatisfying cushy job for stressful exciting job?
« Reply #11 on: April 10, 2015, 07:20:00 AM »
My husband moved from his cushy boring job of 15 yrs recently to an exciting, much more stressful job that he has always dreamed of. I do miss all the spare time and energy he always had - he certainly has less time to handle things he used to handle. And he is often more grouchy at home. But the pay was much better (30%) and more time off. As a college professor, his time off is in the summer though - when I have to work. So it has impacted our other vacations throughout the year. It sucks - but it does pave the way for future part time work opportunities when we retire.

As for vacation, it really depends on your company I guess. In mine, they would sooner pay more than give more vacation. Apparently it is more obviously inequitable to the other staff....even unpaid vacation. For my DH's college, vacation is not negotiable due to the nature of the job.

Good luck with your decision!

Case

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Re: leave unsatisfying cushy job for stressful exciting job?
« Reply #12 on: April 10, 2015, 08:07:00 AM »
Working 80% meaning you work 4 days/week or 32 hours.

Again, ask for more vacation up front.  I spent 10 + years in benefits consulting.

Unfortunately, there is no way that the company would allow that, or any company I can think of in my field. 

Krolik

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Re: leave unsatisfying cushy job for stressful exciting job?
« Reply #13 on: April 10, 2015, 08:50:16 AM »
Is vacation actually negotiable when you are in the process of getting hired?  I thought it was just a benefit that you received.

Yes, it is possible when the company really wants to hire you.
My husband was able to negotiate 4 weeks vacation. Normally new employees get 2 weeks here. He specializes in a narrow field and the company was looking for candidates for a long time. We were very lucky and they agreed to everything he asked for (including a job for me because I had to quit my old job in order to relocate for his new job).
« Last Edit: April 10, 2015, 08:52:23 AM by Krolik »

Numbers Man

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Re: leave unsatisfying cushy job for stressful exciting job?
« Reply #14 on: April 10, 2015, 10:22:00 AM »
Go for the new job to fulfill your intellectual capacity.

JoJo

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Re: leave unsatisfying cushy job for stressful exciting job?
« Reply #15 on: April 10, 2015, 12:23:30 PM »
Another vote to get more vacation time.

When I started at my current company, I had 8 years experience.  They basically gave me 5 years credit towards the time off scale which pretty much means an extra week of vacation each year than if I restarted at '0'.


AlwaysBeenASaver

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Re: leave unsatisfying cushy job for stressful exciting job?
« Reply #16 on: April 10, 2015, 12:31:43 PM »
You mentioned you could try to switch to a more fulfilling position in your current company but don't know how it would work out. Why don't you give it a try, and if it doesn't work out, then apply to Company B?

Case

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Re: leave unsatisfying cushy job for stressful exciting job?
« Reply #17 on: April 11, 2015, 11:38:25 AM »
You mentioned you could try to switch to a more fulfilling position in your current company but don't know how it would work out. Why don't you give it a try, and if it doesn't work out, then apply to Company B?

Due to timing of hire cycles, if I want to initiate with Company B, I need to do it soon.  I could put off until next year, but the more I delay, the less far along I get in the process versus time.

It's really hard to to predict what my future in Company A is without someone else being in that company.  A year or so ago I got a new manager.  Prior to that I was about to walk.  So, when I got the new manager I said "i'll give this guy 6 months to see if he can turn things around, and if not I'll walk".  After 6-12 months, the new manager has definitely improved things, but not enough; critical problems remain.  Will my current job in Company A improve?  Will my manager speed up his changes at all?  Who knows, but based on past record it will be slow.  Company A is going in the right direction, but so so slowly. 
In other groups in Company A, my coworkers are getting the profession experience that I desire.  But, switching to their group is quite tricky because my manager might not want to lose me, or the other group might not want me.  Beyond this, other groups in Company A are an unknown; I don't know whether there are other good options out there.  I am fairly confident that other groups having the level science I am hoping for are low.

Additionally, there remain some critical problems with Company A that can only be changed with changes in leadership, as well as the turn over of past generations and moving forward of new generations.   Company B doesn't have these problems, or the other ones mentioned above, but has some tradeoffs such as a more cut-throat environment and less benefits (vacation especially).  And these tradeoffs could be major; if I lost vacation time and was able to see my parents less, and their health suddenly declined, I would feel significant regret for the rest of my life for not seeing enough of them during the good years.

What Company B probably does have is a higher caliber of scientist; sometimes I feel like the best way to grow and improve yourself is to put yourself in an environment where people are more talented than yourself.  Then in addition to be pushed to improve, I'll have people that can more effectively show me the way.  I really don't feel like this is present in Company A.

I feel like trying to predict the future of a company in this regards is like trying to predict the stockmarket (in some ways they are one in the same).

In regards to your question:
I could try to move around my current company (A) first, but I would feel a little guilty if I orchestrated a move and then left the company.

I could also apply to company B, and if they don't accept my negotiations on vacation, then decline the offer.  However, the risk is that work of my attempt to work at Company B will reach Company A.  This would obviously be unprofessional, but it's always a possibility.

Case

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Re: leave unsatisfying cushy job for stressful exciting job?
« Reply #18 on: April 11, 2015, 12:43:18 PM »
Another vote to get more vacation time.

When I started at my current company, I had 8 years experience.  They basically gave me 5 years credit towards the time off scale which pretty much means an extra week of vacation each year than if I restarted at '0'.

Definitely will try!
I know that sometimes the company does not negotiate salary as a policy;   we'll see if that policy is the same on vacation.

Bearded Man

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Re: leave unsatisfying cushy job for stressful exciting job?
« Reply #19 on: April 11, 2015, 01:01:27 PM »
I guess I will be go against the grain on this one. I say stay at your cushy job. Reality is you will likely not be fulfilled at company B either. I say stick to what is proven and ride that until it ends. Build your investments in the meantime and then you can do whatever you want. I think you have a good thing going and changing that just to feel like you accomplished something is risky. If you have a million plus in the bank, do it, otherwise, build that nest egg where you are now, THEN pursue what you want. Right now focus on building that nest egg that makes you money to live on.

Valhalla

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Re: leave unsatisfying cushy job for stressful exciting job?
« Reply #20 on: April 11, 2015, 01:03:35 PM »
One concern I have is possibility of working with spouse.  I like to avoid working with family / friends so as to reduce potential points of friction.

step_away

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Re: leave unsatisfying cushy job for stressful exciting job?
« Reply #21 on: April 11, 2015, 01:53:59 PM »
One concern I have is possibility of working with spouse.  I like to avoid working with family / friends so as to reduce potential points of friction.

Given that your spouse work in Company B, you may want to stay in Company A just for diversification.

Case

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Re: leave unsatisfying cushy job for stressful exciting job?
« Reply #22 on: April 11, 2015, 08:09:22 PM »
One concern I have is possibility of working with spouse.  I like to avoid working with family / friends so as to reduce potential points of friction.

Given that your spouse work in Company B, you may want to stay in Company A just for diversification.

I would never be on the same project as her; company would not allow, nor would we want it.  Whether I work in the same building as her (e.g. see her or not) would depend on what part of the the company I get put into.

Now, by diversification if you mean reducing risk in the event of one of us getting laid off, the other can then come to the other's company... yes, I have thought of that.  I understand the risk... will consider this as I move forward.  Since we are close to FIRE, the risk of it ruining FIRE is diminished, but it could have some effect on it.