Should I Change Jobs?

Dear Robin:

I have been looking to make a move from my company where I’ve been for three years because even though I like my job and co-workers, there isn’t much opportunity for growth. I have interviewed twice for a fairly high-level position at another organization and they are bringing me back in on Friday and I think they are going to offer me the job. It’s MUCH more money, more responsibility and a much larger company.

So why am I writing you? This company has a bad reputation. The turnover rate is high and they are known in the business for being a tough place to work, to put it lightly. Their product is also low-performing and somewhat mocked in the industry. The man who would be my boss seems cool but the overall reputation of the company is pretty bad.

I’m 29 and ready to excel in my career but my husband says this is not the way to go. Your thoughts?

Ambitious Anne

Dear Anne:

Goodbye frying pan, hello fire!

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Salvador Dali once noted, “Intelligence without ambition is a bird without wings,” but I think we can flip that around a bit and say instead, “Ambition without intelligence is wings without a bird (or Donald Trump).”

Your husband is a bright fellow. Kudos to him for seeing the big picture here and not encouraging you to make this move for the money.  Taking this position makes about as much sense as leaving your loving, smart husband for an elderly syphilitic alcoholic who will beat you senseless and kick your puppy every morning before he visits the unemployment office and hits the neighborhood bars.

Money is a worthless salve when you suffer the inevitable wounds that result from toiling for an evil empire. You might be able to buy a really nice car, but as your soul slowly shrivels and dries into a tiny black pebble you will find yourself fantasizing about plowing your fancy ride at 65 mph into a bridge abutment during your daily commute.

As for that guy who would be your boss? Don’t take the job because of him. Remember that high turnover you mentioned? If he is a smart and decent man you can bet he is looking to escape from the Death Star and you will soon find yourself working for someone who makes your life miserable.

In addition, whatever time you spend at this company may have a deleterious effect on your resume rather than providing you the career boost you are looking for. You will likely find it horrible and want to leave after a short time, which means you now have a black mark on your work history of being employed short-term.

Nobody likes a job hopper – just ask anyone who’s read my resume.

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I’ve worked for a company just like the one you are considering now. You know why those jobs pay so well? Because nobody else wants them. The Death Star can’t attract good talent so they are riddled with people whose motivations are based upon power and money. That’s why you often have arrogant incompetents at the top of places like this – there is nowhere else for them to go.

For anyone out there considering changing jobs, I recommend you saunter over to the website Glassdoor and see how your prospective employers are rated by their workforce. I did just that for Anne and discovered over 650 reviews by current and former employees that were overwhelming in their scathing consistency.

The only similarly-sized company I could find rated lower than the one Anne is looking at in Portland (2 out of 5) is Holiday Retirement (1.9).  There are some very funny reviews on Holiday, so if you’re bored check them out!  Holiday Retirement Reviews.*

We are all judged by the company we keep including with whom we choose to work. I would not want to be seen as a person who willingly surrounded herself with incompetent and unethical laughingstocks simply to “get ahead.”

Your career has to be about more than base opportunism and reckless advancement – it should tell a story of wise choices made for the right reasons and a desire to be surrounded by the best in your industry.

You are still very young so settle down, take your time, and be smart.  Speak to the powers-that-be where you are now and express your desire to move up within the organization.  You may be surprised: what looks like little room at the top can often be expanded for the right person.  Be that person!

In a TOTALLY unrelated story, I will no longer be contributing to golocalpdx.com, which is why you are all reading this here instead of on that website.

My new site launches soon and it does not make sense for me to drive traffic elsewhere. I am proud of the work I did for them and the large amounts of clicks generated by my work, but the time has come for me to be all about me.

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The new site is looking amazing and we are putting the final touches on it today.  I can’t wait for you all to see it so stay tuned!

-Robin

*Full disclosure: I was a contract employee there for 6 months.

This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. SavageWotan

    This is actually a tough call. I have an instructive story from my own career. Early on I got the opportunity to make a move from a regional law firm to a major international law firm in a big city where I happened to grow-up. I seized the opportunity has a huge step-up to work in the “big leagues”. It was a great firm and my department (lets call it the Widget Group) was headed up by a guy who we will call Dick Smithers. However, starting my first week in town at the new gig whenever I got on the phone to introduce myself, the lawyer on the other side would invariably say something like, “So how do you like working for Dick Smithers?” or “How did you get hooked-up with Smithers?”. I gave an enthusiastic and positive answer that was invariably answered with a grunt. Then a few weeks later I was out at a bar with some of my new colleagues and when the group whittled down to just 4 of us, the 3 young lawyers across from me asked the same question: “How do you like working with Smithers?”. I gave the stock response, and one of them said, “You do realize that he is the worst person to work for in the firm.” Another said, “Actually, he is the worst person to work with in town.” And the third said, “Why do you think everybody in the department has been recruited from other cities. No one in this city will work for him”. It got even better. A few weeks later I was working late, and one of the partners in another group came into my office and shut the door. He said the following: “You seem like a nice, hard-working guy so someone should level with you. Smithers is the kind of lawyer who needs to take 4 associates to the bathroom with him so he has someone to blame it on when he screws it up. Don’t define yourself by success or failure working for Smithers. Learn what you can. In a few years when you leave (and you will), you will say to your new boss at an interview that you worked for Smithers and that person will come around the desk, take you by the shoulders, shake your hand and offer you job on the spot.”

    So it all turned out to be true. I last 3 years with Smithers, and our relationship ended when I told him that I would no longer tolerate is Mussolini-esque tirades. He was a shitty lawyer, a shitty manager and a shitty human being. By the end I was timing my vacations to coincide with his (before or after) to maximize my time out of his sight. But I learned a lot, and my resume and career benefited from my affiliation with the firm. And when I did interview at my next firm, my new partners did not have to ask why I was leaving because having been on widget deals with Smithers they knew what he was all about. And justice is occasionally served–about a year after I left Smither’s partners kicked him out.

    The point being, never make a move to a crappy environment just for the money. Figure out what is bad about the place, and weigh that against the overall potential benefit to your career. Evaluate your own toughness frankly and give yourself a time limit to get out. But if it is the kind of place where they will screw you on the way out by not giving you a good reference or tell the business community that you had been fired when you actually quit, avoid it like the plague.

    1. askdescamp

      Great comment, thank you! Also, I first read your name as “Savage Wonton” and laughed out loud, which is always a wonderful and unusual thing to do on a Monday.

  2. YouCanLeadAHorticulture

    Wonderful advice as always! Can’t wait to see the new website! I’m sure the Portland website is sad to see you, and your faithful followers go.

  3. Nothing To See Here

    I didn’t know about Glassdoor. I thought it would be funny to see what it showed for the DICKs. There was a report of someone interviewing for an administrative assistant job.

    Interview Questions

    Was asked if “foul language” was an issue?

Comments are closed.