Monday, November 1, 2010

A bird in the hand?

Well folks, the bills have started pouring in, and Christmas is mere weeks away, so I figure it's about time I got serious about looking for a job.

Of course, there was the miserable job/not-job fiasco of September, but nothing substantial since then.

Well, as these things often happen, I got a nibble on a line I had put out several weeks earlier, at the same time as I got a call to interview for another interesting position. Here's the scoop:
Job 1:
  • Term position (maternity leave until March 2011), but Public Service of Canada
  • Adequate salary range
  • Could work with a former (well respected) colleague
  • Health sector, which I LOVE
Job 2:
  • Permanent position, but private industry
  • Adequate salary range (lower than the former position, but some overlap)
  • Smaller organization, so possibly more autonomy
  • Tech sector, for which I have excellent qualifications
So here's the problem: Job 1 has already offered me the job, and their HR department has started the paperwork. So, unlike the job/not-job fiasco, this is looking like a sure thing. The interview for Job 2 isn't until Friday. While there is no guarantee that I will be offered Job 2 after the interview, I am fairly confident that I will be, based on the job description's match to my resume, and my experience with past interviews. (Even despite hair disasters.)

I'm looking at this from two perspectives:
1) What is the Right Thing to Do?
2) If all else were equal, which job do I really want?

I think the Right Thing to Do is to put the brakes on Job 2, since I've already given verbal acceptance to Job 1. If I hadn't been burned in the job/not-job fiasco, I probably wouldn't even be debating this. (Though I have to remind myself that, in that fiasco, I had not been formally offered the job.) I'd just tell Job 2 that I've already accepted another position.

Which job do I really want? Job 2 looks like the more interesting and challenging position; Job 2 1 (typo!) looks like I might be a kind of "float" or filler, which could spell "dead end." Though Job 1 is a term position, once I have my foot in the door, I'm pretty sure I would be able to find something else -- even at a higher level -- in the public service.

What would YOU do? Is it unethical for me to be courting Job 2 while I proceed with the paperwork for Job 1?

Gosh, this feels like dating: is it wrong to date two guys if no one has declared exclusivity? Or is this situation more like continuing dating while I've got a ring on my finger?


  1. I would be honest with the Job 2 folks and tell them that you have a temporary position offered and want them to be aware that a) it is temporary and a permanent role is still one of your priorities, b) your time line is very tight (you do not have time for a lengthy hiring process), and c) you feel that Job 2 has some interesting aspects to it. Then let them decide whether to proceed.
    I had a similar situation and withdrew from an opportunity because the head of HR said it would not be a "fast" decision - the CFO was ticked when I pulled out. It also helped with my negotiating position with the company I eventually went with (I was also honest with them that another company was interviewing me).
    This also increases their first impression of your integrity - an important hiring point nowadays.
    Good Luck either way!

  2. A bird in hand (job 1) is always better than two in the bush (job 2). Thus, plan for job 1 because you've got it, adn don't do anything to sabotage it. That said, permanency (job 2) is better than temp (job 1). So, I agree with the other post-er... tell Job 2 that you've received an offer, but you'd prefer permanent and are very interested in their position. That spells integrity-- and if they want you, makes sure they'll act quickly. And if they can't act quickly, then you know that job 1 is the one.

    Don't worry, I'd say that's ethical. As long as you're up front about it, and you don't yet have a signed contract, you're being reasonable. In this day and age, companies don't expect undying loyalty from employees-- because they don't show that loyalty to us.

  3. Good advice all around. I had already told Job 2 that I had received a job offer but that I was still interested in interviewing. And they were still interested in me. I have not yet asked them about the timeframe for their decision - a good variable to check out. But I think I can leave that for the interview.

    Also - Job 1 told me, in writing, that my first day "could be a while until the paperwork is final." This is government, after all.


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