Job/Career Advice

TL;DR: I’ve been out of work since COVID started and got offered my first job since. It pays less than my old job. I also just got a temp job paying more than the offer and plan on applying for it permanently. The job offer is interesting work, but entry level. The temp job -> perm job would be a nice promotion. Should I just take the job offer or try for the better job?

Preface: I am biased and will do what I want and what I think is best regardless of what you guys suggest. So this post is mainly to think about any angles I may not have thought of. However, here I may try to present my case with those of you that disagree with me, but I will not take anything personally and will try hard not to turn it into a debate and admit there is no right answer.

I worked in local government. I was furloughed at the start of April and my position was officially eliminated in October. [The main reason I haven’t been on this board much since April is because I haven’t needed it to pass the time while siting in front of a computer all day since I no longer sit in front of a computer all day.] I was applying for jobs before I was furloughed because my new director (started in Feb) didn’t like me and the career development plan for my job was cut (before COVID). I had a good second interview in late March for a new job at a state government agency, but then COVID hit and all hiring was frozen. I began applying again in earnest in July when it looked like my employer was not going to bring me back after the furlough. I applied for about 30 open positions since July and had 5 virtual interviews. I also contacted a recruiting and temp agency and told them I wanted to work.

One of those interviews reached out to me to say I was a finalist and asked if they could start checking references and a conduct background check. That was on Oct 20. Since then, I was offered an hourly full time temp job and I started that job 1 week ago Nov 9. For that job, someone is training me to take over for them. He has talked up the job a bunch and says he is only leaving because he wants to be in another industry and was offered the opportunity to build the department from the ground up. He says that the place I am temping was grooming him to take over for the CFO when the CFO retires in 2-3 years. He says that whoever takes his job will also likely be treated that way.

Friday of last week, after working a week at this employer as a temp, I got a call from the place where I was a finalist and they offered me the job. The offer is about 10% less than the job I had when I was furloughed. It is also 2% less than I am currently making hourly as a temp.

I have received thanks and praise from the place I am temping for and it seemed like they would be open to hiring me full time, so I talked to the CFO today and told him I got an offer but I did not accept it. I said that over the course of my first week, I have enjoyed the work and the organisation and I am interested in the position that will open up, but my wife is telling me I should take the job offer. The CFO told me that they are planning on posting the job internally only, meaning I will be the only qualified candidate and they have to do it that way to follow the rules. He has not said anything about salary yet. EDIT: The bottom end of the salary range will be right around my old salary. The top end will be what the exiting guy got. Most likely, it will be somewhere in between - so a raise, but not a huge raise.

Unfortunately, they will be downgrading the title from Director to Manager. So they are probably looking to pay the new person less than the guy that is leaving. The guy that is leaving is currently making 15% more than I was at my old position. Whoever takes this position will report directly to the CFO and has one person that directly reports to him. I have had some managerial experience in the past, but have never had a manager title or any direct reports, so this position would be a promotion. So far, the CFO and the direct report seem to be nice people that I get along with. The work is no where near as interesting as the job at the state agency.

The position that I have been offered is an entry level position with a state agency. The benefits are good and the work is interesting. I am the perfect candidate for this job. Too perfect essentially because they can’t pay me what I feel I am worth. 5 years ago, I would have jumped at it. The camaraderie there is top notch. Two of the people working there are people from my old agency two employers ago (not sure how great the camaraderie is right now with everyone working remotely though). Since they are a state agency, there is a chance that there won’t be any raises until the state budget bounces back from COVID. Aside from those annual raises that depend on the budget, the promotion track is no more than a 10% raise every 3 years. So I could be stuck at the lower pay until the start of 2024 in the worst case scenario.

This really is a “take the $5,000 or go for the new car behind one of the two doors” type Let’s Make A Deal decision. I am normally a “take the $5,000” guy, but I really don’t know when I’ll have a management opportunity like this again. It could be several years, and it I take the first job, it will probably be a decade if I decide to stay. Or, I could suck at this job after the guy training me leaves and they won’t hire me and I’ll have to just finish out the temp work, train a new person, and I’m back to unemployment. My wife will take months to forgive me if that happens.

What would you guys do?

I know I left a lot of stuff out of this, so feel free to ask for more detail if you think it pertains to the decision.

see post #16

You make it sound like there are 4 doors to choose from, with cars behind three of them. Am I correct that you are preferring to stick with what you’re doing and hope that it becomes permanent?

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The cars also have to be pretty bad to be less than $5000.

Sorry for the confusion. I only see it as two choices right now. Take the low paying job offer or stick with the higher paying temp job in hopes that they hire me permanently and pay me more than my old salary.

Yeah, I didnt phrase that clearly. You said “Choose $5k or try for the car behind 1 of 2 doors”. Take the sure $5k or the 50/50 odds of getting something better. That makes sense, the job offer in-hand is the $5k, verses hoping for the best

But the way you describe it, you make it seem like you think there’s much better than 50/50 odds with option #2 - or a game where most doors have a car behind them, and you’ll have to be unlucky to not get one.

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Yes. I do think my odds are better than 50/50. Good point. Not sure exactly what they are though.

Your thoughts on the decision?

Probably other factors – dependent family? Financial security? Etc.

I’ve never changed jobs yet but was starting to question my decision this year.


Wife stays home with two kids under elementary school age.

I think you sold sticking with the temp job and hoping it sticks.

Objectively, I dont think there’s a big difference between the pros and cons. It’s personal preference, which I know isnt helping you any - “interesting” work or a “better” job?


Sorry for being let go by your previous employer. As you’ve learned, now is not a great time to be job hunting. Congratulations on having a choice.

Presuming that you are late 20’s to mid- 30’s, I’d base my decision on the following few things:

If you love the work of the perm job, and are so-so on the work at the temp job, take the perm job. Enjoying what you do is worth 10% to me.

If you prefer govt work to private work, take the perm job, for the same reason as above. (You didn’t say, but I presume the temp job is private).

If you like to learn, like challenges, and are willing to give up some family/leisure time for potential financial gain, take the temp job.

If none of the above help, pick the closer one. Very few things beat a short commute. :smiley:

From the info provided, that’s about all I can think of, but there are a lot smarter people here who can add more.

Regardless of the choice, it should be a joint decision between you and your better half. If you can’t convince her of why you want one job, maybe reconsider if your decision is based on facts or hope. There’s nothing wrong with hope, but your partner isn’t going to steer you in a direction without good reason. This part ended up sounding harsher than I meant, but it’s late and my brain’s foggy. :upside_down_face:

Again, congrats on having a choice.


I was really thinking about the same.

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All great points, thanks for the reply

We weren’t on the same page 100% when I posted this, but we are now. I think this is the most important point which is why I put it first as part of my reply to you. I don’t think I could reject the job offer if my wife wasn’t on board.

I’d be learning on both jobs because I have never done the exact job at either employer. But the temp job will definitely have more challenges and more responsibility - good and bad - so I consider that a wash. As far as family/leisure time, the temp jobs is actually 35 hours a week and way more laid back - it’s private, but it’s a non-profit. The building literally closes at 5:00 PM and security will escort you out. During the audit, it may be more like 50 hours a week where I’d have to do some stuff at home, but that’s only a couple months out of the year.

I find I often start out “loving the work,” when I’m doing something interesting, but that usually fades after a year or two. I can see it fading a lot more quickly if I feel like I’m underpaid. One of the reasons I don’t want to take the offer is because I don’t want to look for a job anymore, yet I can see myself continuing to look if I’m making less than I feel I could get elsewhere.

I’m gonna miss my old commute which was one end of my suburb to the other. Both of these are suburb to city, but the temp job has a slightly less “downtown” parking situation. It’s actually across the street from an apartment I lived in 12 years ago, so I love the neighborhood. Both jobs require a paid parking spot, but the temp job is only $100/yr. I can’t imagine the more downtown one being cheaper.


Great advice from that goose.

Welcome back Honker. The ole site is still plugging along.

Again, if I were looking for a new job around these sites, Honkinggoose would be my “go to man”.
His ideas are so reasonable. :relaxed:

I agree with Honkinggoose’s comments – all very solid points. In addition, a few questions to ask yourself and think about:

  • Do you want/like to manage people? vs “Doing the work”
  • Are you looking to climb the ladder? If so, advancement opportunities?
  • Would working for a non-profit give you a better satisfaction/sense of accomplishment?
    ** If so, would the temp->perm job open up additional opportunities?
  • If the temp->perm falls through, how long can you go financially; enough for the next job/temp job?
  • Salary is not everything – compare the benefits. Which is better? A $100K job without benefits maybe worst than $90k job with benefits (401k with 5% matching is $4500, insurance (medical, dental, vision, etc.), HSA monies?, fringe benefits, etc.).
  • As a non-profit, where do they get their money and is it sustainable for the length you intend to stay or to last through the current world situation.

I like to tell this non sequitur story: :slight_smile:

I was laid off by AT&T (Web/IT/Engineering). I got offered a job with Veritas and tired to negotiate slight more money (5%?) and they flat out refused and when I said okay to the original offer, they said they changed their mind on hiring me. On the next job offer, it was almost 50% less than what I was making at A&T but it was a completely different industry (DOD contractor Integration & Test) but was pretty interesting. I did ask about a higher salary but they said based on their contract with the government the ‘salary grade’ didn’t leave room for negotiation. Partly from fear of having to continue the job search and partly I wanted to work. I can’t recall if paying the mortgage or finance situation at the time was even part of my active thought process – although, I probably had 6m-1y of salary as an emergency fund. Fast forward 4.5 years, two positions opened up in a short period of time, Systems Engineer and Project Engineer opened up within this small project (~30 people) and I was rejected for both – they brought in people with no knowledge of the system. Now, raises that I got in those 4.5 was at 1.5-3% each year, so I wasn’t making much more than when I started. I wasn’t looking for more money as I was actually very happy with the 99% of the folks on the project and thoroughly enjoy the job (I&T) and I already was doing more (Systems Engineering). I just wanted to expand my duties to more System Engineering since doing the same thing (I&T) for 4.5 does get old. I decided 2 rejection was a sign from the universe. I looked across the covered walkway with a competing company (600x larger DOD contractor) and was offered 95% of my old AT&T salary for the same job (I&T) with a different project that has tie-in with the current project. I tried to negotiate here too they also said no (I guess I’m bad at negotiating salaries) – Originally asked for more money and when they said no, I tried for more vacation time and that was a no as well. Although, the hiring manager did show me a salary chart and the position I was in; I was already at the high end. I didn’t have enough experience for them to put me in the bottom of the next tier. The offer was both good and bad; I got a good offer but salary increases will be slower… think bell curve salary increase within a band.

Non sequitur story 2: I meet my wife at the job after AT&T – she was with a subcontractor to the prime contractor on the same project. After 10 years with the company, her salary her salary slightly higher than mine, which if you recall, was almost 50% less than AT&T. About 3 years after I left, the contract ended and the government put the contract up for re-compete, a new company won. Normally the way it works when a new company (the prime) win, they are contractually required to retain n% of the old people for ‘project continuity’ by hiring them into their company and/or keep the previous company folks as subs to the prime. This time people that got re-hired got their salary slashed 1-5% but my wife was not one of them; they let her go. She was so pissed, scared, & stressed. I told her don’t worry about and that she should actually be happy because she wasn’t getting paid what she was worth. She got a job within a week for double her pay; doing similar software engineering that has ties to her old project as well as my project.


I passed on the state agency job offer on Tuesday and the non-profit offered me the job on Thursday. The non-profit offered me 18% more than the state to start with a 7.7% raise at the start of the new fiscal year 7/1/21. So short term, my risk paid off big time. I got my first management position and will be making more than the job I lost. Right place right time.

I think it will absolutely pay off in the long run too. This job will be much more of a numbers job while the state agency one was much more report writing. I am good at report writing and have more experience in it, but I am not great and I’m enjoying it less and less each year. I have always been good at the numbers, which is why I went into accounting in the first place, but I just haven’t worked many jobs where that was the main focus. I’m excited to actually be doing that now.

And if they want me to take over for my direct supervisor, the VP of Finance and Operations, when he retires in less than 5 years, that will be a huge opportunity and a huge raise.


Good choice! Hope it continues to work out well for you.

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That’s outstanding. It’s not very often that you’re awarded with an affirmation so quickly. Good luck and enjoy the ̶g̶i̶g̶ career.

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My first 3 weeks at the job as an official employee (did 3 weeks as a temp) were uneventful and there was nothing to make me think I made a mistake.

Then this week happens. My one direct report, with some really good institutional knowledge and a good work ethic and organizational skills, informs me that she has just accepted another job. Guess where - at the company where my predecessor went. He had someone quit on him, called her up, offered her the job at more than she was making (since he knew her salary), and poof, she’s gone. I knew as a first time manager, I’d have to deal with this situation at some point. I was just hoping it would be a year or so down the road, or at least after learning the ropes, and not less than a month in.

Unbelievably, after this happened Monday, I was able to get a temp in for a full day Wednesday. With the holidays, that would give us 5 days of the temp shadowing her, which is much better than nothing. And, the temp actually turned out to be pretty good. So I was able to enjoy Christmas with the family. Thankfully, I haven’t set up my work email on my phone yet. So I go to check it tonight (Friday night), and who emailed me? The temp agency. My temp got a permanent job offer and isn’t coming in Monday.

Even though they aren’t exactly head coach material, the CFO and CEO have stopped by to check on me and give me a couple crappy “you’ll get through this” pep talks. The quality of the pep talk doesn’t bother me. I’m just glad they recognize how challenging this situation will be for the organization and that it won’t be my fault. Unless we get lucky with another temp or get some good applications in quickly, my department is going to be doing the bare minimum, possibly behind schedule, for some time.


Before the sarcasm, thank you for following up, and sharing your experience. Let the fun begin…

Welcome to management! :roll_eyes:

Sorry for such a nut punch in your early going, but trial by fire can successfully toughen you to handle much more difficult situations. I know - that’s not beneficial at the moment. However, from the limited info available, I’d bet this is the toughest situation you will face for the next couple of years. So, struggle through this, and you’ve got a couple of dozen easier months to learn all you want about this business (okay, non-profit), management, and the future. You will then be in a great position to decide if moving up or moving out is where it’s at.

Here are a few links, that, if not helpful, will hopefully give you a brief smile. I have no idea if they’re good, but I liked their titles …

To prevent a recurrence

If it recurs anyway

If all else fails

I hope you’re having a great Christmas and didn’t lose any hair putting together trains, swingsets, etc.