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Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Should I Accept a Job I Don't Want?

Dear Evil HR Lady,

Do I stand any chance working a different job than the one I was offered and accepted? I interviewed for a position at a prestigious financial firm in a dream location with great people and did exceptionally well. I’m expecting an offer soon.

The bad news? The position is a software engineering role. And I hate software engineering. Hence my dilemma. Unfortunately, I’m a good programmer and it’s what I’ve been doing for 10 years. It’s not that hard for me to get offers. The problem is I’m burnt out: I can no longer stand doing the coding part of the job anymore. I desperately need more people-oriented work, for my own sanity. But I don’t have the financial luxury of taking the time to go to business school.

This firm is small, but growing quickly. There will be many new positions soon. Once employed, do you see any chance of working my way into one of these positions sooner rather than years down the road? I feel like I could only stand programming again for 6 months at most. What I’d like to do is somehow work my way into a different division that can still make use of my technical skills, such as business analysis, operations, sales, etc.

If I make myself well-liked and indispensable in the original role, would it be crazy to inquire, subtly, about a new (but related) role as soon as possible? I believe I could make my case if they were receptive to it. But if I let the cat out of the bag that I’m not satisfied with my current role, are they going to be disappointed and fire me? I feel like I may never come across such a great company any time soon.


Should I Accept a Job I Don't Want?

8 comments:

Kat said...

sounds like a great work culture, and I imagine they would encourage promoting from within. Could the OP approach the subject in terms of progression planning? If he's willing to tolerate the actual job for 6 months, then request to review his career planning in that time frame. Then spend those 6 months demostrating those strengths that are needed to move into another position.

Henning Makholm said...

6 months? Will that even be enough to get up to speed with the company's codebase? Perhaps, if they're doing smallish unconnected projects. But most likely not.

Charles said...

Great general advice; but, here's what I heard when reading the OP:

"I'm in IT and want to move to a people-contact financial position; but don't have the education/background to do so. Will this be a foot in the door to let me switch to something else?" (sorry for the paraphrasing in quotes; but I hope you all get what I mean)

The answer to that is no. If you do not have the financial education/background why on earth would they move you to such a position? If a customer is coming to any financial firm to seek advice do you think they really want a "software engineer" to be telling them how to invest their money, analyze their business, or to help run their financial operations?

The OP will be lucky, very lucky, if this were to happen; and if it does happen then I would not call that firm "prestigious."

Prestige is built upon reputation, which includes hiring folks with the right credentials for the right job. Without that financial education I don't think I would bet on this happening.

Would you expect the firm to hire someone with a financial background (but no computer science background) to write code for them? It sounds like the same thing that you are expecting this firm to do for you.

Also, being burnt out will show through even if you change organizations. This will not be helpful at all.

I would recommend staying where you are, get started (in the very least) on the right education and then look to move to an organization that will consider someone with your excellent technical background who is looking to make a "switch to something else."

I would also try to not think of it as "switching" to another job; but, rather look (and sell it prospective employers) as "expanding" on your current skills. This way you and they will know what both parties are getting.

Anonymous said...

@ Charles. I think the op said that he doesn't have the financial luxury of taking the time to go to business school - and that he's hoping to use his technical skills in other relevant areas such as analysis, operations, sales, etc.

My 2 cents worth would be to go for it. Do your core job really, really well and look for opportunities to add value to other parts of the business or get involved in project work. Smart organisations are always looking for ways in increase efficiencies without reducing quality, or increase quality without increasing costs. Understand what's going on in other areas of the business, what challenges they're facing and how you can contribute to improving or resolving them.

People love working with people who go the extra mile and use their initiative. Just don't let your 'day job' suffer.

mnshr said...

Hi,
In my opinion the person should try to look into the business aspects of the programming work u do.

software tools implement the various processes with in and org. Try to get the bigger pic of why the tools and what improvements in processes can be done.
Talk to more ppl within the org and lead your software engg towards improving the tools and processes.
Don't move to financial domain with a 10 yr background in SE

Anonymous said...

As you’re still expecting an offer, once you get it and before making any decision, you should talk to your hiring manager about your thoughts candidly. Tell her you can do the programming job, but you also care about your personal development, is it possible that company can have some internal promotion that to reach your own goal, you can take this job as your own development opportunity as well.

Anonymous said...

As you’re still expecting an offer, once you get it and before making any decision, you should talk to your hiring manager about your thoughts candidly. Tell her you can do the programming job, but you also care about your personal development, is it possible that company can have some internal promotion that to reach your own goal, you can take this job as your own development opportunity as well.

Anonymous said...

The choice here is obviously yours. However, your situation is not as appalling as you are painting it. The organization is prestigious, the pay is good and the environment is apt, what seems to remain is you, fitting yourself appropriately to the job specification. That is exactly what you must learn to do.
You are also lucky to have the opportunity of mobility within the organisation; therefore, the decision to take the job or dispense with it and look for ‘better’ opportunity is absolutely yours. Why did you apply in the first instance to a job you do not want?
Unless you have more juicy opportunity, it is advisable that you take the job and prove your mettle enough for you to be considered for higher job.