Originally Published: Wednesday, 4 July 2001 Author: Mark Miller
Published to: interact_articles_jobs_skills/Linux Job Skills Page: 1/1 - [Printable]

Zen and the Art of Job Hunting: Sometimes You Have to Walk Away

This fourth of July take a moment to let go of your worries about the economy and your future and take a look at what's important in your life. Let Linux.com Jobs writer Mark Miller be your guide.

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Recently I had the good fortune to have not one but two job opportunities that I would have loved to do. One was exactly the kind of job I have always wanted to do, and the other would have allowed me to live in the location I most love. Unfortunately, I had to walk away from them both. I know; am I nuts? Let me explain.

I already have a job

All of the job-hunting books say that the best way to hunt for a job is when you already have one. For one thing, you aren't desperate to eat. Staying power is important. Both of these perfect jobs have taken some time to come around. Both were for large corporations and we all know that any large organization is slow to move. It took weeks just to schedule an interview in one and just as long for the other to determine if they could obtain the contract that I would have been working under. Had I needed to eat I wouldn't have been able to wait for them.

Having a job can work against you as well. First of all I make good money, really good money. I get a good amount of overtime even in a "normal" week. When times are good I get so much overtime that it causes me tax troubles. Of course, this also means that pretty much any job I wish to move to would mean a fair pay cut. Heck even if they matched my base pay I'd still be taking a cut due to the overtime. My perks are very good as well so the bar is raised there too. Beyond that the company has a good attitude and my coworkers are sharp and easy to get along with. All of this makes the best alternative hard to swallow.

Other Considerations

No one lives in a vacuum. I have lots of obligations. My oldest son has moved back home to attend school. My youngest son has education and medical needs that are hard to transfer easily. After 20+ years of Navy life my wife is sick of moving and isn't interested in doing it for light reasons. I have to accommodate the needs of all of my "constituents". We all have outside obligations to consider no matter how young or old we are. Some obligations are contractual like no-compete agreements and paybacks for allowances like relocation costs and pay advances. In my case I had just completed the payback period for relocation and the opportunities didn't compete with my present employer.

So why not?

It comes down to knowing what I want in life. In an earlier article here at Linux.com I mentioned how a person needs to think ahead about just what they wanted from their career. The intent was to know what is important to you before you need to make the decision. Good thing I took my own advice.

I'm a child of the Sixties. While I was too young to participate directly I was aware enough to have absorbed many of the values of the time. One of these values is a deep-seated sense that money isn't everything for me. Don't get me wrong, I'll take all that you want to throw at me (I grew up during the Me Generation too) but it isn't the be-all and end-all of my life. Before all of you sharp logical programmer types note that this actually weakens my argument about staying, be patient, it will come together soon. Things other than money have a larger place in my value system than they may yours but that is one of the things I hope you'll think about before you face a situation like mine. Anyway, the needs of my son and the deep aversion to moving right now that my wife has (even to the place she loves more than any other) had a large influence on my final decision.

"But I'm doing this for others, won't that create resentment?" you might ask. Sure. Lets explore my motivations a bit. While both of these potential jobs held the possibility of fulfilling some of my life objectives better than my present position, they didn't really meet enough of them to make a difference. I'm not all that thrilled about working for a large company. Perhaps it's another hangover from a Sixties anti-conglomerate feeling but it seems to me that I am mostly an interchangeable little cog in the very large machine when working for a large company. The highest person in the company that actually knows me is himself a completely unknown drone to anyone who has any visibility at the top. Laying me off won't keep any of them awake at night. So in that respect the job prospects won't improve my position any. While one position would have gotten me living in paradise it would have been at best a short-term thing. Government contracts have a tendency to disappear at short notice and then I'd be living in a place with little chance of work to replace it. That would cause yet another move and we all know how bad an idea that is by now. OK, then there is the job I'd always dreamed of. A chance to work on the coolest technology in the world, be a trainer to boot and create insanely great instructional materials using state of the art systems is a chance to kill for. Unfortunately the location would have been far less than ideal and less appealing than the location I'm in at the moment. If I had moved there from Los Angeles it would have been an improvement but from here it is a step down. (Before you blast me about LA know that I grew up there and lets not follow that path!) Ok, that's three strikes for both of them. Beyond that I have a desire to create a company of my own and move into the circle of influence at work. It is apparent to me that no employer is going to put my years of supervisory experience to use anytime soon.

Capping things off

Ok, so I'm not going to avail myself of these opportunities. One I already had an interview scheduled for. That position was one that I knew the manager who was doing the hiring from my Navy days. I had already talked to him by phone several times and was creating a Powerpoint presentation (hey, it's what they wanted) for the interview. I needed to break this off without offending someone I knew or burning bridges with someone I just might need to work for down the road. I attempted to contact the manager by phone to explain my decision but couldn't get through. I was forced to leave a phone message. Not what I wanted but at least it let him know. My only consolation was that I knew that he had several other candidates for the position (at least I hope that they could hang on as I had been able to do). The second position was one that was offered to me by my best friend. We had already discussed what I would have to do to take the position and he knew my position well. I finally had to make it official and being the great friend he is he understands. Working for a friend or family can be tricky so you may want to think about how you feel about this before it comes up for you. I hadn't so I was very careful to not jeopardize my relationship with him and his family.

Letting go of these opportunities wasn't the clinical exercise you see here. There was some real agonizing about the decisions I needed to make. The pain came even though I had thought through many issues before hand. I think that I've made that best decisions for me. Only time will tell. The good thing about all of this has been a real world test for me personally of all the things I've been advocating in my articles. Good thing I've thought about this....

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