A Tale of Two Jobs

Well, not an actual tale, exactly, but some general anecdotes.

Since moving “oop north” (to Leeds, West Yorkshire, UK), my partner and I have job-hunted once each. Once for me when I relocated up here, and once for him just at the moment as the fixed-term contract that brought him here in the first place has ended. In both instances, we’ve ended up with two good offers and no real way of choosing between them.

The trouble with jobs is that you can never really know how they will turn out until you’ve been there six months. This isn’t an option when you have 24 hours to make a decision that will affect your day-to-day life for the next two years or so, so how can you pick?

Criteria for choosing

This can be straightforward. If you have large credit card or mortgage payments to keep up with, or an expensive habit like an extreme sport, then probably you want the one with the biggest paycheck. If one job is a step on the ladder or uses skills for a job you want to do one day, then take it, even if its less money. If one job is an hour-long commute and the other is a walk across the park, question yourself whether any benefit from the further one can outweight the sense of self you will lose from that kind of journey. If the recruiter annoys you enough then you might allow that to help you decide (I have turned down interviews before purely because I couldn’t face talking to the recruiter again!). If one company is straight with you and calls when they say they will, then that will probably give you a good feeling that you mean what you say the rest of the time. If you just have a good feeling about one job, environment or set of people, then follow your instinct – in this case that is your best indicator.

Once you’ve made your choice, train your brain to stop wondering “what if”? Even if the job you chose doesn’t work out the way you wanted, you get there and the people who were so friendly when you were shown round seem to have had their personalities surgically removed, or the training and development policies have been allowed to mysteriously evaporate, you must never wonder what might have been. For down that path leads despair.

Difficult choices

Personally, I couldn’t really tell you why I chose the way I did this time around. The two jobs used different subsets of my skill set and neither had any obvious progression with them although both would be great stepping stones for when I grow up and decide what I want to be. I can give lots of pros and cons for either choice. Wake up in the morning, and see what you feel, then act on it immediately. After six months in this job, its working out OK, and who’s to say what would have happened if I’d chosen differently? It is our instinct to think that we might be missing out, that the grass is greener elsewhere, that’s what makes us take risks and move on to the next place at all!

I spoke to a guy in a bar last night who told me that when he left university, he’d had two job offers – one for a web company and one for a games company. The web company offered more money and he took that job, but he’s always wondered what it would have been like to make games for a living. My advice: just don’t wonder! [1]

1 Actually I told him he had made the right choice, I did work in games for a while and although it was fun, it is hard work and totally different to the “normal” software industry, I’m glad I did it but I’m also glad I’m doing something else now.

One thought on “A Tale of Two Jobs

  1. Well, three years ago I refused a good job opportunity just because the company was SO MUCH enthusiast of the idea of working with me that ... actually they scared me.

    Now I'm constantly wondering ‘what if..' but that opportunity is lost.

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