Monday, December 10, 2012

Late Night Listening XLII: Take Five (Years)

The title for this post is inspired by Dave Brubeck, whose passing last week gave jazz lovers reason to pause and reflect the richness of his life's work.  It's probably cliche to express a fondness of "Take Five", but I especially love this recording, which sets the tune to lyrics.

If you click around the 2007-era post archives on this blog, you'll turn up a lot of agonizing about a lengthy and stressful job search, which wrapped up at the end of that year.

The year 2012 has seen a similar search, playing itself out over the course of a year, but not the national scale.  Almost all of my job prospects have been local to the Circle City, with the few national ones being those which had telecommute options.

The motivation for moving on started out as a growing dissatisfaction with the job, as the product veep started to grate on my nerves more and more.  But as the year drew near to an end, it became more and more apparent that the company's future was becoming ever so more cloudy.
At this late hour, I have my eighth job offer of the year on the table.  I also had my share of rejections (five to be exact).  Most of them stemmed from lack of familiarity with a particular language or technology and an unwillingness to take a chance on me assaulting the learning curve.

The present offer was extended formally to me this past Thursday evening, with a request that I make a decision by this Tuesday, and I have been at levels of anxiety that I haven't experienced for some time.  I've bought some time by sending a list of clarifying questions to the hiring manager, and he as responded by asking me to come up to the office for another visit.

All and all, unless I see some serious red flags during my visit, I will accept the offer, but I want to make sure I don't hate myself in the process.

So where did the other seven offers come from.  I'll itemize:
  1. Subscription-Based Online Business Reputation Listing of Angela -- originally applied for engineering position for search; offered me lesser development role involving more generic website development; offer extended in Feb.; increased pay by 2 %.
  2. Big Pharma Marketing Collateral Warehouse Fulfillment -- suggested by local recruiter; would have involved Java MVC framework development with dysfunctional source code tree and hosting on a mainframe; offer extended in Feb.; increased pay by 2 %
  3. Education Employment Screening System -- applied for senior engineering role; somewhat shaky operation with production servers hosted in their building's basement and strange Java/SQL Server architecture; offer extended in Feb.; decreased pay by 5.3 %
  4. Local For-Profit Professional and Trade School -- suggested by recruiter; school spent $2 M on outsourced development in China for custom built social network; brought in-house in desperate need of scalability; offer extended in late June; maintained same pay
  5. Bean Crock 24-Hour Restaurants --  suggested by recruiter; restaurant chain needed a senior level developer to come in and bring code base and build process under control; turned down job before they could give me a salary
  6. Consulting Firm for Big New England Insurance Co. -- suggested by recruiter; would have been contracted to contractor; enterprisey development team built newfangled insurance quoting site without good knowledge of JavaScript; needed JavaScript debugger; offer extended in late Oct.; 16-percent annual increase in pay
  7. Red Diamond that Does "Great Things" Seed and Pesticides -- suggested by recruiter; would have been a 6-month contract to help a biostatistician build a web interface around some statistical analysis code that would help them make decisions on where to funnel R&D dollars; offer extended in early Nov.; 6 percent annual increase in pay
  8. Biggest Public Post-Secondary School in the State -- responded to ad; surprisingly progressive IT team looking to bring mature and effective development and operations people maintain legacy apps of ill repute and develop new apps using open source technology stack; 6 percent decrease in pay but awesome health insurance, retirement savings plan, and vacation time policy
Yep.   That's right.  Tons of effort to find a job only to wind up taking the one with the biggest pay cut.  That's the biggest part of my ambivalence towards accepting the offer.  In the long run, the benefits may turn out to be a better deal, but giving up $500 gross per month is a tough one to digest.

Of secondary concern is that the job would require the return to a car-based commute.  With my current job, I've been riding the bus into work for the most part.  The only days I've driven have been situations where I needed to be somewhere, and taking the bus to get there would have been impractical or would have required me leaving too early since the service is hourly.

I won't be driving as far as I was driving for my job that I held from 2005 - 2007 (19 miles versus 25), but it will be to the northeast side of the metro area, passing through two or three traffic choke points.  That means more stress from the drive, more costs on fuel, and the possibility that I'll finally have to ditch my 2000 Saturn L Series which has like 168,000+ miles on it.

Finally, I will most likely be giving up my flexibility in hours.  One of the things that has kept me tied to my current job for so long is the fact that I do have the ability to shift my hours as long as I am getting stuff done.  That means that I can take off work at 3 pm on Wednesdays to pick up my kids from the bus after school and take them to their piano lessons, if I have to.

On the bright side, even if this is an academic institution, their leadership seems to be heading in a more forward-thinking direction, and I will continue to work on an open source technology stack and get a crack at doing some bleeding edge technology stuff as well.

Moreover, of all the potential employers, this is the only one where I didn't feel like I would need to take a shower at the end of the day because I felt like I was doing something either shady or evil.  Since this is a vocational and technical school, my work would be helping people get an education that would open new doors, rather than shifting wealth towards the already wealthy.

I can probably  make it through the pay cut.  It will require eating in more and being more stringent about not saying "Yes" to every expenditure that X asks for.  There is a chance I could also supplement some of that lost income through freelance work, but that would be new territory and I don't know if I have a deep enough rolodex.
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