Education

Employee wins job back, but does he still want it?

Today marks the debut of "What should I do?" a regular feature of the Career Management blog in which we run career and workplace scenarios provided by TechRepublic members and open them up for comment.

Today marks the debut of "What should I do?" a regular feature of the Career Management blog in which we run career and workplace scenarios provided by TechRepublic members and open them up for comment.

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The blog today concerns a scenario sent in by a TechRepublic member who is at a career crossroads and could use some advice.  Here's his story:

"I was a State Employee for 15 years before they let me go. I was working as a full-time employee for one agency and took on a 6 month contract position with another. Since I was a state employee, I was not allowed to benefit financially from contractual work, so I took on this project 'at cost'... more or less for the experience. Well, others didn't care about 'no profit... no gain' and still felt this was a conflict of interest. It took a little over a year to appeal their decision. Meanwhile, I broke into the Consulting business full-time and am making more than I was as a state employee.

Now, 18 months later, the results of the appeal are in... The State board believes that I shouldn't have taken on the side project... but feels the punishment was way too severe, especially with 15 years of exemplary service. They are allowing me to return to state employment in the same capacity as I left, but with no back pay.

Now my dilemma... I have a growing family. Do I go back as a state employee and take a cut in my current pay but enjoy health and retirement benefits that I do not have as a consultant, or do I take advantage of the significant amount of money that I am earning as a consultant and move on without worry about living from paycheck to paycheck?"

This is definitely a tough call, with several factors at play. One, he has "won" a hard-fought legal issue, and it would seem wasteful to then just turn around and say, "Never mind." Two, the situation forced him to find greener pastures, and why should he give them up now? Three, with a growing family, it's hard to resist the siren song of company-paid health benefits. So, what is your recommendation: stay or go?

Got a career scenario of your own? E-mail it to us here. We'll post it anonymously, and see what kind of feedback your peers have to offer.

About

Toni Bowers is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and is the award-winning blogger of the Career Management blog. She has edited newsletters, books, and web sites pertaining to software, IT career, and IT management issues.

15 comments
rcsteinbach
rcsteinbach

IMHO, if he feels he must take the job, due to the realities of his current situation, then I suggest: - Take the job. - Form an exit strategy that pushes you to a better situation - Work on your exit strategy while employed - Leave with better experience and contacts to make up for the difference in benefits The plus of taking the job back is that it will prove his "trustworthiness" to future firms. The minus of accept the job back is that you will feel that you are not welcome and you will be made an easy scapegoat for management's shortcomings. Basically, accepting the position should mean nothing more than buying time to improve your career, not as a permanent position.

fullmidnight
fullmidnight

I've just registered a few minutes ago, and I saw this post. I will write this in a hurry, so please ignore my grammar errors. I would like to say from the beginning that: - I don't have a family yet (I am 25 years old) - I do have worked 9 months for the state (I'm not from US) - I quit my job because my goals did not match with what I was doing for the state - I was happy with my new job in the private sector: a very big challenge (I do *like* and feel empowered to "move mountains"), good benefits, much better management (this counts as a lot for me; no good management = your work is close to worthless; I've learned that from my first months) - Still, my ambition keeps demanding for more, and after 2.5 years, I've changed the job again, for an even more challenging job :) - Even so, I do have to say that I am touching the unseen and I'm considering having my own startup company, especially because I am determined enough to work for it, along with having the skills and "guru type" friends who will push at least the same as I would. Sure, taking risks at my age when I don't have not even one loan (this gives me a little more independent feeling, by the way :) is much easier than in your case. But when that startup will be started, I will need one year to say whether it will work or not. In that year, my girlfriend will help me (financially, too), as we've helped each other before, so things will be much easier to take : ) I would approach a decision like yours based on how much drive and determination to you *have* to go on with your consulting. Being in that consulting role for a year or so should make you *stronger*, not weaker. And don't forget that you can always try to find a "co-founder" to help you both technically and also it will be much easier to take it emotionally. And regarding retirement stuff: my father worked as an retirement agent, so I know the details of this (at least in my country, in UE). My point against th retirement stuff is this: Why should I give my money to this retirement agency, since after years of contributing to it, it doesn't even cover the inflation rate? How is this different than having the money in a savings account? :) And one more thing before I'll shut up: think now about the moment when you've started the consulting job :) I am sure that then you didn't thought as much as now to the retirement benefits.. Take the challenge up-front. You basically went upper by being a consultant. It's harder to go up than down. From a consultant role you can find enough regular jobs (even with the scary outsourcing tactics used by some). Plus, in the event of going to a regular job, you know as I do that from an employer perspective you are better perceived in the first place than someone who stayed in a regular job for years. Don't you think so? :) Be confident! .. as confident as a Spartan in a battle! :) Cheers and I hope we will hear from you soon :-) Marius.

wanttocancel
wanttocancel

Getting private insurance is a crap shoot and I know because I use to work in the health insurance field. If his family has any type of medical issues, the entire family could be barred for getting an individual policy. Plus, individual insurance is really expensive. For the children I would take the state job, see if I could get individual insurance and if I could possibly think about going into consulting.

miarond
miarond

I'm a new employee in the IT field and I'm facing the same kind of questions. I've got an Associate Degree in computer network administration but I'm working as an AIX System Operator. Not the kind of work I see myself doing in 5 years. I'd like to move to another, larger city in my state and my company has a branch there. I see the need for a Junior Network Admin at that location but I haven't heard any rumors about a job opening up. I've also got a possible job offer at the County IT department that I interned at during my time in college. So, long story short, I don't know how to go about seeking a new opportunity in this company. Who would I ask and how would I ask them? I have a family to support as well and I certainly don't want to lose my job. My advice for this member is similar to what others have already said. If I were in his place, I guess I would carefully weigh both sides and base my decision on facts, not feelings. I agree that it's a tough choice but I know that sometimes you have to take a leap of faith. No matter how it works out (for either of us) we all seem to find a way to survive.

jbarta
jbarta

Look - the consulting opportunity does provide for some short term benefits - such as higher compensation. But the entire comp package is really what you need to consider. If the benefits are key - and with a family that is certainly a consideration - then take the state job. Consulting opportunities can dry up quickly - would you really like to worry about the stability it has on your family? If you really can't stand the state job when you get back - then find something that pays you more - but use the opportunity to look while you have the benefits so that you're not FORCED into taking something you're going to hate.

beyerb1
beyerb1

If you have 15 years in with the state can you opt for early retirement with benefits at 20 years? If so you might want to go back, stick it out for 5 years, retire and then go back to consulting (this assumes you can keep your skills up and perhaps do some consulting while working with the state. It will be a lot of work but you end up with the best of both worlds.

clearmiddle
clearmiddle

I don't really want to try to give advice. I worked for a number of years at state jobs before going into private industry, and I am considering returning after 25 years away. It's a hard decision. In addition to the medical coverage and the retirement benefits, state jobs, which tend to pay less than industry--they sure do around here--may be less demanding and allow more time with the family. Some of my collegues in industry are working ridiculous hours right now with no overtime, to keep their jobs. On the other hand, earning less by working for the state in your prime earning years may be a problem later on, and it's not necessarily the best reference if you eventually decide to move on. I can't say what is best--it depends.

cyberdragon666
cyberdragon666

You won, you proved a point. That's great! BUT if your consulting business is stable and growing, I think you should stay with it. It's hard to break into consulting and be successful. You made it. I say stick with it. Screw the state. They'll just do something else down the road. We are talking about the gub-ment...

fmaurissin
fmaurissin

Being a parent and having a growing family makes people think differently from people in a different situation. Living from paycheck to paycheck is a very dangerous place to be for any parents. It would be a very smart choice to go for the health and the retierement benefits.

devin.rambo
devin.rambo

A lot of it depends on how big a pay cut you'd be taking, the tax implications of either choice, etc. If you add everything up and come out ahead by working for yourself (which means providing your own benefits, retirement, etc.), you may want to do that. My advice would be to sit down with a financial planner, lay it all out, weigh the pros and cons, and come up with a decision informed by input from someone who professionally helps people make decisions affecting their finances.

justin.ellenbecker
justin.ellenbecker

I would stick with the consulting if it pays enough to get private insurance. If not I would go back to the state but try to get more out of them. No back pay or anytime of offer from them makes it kinda hard. No one wants to go somewhere that makes you feel unappreciated. Stick with the consulting and put a little away each month into a separate savings account to use as your own "insurance fund". Just because you won doesn't mean if you don't go back it was wasted, you set an example and without back pay or any type of benefit for the win you had no other choice but to move on. Respectfully decline the position but leave them a card and let them know if they ever need a good consultant they can reach you.

bettonirm
bettonirm

I too am a consultant. I am well paid for my time but I have a family. In my case, I am retired from the U.S. Military so I have health benifits and get retirment pay. Not enought to live on, but it pays for my house. There is no question that I would stay with the consulting, however he has to think about his family also. This is a hard decision I know. On the one hand he is making great money and no benifits on the other hand good benifits and less money. What it has to come down to is where do you want to be in 5 or 10 years. Would you rather spend that time as a consultant or as a public servant. You have to concider your job happiness also. If it were me I would look for some type of insurance to protect my family and see if the money paid for the insurance still leaves me more then the state job. If you can get the insurance and some type of retirement benifits and still be better off then the state job then I would go with the consulting. But you also have to realize consulting may not be a paycheck every week. At some point there may be periods of no pay. That will not happen with the state job unless your elected represenatatives are late on the state budget. It happens more often then most people think.

pwoodctfl
pwoodctfl

Ok. Let's make this simpler... Is the cash that you are earning, less the things that you will have to be paying for yourself, like life insurance, pension, etc. greater than the amount of state salary. Can you make it on the state salary without the side work that caused this problem in the first place? If you are making more as a state employee and can get by without the side work, then go back. If not, keep working as a contractor.

maggie_t
maggie_t

No matter what amount of money or benefits, there is no way I would want to work where I was not wanted unless I really needed the job and had no alternatives. You need to work out the answers to these questions: Would the current management hold a grudge for this whole situation or would you be welcomed back with open arms? Would you have the same job or something matching your current experience level or would there be some downgrade in your job responsibilies or addition of work that does not enhance your skillset or moral? Did you have rivals who have benefited by your absence and fear your return? There's a saying 'you can't go home again' could it apply in this case? Can you trust the powers that be?

asentell
asentell

These are the questions I feel would be most important to ask. If he's not absolutely sure he's going to be welcome back with open arms then I'd be very hesitant to return to the State job. Sure, he'd have security for his family either way, but who would want to work in an unwelcoming environment everyday? Not me! That being said, might he be able to give the State job a try for a while and if he didn't like it resume his current business as a fallback measure?

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