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.


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.