How long must you stay in a job these days?

March 31, 2010 at 11:27 am Leave a comment

Sometimes the universe seems unkind: Just a few months after landing a job following a tough hunt, an email correspondent receives an offer for the position he really wanted! But he was just settling in to the job he had accepted — which pays a lot less and isn’t nearly as interesting to him as the job he’s just been offered. What to do?

In the past most career experts would strongly advise against accepting this latest offer, saying it would be career suicide (especially if you had moved around much earlier in your career — see Jan. 4 post, “Should you worry about job jumping?”) as future employers would wonder if you were stable. Yet these days, especially if you’ve taken a pay cut or are working in a job much below your skill or experience level, you might want to consider the new offer. Owing to the tough economic times of the past few years and the huge changes to many professions (including journalism), experts now say that if you find the right job for you, much may be forgiven.

Here are some things to think about when considering whether to leave a job after a short period:

*Determine if you would be burning the proverbial bridge, and just how important that bridge may be to your future career. If, for instance, you took a job on a temporary basis or it was clear it would be probationary for both parties, it’s a lot easier to leave that job after just a few months for another offer. But if your employer went out of their way to get you into this job (especially if they tailored a position to your skills or passed up others to give you a chance) you might think hard about whether this other offer is really worth the ill will you most likely would be buying with your current organization. Washington in some ways is still a pretty small town, especially in journalism circles, and the harm to your career may go well beyond a short-timer stint on your resume; it may not be worth the damage. And this is something for job seekers to think about as well: In taking a job that is below your pay expectations or experience level, you may be better off trying to craft a temporary arrangement, especially if you think you may still be a strong candidate for another job that just hasn’t come through yet.

*Ensure that the other offer is definite and is as good as it seems. A prospective employer may be trying to gauge your enthusiasm level and may still be playing you off other candidates, so do your research carefully. If you are seriously considering the offer, negotiate well and get the best deal you can. Only then — if you determine it’s real and you really want it — should you go back to your current employer and discuss it. Be honest about what occurred and underscore that you took this job in good faith and you appreciate their taking a chance on you when you needed a job. If you have done a good job even in a short period, they may find some ways to enhance your responsibilities or increase your pay level to match the other offer. Or they may ask you to leave right away — be prepared for that.

*Think about where this leads on your future career path. Perhaps the job you’re in is a detour — you took it because you needed it — and the job you’re being offered is more in keeping with where you want to go; career experts say that is a good reason to leave a job after a short time. But if it’s just about money or status, or worse yet, it just “seems” better (beware the “grass is always greener” syndrome) be careful. You will need to explain this move in the future — even if you leave a short-time job off your resume, that creates a gap for which you’ll have to account — so if you leave a job relatively quickly, make sure it’s for the right reasons. It’s true that in this environment (especially when someone has been laid off or taken a buyout) a lot is forgiven, yet you’ll still need a good explanation.

*Here are a couple of upcoming events to note on your calendar:

*Northwestern University’s Alumni Association is sponsoring another low-cost “Webinar” that could be of interest to job hunters — this time on LinkedIn basics — on April 16. Details and sign-up information follow:

Networking on the Internet:
LinkedIn Basics Webinar

Have you heard about online networking, but aren’t sure where to begin?  Do you wonder how you can connect with your clients and colleagues on the Internet?

Back by popular demand, this webinar provides you with the essentials on how to get started on, the premier professional networking site.

Featured speaker David J.P. Fisher (WCAS98), President of RockStar Consulting and author of Step by Step Networking, will show you how to use the networking skills you already have and translate them onto the Internet.

This course focuses on:
– Why online networking is so powerful
– How to create a useful profile that calls out your unique accomplishments
– How to make connections and get recommendations
– How to get involved with LinkedIn groups

This course is for those who are unfamiliar with or who have created an account but want more information on profiles and basic functions.

Click here to listen to a clip of a past LinkedIn Basics webinar.

Choose from one of two sessions:

Friday, April 16, 2010
11:00am- 12:30pm Central Time –
Register Here

Friday, April 16, 2010
2:00pm – 3:30pm Central Time –
Register Here

Unavailable to view the live webinar? Register here to receive a full webinar recording.  The recording link will be sent 1-3 business days after the webinar.

All registrants for the live webinars will receive a link to the recording 1-3 business days after the webinar.

$15 for alumni and friends
$5 for current Northwestern students

Webinar Information
A webinar is an online event requiring a computer, Internet access and functional speakers or headphones.  The audio is not available via phone, so no phone access is needed.

Space for the live webinars is limited!

Questions? Contact or 847-491-5648.

If you need to cancel your webinar registration, the deadline to cancel and receive a full refund is Monday, April 12.

*Several journalism groups are sponsoring a fun event at the National Press Club in D.C. on Thursday April 8  that is also a great way to network with other journalists:

Event: Commedia dell Media (April 8)
When: April 8, 2010
Where: National Press Club ballroom, 529 14th Street NW, Washington, DC 20045

Forget Pulitzer, Polk, and Peabody. This year’s most highly sought media title will be awarded April 8 at the National Press Club. Tickets are going fast for Commedia dell Media, the charitable spectacle of hilarity that will determine “DC’s Funniest Journalist.”

Veteran newsman and one-time “Washington’s Funniest Celebrity” Matt Cooper will moderate the fierce battle featuring Melissa Bell (Washington Post), Jamila Bey (NPR/WAMU), Nancy Youssef (McClatchy), Rich Edson (FOX Business Network), Jamie McIntyre (, and Walter Shapiro (Politics Daily). Survivors of the inaugural Commedia dell Media, David Corn (Mother Jones), Mark Hosenball (Newsweek), Mike Walters (independent filmmaker) and Shaun Waterman (Washington Times), will sit in snarky judgment of this year’s amateurs. The show will open and close with special performances by professional comedian Doug Hecox, the “Writer of Wrongs,” and renowned impressionist Sylvia Traymore Morrison, appear as Michelle Obama.

All proceeds from Commedia dell Media will benefit three great media causes: The Committee to Protect Journalists/Journalist Assistance Fund, The Eric Friedheim National Journalism Library, and Reporters Without Borders. The CPJ Journalist Assistance Fund saves journalists who must go into hiding or exile to escape threats and helps those in need of medicine or material support in prison. National Press Club’s Eric Friedheim National Journalism Library helps hone skills of current and future newsgatherers with an array of training programs and scholarships. Reporters Without Borders is the international non-profit organization dedicated to protecting journalists’ rights, fighting censorship, and promoting freedom of expression.

Tickets on sale now at

*And now for some job leads….Remember, I list these not only for their individual value but to give job hunters a sense of what organizations are hiring and for what kinds of jobs!

*The Wilderness Society in D.C. is looking for a vice president of communications and marketing:

Vice President of Communications amp; Marketing
The Wilderness Society – Washington, DC
creative Vice President of Communications Marketing to serve as the senior staff member leading the organizations strategic communications program. Reporting…

*Burson-Marsteller has an opening in D.C. for a director of public affairs:

Director, Public Affairs
Burson-Marsteller – Washington, DC
and public sector communications initiatives. Experience in government and politics is a plus. Must have 10+ years public affairs/communications experience. BA…
From Burson-Marsteller

*This next lead could be worth pursuing for someone with non-profit experience (and it has a great title) –Save the Children in D.C. is looking for an associate director for portfolio management and support for livelihoods:

Associate Director, Portfolio Management and Support for Livelihoods
Save the Children – Washington, DC
strongly preferred. Excellent interpersonal, management, oral and written communication skills and multi- cultural experience. Strong team player but can also…
From Save the Children

*Inova Health System in Springfield has an opening for a communications consultant:

Inova Health System – Springfield, VA
The Internal Communications Consultant, in partnership with the Sr. Manager, Internal Communications, helps develop and drive internal communications and higher…
From Inova Health System

*With a hat tip to (for these next two leads), in D.C. is looking for a free-lance writer:

Freelancer needed for new health-care reform newsletter, a business publication that focuses on new for health-care managers, is looking for a freelance reporter to help cover health-care issues for a new health-care reform newsletter.
The job is based in Washington, D.C. And the reporter will typically be responsible for one 1,200-word article per week.

*And to wrap up today’s leads, the Fund for Investigative Journalism is accepting applications through April 5 (that’s next Monday so you better get going if interested!) for grants for investigative reporters:

Grants offered for local investigative projects

The Fund for Investigative Journalism has a new grant program that is available to investigative reporters working on local and regional issues and in ethnic media newsrooms. Grants will average $5,000, and the first deadline for applications is April 5. The program is funded by a $100,000 grant from the Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation […]

Happy hunting!



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When to consider a lateral move How to get your resume in the right hands

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