Thursday, June 30, 2011

When is it okay to look for another job?

I can't figure out if these things are brilliant or silly
Photo credit: mytorontomovingandstorage
Consider the following scenario:
  • A chemist is hired for a position at a company in a city that is of moderate desirability. The company offers a relocation package; the candidate takes the package. 
  • Soon after their arrival and start date, they see a better position in a far more desirable city (closer to family, etc.). 
What is the appropriate thing to do? Is it okay to look? Is it okay to apply? You're probably going to have to pay all or most of your relocation package (is it me, or do these things have a 2 year repayment period these days?) 

I think that it's much more about 'hard feelings' than anything else; if a company picks you and you reject them (after they've invested a fair bit in you), you're probably burning your bridges. That being said, if it's your dream job and a dream city, etc., it may be worth it. 

Readers, what say you? What's the shortest amount of time that you have to stay at a chemistry position before it's terribly gauche to move on?*

*There's a "When Harry Met Sally" joke in here somewhere. 


  1. My company has a two year indentured servant policy for relocation. I still have a year left before I am free.

    But other than the relocation thing, I would say apply if you want to. You likely won't get the better job as they will look unfavorably at your very short work history at your present employer.

  2. Leave when you want. I used to believe in maintaining strong relationships and supporting your employer, but given the way that scientists have been treated over the past several years I no longer believe in showing company loyalty because it is not (and will never be) reciprocated.

    Take care of yourself. The days of companies taking care of their employees are long gone.

  3. Agree with Anon@8:43 - if a company wants loyalty they should buy a dog. They wouldn't flinch for a second if they "had to let you go".

    Personally, I've never asked for, or claimed for relocation package. Makes things easy.

  4. Ha, Anon 8:43 read my mind. Bravo

  5. Unstable IsotopeJune 30, 2011 at 1:59 PM

    I'd say go ahead an apply for your dream job as long both you and your family support this step (they might not be eager to move again). I wouldn't worry about the dilemma unless it actually was a dilemma.

    I agree with the above comments, employer loyalty is a thing of the past. You should do what you want to do and perhaps be prepared to pay back relocation expenses.

  6. Unstable IsotopeJune 30, 2011 at 2:21 PM

    Oh, in answer to your question, I think the minimum time in a position would be 2 years.

  7. "What's the shortest amount of time that you have to stay at a chemistry position before it's terribly gauche to move on?"

    A week? Maybe 2?

    Whatever company you work for would give little second thought to firing you, so I would not afford them any courtesy. Your employer is not your friend.

  8. Another job? Are people really landing more than one nowadays?

  9. I've known several people who jump ship before the first year is up. Young folks, too.

    Presumably, it's just a job they applied for and got, but I wouldn't rule out headhunters or "friends of friends"

  10. I did not have a payback period for my last relocation. But then my relocation package was pretty small...

    Check the relocation benefits literature you were given when you accepted the package. If you have an obligation to payback relocation it should be spelled out in a signed contract or published company policy.

  11. In the past, I would have said a year. Today I would probably say 3-6 months. Even though companies aren't loyal to people any more, you are putting a burden on your immediate supervisor and coworkers, since they will probably have to make up for your absence until someone else is hired. So once you have the job (in writing!) be as open as possible with your supervisor.

    However, I would only look for a new position if you think you have a really good shot at getting the job. Once you start going out for interviews, it's going to get out. People at your current job will find out. Even if you tell the interviewer not to contact your current employer, they may do it anyway. Or they may call someone they know at the company where you work. It's very difficult to keep it a secret. If you interview for the job and don't get it, your relationship with your supervisor and coworkers may never be the same.

  12. What do people think of indentured servant policies? I was in one once and it made me feel horribly nervous and trapped... Quite frankly, it thoroughly decreased my job satisfication even though there were monetary benefits to being in the contract. Am I crazy, or do others feel this way too? Has anyone ever turned down a job or quit a job when asked to enter such contracts?

  13. You can take a tip from the business world. Executive MBA students often have their employers pay for their education, and are asked to stay on for some specified period of time (~2 years) after they have completed their degree. However, buyouts can be negotiated if necessary. You may want to ask the new employer to help pay back the old one.

  14. When I was nearing the end of grad school, I declined to pursue a possible job offer because I had already accepted a postdoctoral fellowship. It ended up being a terrible postdoc. Didn't get the project I was supposed to get, had a horrible boss, miserable group members. In sum, I threw away a couple of years with that move. I think you have to be careful, think about potential repercussions and all that, but do what's best for yourself. If you'd be crazy to pass on a job (as I did), then just take the job. Don't let it go because you think that's 'doing the right thing". After all, it's not like any of us don't know what a meat grinder the sciences are.

  15. Don't throw away opportunities by 'doing the right thing'. Chances are if you are considering a different job offer shortly after accepting one, you are going to end up leaving the job you accepted at some point. That employer is then faced with higher training and adminstration costs associated with turnover. It is fairer to all parties involved to go with what is best for you at any point of time.

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looks like Blogger doesn't work with anonymous comments from Chrome browsers at the moment - works in Microsoft Edge, or from Chrome with a Blogger account - sorry! CJ 3/21/20