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honesty with employer

mark I thomas
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Joined: Apr 07, 2008
Posts: 86
I just finished a project with my current employer and they don't have continuing funding at this moment. They are working on it and they tell me they may get it anytime in next 3 to 6 months. I really like this company and they like to keep me. It is all because of the current funding issue that I have to leave now. Meanwhile, although it is very likely they will get fund in the future, there is no 100% guarantee. So now I need to find a job to pay my bill. So I just interviewed and landed a job. when I interviewed with them, I thought about this ---- Should I tell the new employer that I may go back to my former employer within next 6 months ? I hesitated but I didn't say it. First, if I said that then nobody would hire me; secondly, who knows if they will really get funding ? They didn't guarantee that for me on paper. Plus, who knows if I will really go back (what if six months later I really love the new job I am interviewing) ? However, I also know, if there is no unexpected reason and if they really get funding, most likely I may want to go back. So I really hesitated and finally I didn't volunteer that information.

Do you guys think I am a dishonest job seeker ? Would they "hate" me when I tell them I still want to go back to my former company a few months later ? On one hand I feel I did nothing wrong since there is no guarantee (although likely) on that funding approval, so why should I volunteer something that is not promised on the paper ? On the other hand I feel I hid something to the new employer. It is a mixed feeling. I know that by law or contract there is nothing wrong for me. But do you think i did something unethical ?

Want to hear how you feel.

By the way, I am in the south part of USA.
Jeanne Boyarsky
internet detective
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Joined: May 26, 2003
Posts: 30537
    
150

I think you should reconsider going back for a few reasons:
1) The new employer will be annoyed whether you disclose it or not. And likely wouldn't hire you if they knew.
2) You'll have a short job on your resume which looks bad.
3) It seems likely this same problem will arise after you go back.


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mark I thomas
Ranch Hand

Joined: Apr 07, 2008
Posts: 86
Jeanne, so what if my former employer gets a long term budget ? Do you think I still should give it up ?

Just curious --- Following your logics, what should I do at this point ?

1) Don't get a job now and starve.
2) Tell each prospective employer I "may" go back in six months and "may" go back. Hire me if you want and are ready for that.
3) Find an employer like what I have done now, then erase the former employer in my memory forever no matter how long term project they get and how much I like there, for the sake of not having a short term on my resume, and for the sake of pleasing my current employer. This is OK but really sounds little bit weird. But maybe you feel it is normal...

Please pick one from above or suggest yours.

Jeanne Boyarsky
internet detective
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Joined: May 26, 2003
Posts: 30537
    
150

mark I thomas wrote:Jeanne, so what if my former employer gets a long term budget ? Do you think I still should give it up ?

I still think you should wait at least a year.

mark I thomas wrote:Just curious --- Following your logics, what should I do at this point ?

1) Don't get a job now and starve.
2) Tell each prospective employer I "may" go back in six months and "may" go back. Hire me if you want and are ready for that.
3) Find an employer like what I have done now, then erase the former employer in my memory forever no matter how long term project they get and how much I like there, for the sake of not having a short term on my resume, and for the sake of pleasing my current employer. This is OK but really sounds little bit weird. But maybe you feel it is normal...

If those are my choices, #3. You don't know yet that you won't like the new place even more. If you do, this becomes a moot point. If not, and they liked you, go back then.

1) Obviously this isn't a real option
2) I wouldn't hire you. And I don't think many employers would. They are investing in you and training you in how they do things. Knowing you likely to quit in 6 months, why choose you?
Maneesh Godbole
Saloon Keeper

Joined: Jul 26, 2007
Posts: 10376
    
    8

No company is going to be honest with you (as in the kind of honest you are thinking, disclosing facts on the face upfront). So why should you let it affect your career? At the end of the day, survival is the basic instinct, be it individuals or companies.

If I were you, I would keep in touch with the old company and see how things go. When and if they get funding, I would evaluate how I feel about going back then. For all you know, the new job could be just as interesting.


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chris webster
Bartender

Joined: Mar 01, 2009
Posts: 1716
    
  14

Jeanne's right.

If you are applying for a permanent role, then your new employer has a right to expect the same commitment from you that you would normally expect from them. If you take the new job and quit after a few months, you will have a suspiciously short job on your record, and at least one set of former colleagues who will not trust you again. This is unlikely to be good for your career.

If you want a temporary job for just 6 months, you should apply for one honestly as a freelancer, but be prepared for the uncertainty and instability this involves. Or go backpacking for a few months.

As for your previous employer, money talks and BS walks. They have no money yet they want you to wait for them (without pay) in case they do find some money: they want to treat you like a freelancer, but (presumably) are not prepared to pay freelance rates. But there is no guarantee they will find any money, or find enough to keep you more than a few months next time. Then you will be in the same situation again - after all, these guys haven't shown much commitment to keeping you in work up to now, so why should it be any different next time?

It's up to you but if I were you, I'd take the new job and plan to stay there at least a year or two. You will learn new things in a new workplace, make new contacts and hopefully have a chance to demonstrate your skills to a new employer. All of this will be good for your career.


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Henry Wong
author
Sheriff

Joined: Sep 28, 2004
Posts: 18843
    
  40

mark I thomas wrote:
Just curious --- Following your logics, what should I do at this point ?

1) Don't get a job now and starve.
2) Tell each prospective employer I "may" go back in six months and "may" go back. Hire me if you want and are ready for that.
3) Find an employer like what I have done now, then erase the former employer in my memory forever no matter how long term project they get and how much I like there, for the sake of not having a short term on my resume, and for the sake of pleasing my current employer. This is OK but really sounds little bit weird. But maybe you feel it is normal...



There does seem to be an unbalanced amount of loyalty here.

On one side, you have a new company that hired you when you were unemployed. They took a chance at hiring you. And as you said, so that you don't "starve".

On the other side, you have a company that *actually* fired you -- albeit in a very nice (apologetic) way. They also shown to have financial issues, hence, even if they hire you back, you may be in the same position again a year later.

Why won't you give the new company a chance? Maybe they have nice people too. Maybe it is fun to work there too. Your phrasing of the three choices implies that your new company is just an interim safety net, without knowing how it is going to be like yet.

Henry


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arulk pillai
Author
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Joined: May 31, 2007
Posts: 3220
Agree with Henry. You might start liking the new company. What if your old company land into budgetary constraints again?


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mark I thomas
Ranch Hand

Joined: Apr 07, 2008
Posts: 86
I forgot to mention -- My new job is a contractor job and they told me they have budget for 1 to 2 years.
chris webster
Bartender

Joined: Mar 01, 2009
Posts: 1716
    
  14

Well, now you've told us you're a contractor that does change things a bit!

But I think the same principle still applies: if you've signed a contract for a particular period, or gave your new employer reason to believe you would stay for that period, then you should do so if possible (i.e. unless they turn out to be really evil). And if you tell them you will definitely be bailing out after 6 months, when they are apparently hoping to keep you on longer, then they might well decide to find somebody else who they can rely on.

To be honest, the prospect of a 1 to 2 year contract sounds pretty good these days, and your old employer obviously isn't in a position to offer you that, so I'd still be inclined to stick with the new guys. You can always contact the old shop if you find yourself looking for work in future, but no need to commit yourself to them at this stage when you don't know if they will have a job for you anyway.

If both companies are using contractors, it's because they don't want/need to commit to providing you with long term employment. The new company seems to be offering you a good contract, while the old company ditched you (politely) when the money ran out, which is all part of the game for contractors. But the old company has to accept that by using contractors, they can't expect people to sit around waiting for them to come up with funding: it's like expecting a taxi to sit outside your house all day without being paid, just in case you decide to go out for a ride.

Work your new contract to the end, then see how things are looking when you get towards the end: the new guys might want to keep you on, the old ones might have some money, and you can make a decision based on facts rather than vague promises. Meanwhile, nobody feels you're messing them around.
Luke Kolin
Ranch Hand

Joined: Sep 04, 2002
Posts: 336
chris webster wrote:If you are applying for a permanent role, then your new employer has a right to expect the same commitment from you that you would normally expect from them.


That's a very interesting statement. I suspect it means less than you think it does. There are plenty of companies who hire people based on the expectation that funding will come through, it doesn't, and let them go a few weeks or months later. I've been hired at companies that were acquired a few weeks later with significant headcount changes. The point is that your statement means that the same level of commitment that one would expect from an employer is very, very low.

If you take the new job and quit after a few months, you will have a suspiciously short job on your record, and at least one set of former colleagues who will not trust you again. This is unlikely to be good for your career.


Almost everyone will have a job every few years that is very short, for a variety of reasons. Financial prospects of the company changed, the job wasn't what it was advertised to be, family circumstances, etc. If it's just one or two no one will raise an eyebrow.

It's up to you but if I were you, I'd take the new job and plan to stay there at least a year or two. You will learn new things in a new workplace, make new contacts and hopefully have a chance to demonstrate your skills to a new employer. All of this will be good for your career.


I'd take the new job, but if the old employer comes back I'd at least listen to what they had to say. Lord knows if the new employer's senior management received a proposal that would financially benefit the company while resulting in the original poster losing his job, they'd certainly entertain such a possibility.

Cheers!

Luke
chris webster
Bartender

Joined: Mar 01, 2009
Posts: 1716
    
  14

Luke Kolin wrote:
chris webster wrote:If you are applying for a permanent role, then your new employer has a right to expect the same commitment from you that you would normally expect from them.


That's a very interesting statement. I suspect it means less than you think it does.


Hi Luke,

Well, Mark has now told us he's been offered a temporary contract role, so a lot of this stuff is redundant anyway.

As for "commitment", well, it's exactly as I said - you can only expect to get what you're prepared to offer, whether you're an employer or an employee. So if you find yourself employed at a cut-throat hire-and-fire shop or a consultancy busy offshoring work to India, then it would be perfectly reasonable to feel very little commitment to your employer. But in my own experience, most employers are not like that. I've worked as an employee or as a contractor at a lot of places over the years (in the UK and Europe), from startups to multinationals, and most of those places would try very hard to avoid making staff redundant, especially after investing time and money in training/familiarising them with the company's systems etc. So if you are offered a decent job with a decent company that appears to treat its staff decently, you should try to treat them decently in return. It's true that there are all kinds of reasons why people might leave a job relatively quickly, but I still don't think you should take a job deliberately planning to quit after 3 months to run back where you came from. In any case, this kind of thing can get you a bad name, and other people move around as well, so it's usually a good idea to keep people sweet in case you run into them again.

Of course, as a contractor, things are totally different - we're just Kleenex anyway! - but employers still expect you to work your contract period and it's still a good idea not to mess people about if you can help it.

Cheers,
Chris



Luke Kolin
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Joined: Sep 04, 2002
Posts: 336
chris webster wrote:So if you find yourself employed at a cut-throat hire-and-fire shop or a consultancy busy offshoring work to India, then it would be perfectly reasonable to feel very little commitment to your employer. But in my own experience, most employers are not like that. I've worked as an employee or as a contractor at a lot of places over the years (in the UK and Europe), from startups to multinationals, and most of those places would try very hard to avoid making staff redundant...


I think there's a middle ground between the two, and I also believe that a fair bit is shaped by the laws where one is located.

Where I am in the US, while it may seem cut-throat outside our borders (as it did to me when I was in Canada) I believe we see things similarly to you in some ways. It's hard to find good people, and it doesn't make sense to let them go on a whim. At the same time, many employers here are very reluctant to keep contractors on for more than a year and contractors are either a prelude to full-time hire within a few months - or they're a fungible body with little in terms of long-term use. If it takes 6-9 months to get someone up to speed we're not going to hire a contractor; since after a few months we'd need to let them go again.

I think there also may be some difference in terms of "contract period". While there may be such a thing here, the reality is that the employer has no contractual penalties for terminating things early and neither does the contractor. If I was contracting again and the employer felt strongly about me serving out the entire period, I'd be happy to do so and would willingly write language into the contract specifying this, provided that a) they paid me through the entire contract period were they to terminate me early and b) they paid me a higher rate for forgoing other opportunities. I don't see any economic rationale for restricting myself in terms of career opportunities without any compensation or similar restrictions on the other party.

It's true that there are all kinds of reasons why people might leave a job relatively quickly, but I still don't think you should take a job deliberately planning to quit after 3 months to run back where you came from.


I agree with this, but at the same time I'd be open to hearing what the original company had to offer. I have a rule that I'm always happy to talk to someone.

Cheers!

Luke
chris webster
Bartender

Joined: Mar 01, 2009
Posts: 1716
    
  14

Luke Kolin wrote:I think there also may be some difference in terms of "contract period". While there may be such a thing here, the reality is that the employer has no contractual penalties for terminating things early and neither does the contractor.... I don't see any economic rationale for restricting myself in terms of career opportunities without any compensation or similar restrictions on the other party.


Yes, that's one difference here in the UK: any notice period has to be fair to both sides e.g. if the client can fire you at 30 days' notice, then you can also quit at 30 days' notice. This principle normally applies even if the contract itself is worded in favour of the client, although it can be hard to pursue this legally if you'd end up spending more on legal fees than your 30 days' notice period was worth. Also, I dare say it might be different e.g. if your quitting meant the client would have to trash the entire project, as this would be unfair to the client - but I've never been in that happy position of indispensibility!

I have a rule that I'm always happy to talk to someone.


Always a good policy!
 
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