Risk aversion and job opportunities

I currently have the opportunity to take a different position at work. This position is one much more suited to my skillset and personality and would make me more employable in the future for similar jobs. I would enjoy doing it.

It would be a pay cut but that’s actually irrelevant. The catch is that it would be funded out of temporary monies - the position would essentially be created for me. It is highly likely that one year later I would be out of a job - they’re not going to fire my replacement and let me move back into my current position.

Though I’d be more employable, positions in the new field are relatively rare and I’d still have “on paper” deficiencies. I could begin taking some graduate courses next year to mitigate those deficiencies and, though I wouldn’t finish anything, it would still look good to show progress.

I am an extremely risk-averse human being. My current position pays well (for the field) and has great benefits. Beyond that, I do Very Important Work and the moral obligation to do it well has always weighed strongly against moving on to anything else.

Taking the new position would make me happy in the short term and position me more strongly for the long term, but it also creates a ton of risk. I may find myself out of work and unable to get hired elsewhere.

Anybody here ever in a similar position? What did you do? How did it work out? Please feel free to sugarcoat the hell out of it. :wink:

My situation was moderately similar to yours. I did the mental calculus and realized I greatly needed workplace satisfaction more than I valued stability. It’s worked out for me so far. Unlike yourself, however, I am up for challenges and risks.

It’s difficult to really get into how vague things are, and I’m not asking for more detail, but how possible is it that you can teach yourself these other, unknown mystery skills rather than taking graduate-level courses? In my experience (but I do interview well), my ability to engage in certain topics has been valued more than my formal training in same.

Thanks for the input! Irritatingly, I already have the skills - hence my comment about the deficiencies being ‘on paper.’ I’ve been doing it off and on in supplementary and support capacities for years. This new position would be doing the job formally and full time. The coursework would teach me very little.

I interviewed around a couple of years ago, consistently made it to the final running, and every time got beaten out by the right flavor of experience. The two big points against me were “no Master’s degree” and “yes, you know how to do the job but you haven’t done it in this specific environment.”

The new position wouldn’t directly address either of those, but doing it formally for a year (with the appropriate title) would hopefully mitigate the latter concern.

I’m all about risk when it comes to money since its my only chance to be wealthy so I’m probably the exact opposite of the person who should be giving you advice.

That being said you’ve got a year in the new position. How much time could you spend job hunting internally and externally over that year? The idea would be to have a safe place to land 9 months into the new job then you can plan the exit that is best for you. I know its a bit weird to start job hunting the day you take a new job but when ever I get myself into a position for a specific purpose that I know isn’t going to last I am planning my exit before I even start the new job.

Have you discussed these concerns with your employer? Since they are in need of someone to take on this new role, which appears to have a short term life span, they should give you some assurances as to what your opportunities would/could be once the funding is gone. I’m sure they won’t guarantee you employment, but having these conversations with your potential new boss puts them more emotionally on the hook to make steps to follow through with any assurances they can give you.

I have an anecdote to share which is absolutely relevant. I’ll try not to ramble.

I have a friend of mine, who desperately hates his job and wants another that he’ll find satisfying. I’ll call him Grumpy even though he isn’t, just so we can keep them straight. His goal was to go into business for himself, if only to leverage his intellectual assets so he can get exactly the job he wants.

I have another friend who has a lot of business-related clout, I’ll call him Bizguy. I put him in the same room as Grumpy and let them talk for awhile, and what I got out of it was that Grumpy felt he had certain job weaknesses, that he needed to identify (which he did with Bizguy’s help), and then work on getting those credentials squared away.

You’ve already identified those, so you’ve got a leg up on my pal Grumpy. In fact, I personally feel your pain with regards to the lack of a Master’s degree. I’m often competing against colleagues who are visibly way-less talented at the job I do, but have a PhD. It has not made them better at their jobs, if anything, it’s made them worse. Though that’s also an exceptional case.

What struck me was this line you wrote:

“yes, you know how to do the job but you haven’t done it in this specific environment.”

That’s when I would have challenged that assertion in the interview. I’d spin it off with self-praise about how I’m adapable, spinning my knowledge about all the awesome stuff I’ve done, and then asked for concrete tangibles about how their environment is really so different. If they’re still interested in playing ball, I’d tell them how I’d do it in their environment, and allow for means of adjusting the whatever-it-is so it worked smoothly with colleagues.

Anyway, I hope you make the right decision for you. Without knowing more, I’d totally be going for it.

I worked for 14 years as a computer lecturer for a large telecommications company in London.
The pay was good but I had been doing the same introductory course for most of that time.
So I found the work straightforward - but I wasn’t going to be promoted.

Then a friend told me he was retiring and that I should apply for his job as a chess administrator.
(I’ve been a keen chess player and organiser all my life.)
So I went for the interview and was immediately offered the post. (N.B. It was a 50% cut in salary, and involved moving 100 miles to a small town.)
The job was quite interesting, but I soon realised that the admin board were incompetent. There also turned out to be a huge deficit in the finances.
So I resigned after just 3 months.
But by the time I was able to move back to London (with far more job opportunities), it took a while to get back into computing.

Luckily I had decent savings and could support myself through tricky times.

Within a year a really great job came up - teaching chess at a private school for an excellent salary.
Thanks to my experience as a chess administrator (plus my successes in chess generally), I got the job.
So it all ended well.

But note the key point - if you have savings, you can cope with temporary misfortune.

I’m looking at this question from the perspective of someone interviewing you for your next job. Unless your skills are something that gets certified, I wouldn’t worry about them being on paper. The interviewer can’t see inside your current company. Can you give examples of them, with specifics, that would convince me you have them graduate program or not?
If you can do this, you can jump ship now without taking a pay cut. And I’m not sure that your experience in the new job would put you in a better position, unless you get some sort of fancy title.
Also, I might see a pay cut for a new job with opportunities for promotion, but not for a dead end job in the same company. And I’d definitely ask for assurances that you would stay employed. They wouldn’t be a guarantee, but could give you some leverage. And if they told you you’d be out of a job after the temporary job you’d have an excellent reason to reject them.
I don’t think you are being particularly risk averse here, just rational. Risk averse is rejecting a new job with more money because of the possibility of failure.

You aren’t really selling it as a great opportunity. Less pay for a job that might disappear in a year and leave you unemployed with experience that isn’t in demand?

Now if it’s something you enjoy doing that will actually provide more relevant skills and experience, I would suggest trying it.

I don’t know your personal financial situation, but I see a lot of people stay in jobs that are perceived as “safe” for years beyond when they should have looked for something better. They actually do themselves a disservice as no job is “safe” and they can end up with a decade where their only employable skills being something they don’t like doing that may have become irrelevant.