‘Take this job and shove it’

by Anonymous

Would you ever resign from your job before you have another one lined up? What about to move to a dream location, such as NYC or San Francisco?

What circumstances would need to be in place to have you even consider? As a single person only responsible for yourself? What about a sole breadwinner of a family?

If I did something like this I would need to dip into my home equity and/or 401k savings.

Health insurance would either be through COBRA or ObamaCare.

I am currently miserable where I am (the boss, not the work).


108 thoughts on “‘Take this job and shove it’

  1. This is very timely. My DH currently hates his job and wants to resign before a new one is lined up. He is still sticking with it, but the job is crushing his soul. Additionally, there is added stress of interviewing while still working. I’m not sure how much longer he can hang on before calling it quits. He is the breadwinner of the family, but his main concern is how prospective employers would view him if he was unemployed.

  2. I am not good at financial risk-taking. Even when I was truly miserable in my job and DH was (we thought) employed in a stable position, and even though I had an offer to go back to telecommute for my old job that I liked, it took me months (and many teary nights in front of Quicken figuring out if we could keep the house) to decide to cut bait. It wasn’t until I really looked at the people who had been there 15+ years, and saw how beaten down they were, that I said no job is worth my self-respect.

    I would be more likely to do it now, because we can easily live on one salary, and because we have enough saved that if everything totally shot to hell I could still MMM my way through. But I’m still not going to, because I want to be able to offer my kids a wide college choice, and we’re sort of in a sweet spot here (salary vs. cost of living) that allows us to do that while not working until 70.

    I am looking forward to hearing from others who are braver and/or more optimistic than I.

  3. Would you ever resign from your job before you have another one lined up?

    No, if you quit you don’t get unemployment.

  4. When I was younger, I would have lined up another job before I quit. Now that I’m older and have more savings, I would quit if I needed to. I am the main breadwinner in the family, so it matters if I work. It’s also really helpful that I live in a low COL area.

  5. No. I’d need to have things lined up. If I’m ready to say I’m outta here without having something lined up, I’ll be retiring (i.e. walking away from paying work).

  6. I quit my job due a severe illness eleven years ago, My husband stepped up to the plate. He now makes three times what he did , I recovered and the kids grew up. Once I was better we decided I would not go back to paid employment as the overall level of happiness for all of us was increased with someone at home. I own a very small but rather profitable business . The big question of the day is do I expand and hire more employees or not. Increasing the employee base and hiring people I do not otherwise know seems daunting . I knew very well all of my current employees before they came to work with me . There are so many steps on the way to becoming a grown up and then you are old.

  7. Mom always said that it’s easier to get a boyfriend when you already have a boyfriend, and it’s easier to get a job when you already have a job. I think I’d try to line up something before jumping. I’ve seen several people kind of pull in favors to get “consulting” gigs with friends so their resumes don’t have a big gap.

  8. Twice I have been so miserable that I was contemplating this. Soul-crushing is the perfect description. I did not do it either time due to my employer being the provider of health insurance for our family and each time the economy was in the tank making the job outlook grim.

    In one case, I was recruited to another job. In the other case, I took a LARGE pay cut, but over time it worked out for the best. I also found it was the BOSS and not the WORK or co-workers that caused the problem.

    When I was single with a “take this job and shove it” bank account – 3 months full salary, that could be stretched to cover 6 months of living expenses – I would have considered it. Before Obamacare and after having children, having only very expensive COBRA and a child with chronic illness was truly the thing that kept me from quitting.

    Anon didn’t ask for any advice, but what helped me was (1) working to minimize my interaction with my boss, (2) putting lots of effort into the job search, (3) knowing that I could take a pay cut, at least for a while to get out of my awful condition.

  9. me, me, me.

    I didn’t just quit my job, but I had lot of discussion with DH, friends, former colleagues, and SAHMs before I left my job. I probably thought about this for at least two years until I had an honest discussion with my manager about leaving. I was miserable for a long time during the financial crisis. I was very unhappy, but I didn’t want to leave because I was worried about the loss of income. Also, I was never out of work except for a three month maternity leave. I couldn’t imagine a life without work because my identity was wrapped up in my titles, and income. It took me a long time to feel financially secure after a childhood that was filled with a lack of money.

    The first tipping point was a close college friend that died of cancer. I had other friends that had cancer, but she was the first of my peer to group to die of cancer. It was that mid life point in my forties when I realized that health is really a priority for me. I finally believed the cliche that life is short. I wasn’t sleeping, my eye twitched, and I was stressed all of the time. I knew that my job was impacting my health, and there was no way to cut back due to the crisis. Also, the job market was so bad that i couldn’t just get a better job at another company.

    The final tipping point was my compensation. I was fortunate to still have a job in an industry that was imploding, but my company cut compensation. It was cut so much that I was finally able to have a conversation about whether it was worth it to keep working there, and pay for childcare and a commute. I knew that in the long run, it made sense to just suffer and stick it out. The retirement and medical benefits made the equation worth it even with the pay cut. The emotional decision won vs. the financial/security decision.

    I would have never taken this step without a strong financial safety net. In my case, I had benefits and income from DH. We didn’t live a lifestyle that required two large incomes. We spent a long time analyzing how long we could live if DH lost his job. Also, I spoke to former managers and colleagues while I was contemplating this move. I wanted to get their feedback, and I wanted them to know that I might eventually be available for project/consulting work.

    I’m still glad that I left, but I have some regrets. The primary thing I miss is the money. I never wanted to be financially dependent on someone, and I don’t fully have that now. I feel fortunate that I could still go back to work for one of these managers full time, but that door closes a little more each year.

  10. I have been fired a couple of times but have never quit, too risk-averse. I was contemplating it a few years back when we had #2 and then when we had #3, but I found that things got markedly better when we hired our new nanny.

  11. I had independent health insurance (pre-Obamacare) for 9 years. Our family survived. Healthcare was more expensive, especially when DS was sick, but we had access to decent care. We lived without 401K, FSA, and the other perks for half our marriage. We’ve lived without any income (neither of us earning money) before, as well.

    DH hasn’t had a paycheck in 16 months. That’s a 60% pay cut for our joint income. He hasn’t had a 401K or health benefits in 20 years.

    My point is that you survive/thrive. It’s ok. You can do it.

  12. Everyone has their own threshold for how much misery they’re willing to endure on the job. I’ve walked away from “soul-crushing” job situations, but I did prepare ahead of time. The first time I did not have kids, but I found myself in my early 30s with a home that was way underwater and dire career prospects in an industry that tanked. I could have stayed in a depressed industry, probably facing glum job conditions for many years. I jumped and made a career change without having a job lined up. I moved to a “dream city”. This necessitated a couple of years living in relative poverty. My then boyfriend and I “worked it” – cold calling, furniture department at Sears, selling spiral hams, etc. until we recovered and then prospered. It was definitely worth it for us.

  13. I am very fortunate in that my business has worked for me, I now have more take home pay with less effort than I ever had working in corporate America . I have a math tutoring franchise , several employees and a wait list for students needing services. I didn’t plan this but I am grateful now I need to work out a business plan for expansion or not.

  14. Oh boy Lauren – my left eyelid is twitching as I write this and has been for about 2 weeks. I hadn’t considered that a factor for the Pro Quitting column but maybe I should!

    I think about this, and discuss it w/ DH and 2 close friends, pretty much every day. I actually like my job and no longer have long hours but the mental drain from the hours I’m here (sheer intellectual energy drain, not bad boss drain) leaves me too fried to do other things, and in particular, the one Other Thing that has the potential – but not the guarantee – to replace my income. (For the past 3 years, I have out earned my Regular Job with income from the Other Thing. The question is, will that continue?)

    DH is a big supporter of my making the leap but I’m not a big risk taker and I worry that “potential” income won’t ever bring me the peace of mind that actual income brings.

    DH’s latest plan is that upon emptying our best in 2 years, I should make this leap and then we could leave our non-California home for the winter, taking up residence in Santa Monica, where his company is based. This plan has developed more fully recently and seeing SNOW on April 4 has made me pay more attention to the plan. I think he believes that should be the latest date on which I do this, and he is if the mind that I should do it far before then. I would love to think I could muster up the guts faster but am cheered by Lauren’s story that it took her a full 2 years and may share that with DH tonight as a means of showing it’s reasonable for me to out off the decision for now.

  15. I will say, I left one job because of the boss that I wish I had been able to stick it out about 6 more months because the boss left and the replacement was one of my former managers that I could have continued to work for. But, hindsight is always 20/20.

  16. To the OP — if it’s the boss and not the job, why not search for another job in your field? Are you actively searching now?

  17. @Austin — ditto. Just when I decided to leave my one job, they announced a corporate takeover, with big severance packages. So I hung out 6 more mos for the package — only to discover that the horrid boss had saved my job. So I quit. Found out later said boss was herself let go, and a much more reasonable person took over (who is actually now a periodic client of the firm, in a great display of Small World Syndrome).

    That said, at least telecommuting gave us more flexibility when DH’s job imploded a few months later, so probably all for the best.

  18. L – if you don’t mind me asking, how did you get passed being fired when asked about why you looking in interviews? I’m not a risk taker at all, so I keep content in my current role, always worried that if I go elsewhere I won’t be a good fit and will get fired.

  19. OP, I think you should wait to see how the next step in the other thing does this year. You should have some concrete information soon as to whether the other thing is beginners luck, or a second career.

  20. Lauren – I’m not the OP FYI. I think your message might be for me though.

  21. I’m pretty risk-averse, about a decade away from retirement goal, and have another kid to get through college, so no for me. I have had a soul-crushing job pre-kids that I left without anything lined up, but I was only two years out of school, cheap, and very employable.

    I have also seen the downside for my risk-taking friends and family. Two who had generous one-year severance packages took much of that time to enjoy life and de-stress, then had trouble re-entering the job market and took sizable pay cuts. My brother sold his house just before foreclosure after an extended bout of unemployment, but he was single so willing to gamble on what he really wanted. (He is very happy with that decision now, but still has insufficient savings for being in his 50s).

    I think the main factors are your tolerance for risk and your savings cushion. I’m a 3am worrier, and can’t do anything to stop that tendency.

  22. I had colleagues quit for various reasons. Prior to that all of them had spent at least six months thinking through their next steps. A couple of women left because it became difficult to balance career and home. Like Lauren, they had spouses whose income was enough to live on, but it did take time to come to terms with leaving. A couple were miserable and determined that a career change was in order, they started taking the appropriate courses while still employed. I had positions where I wanted to quit for various reasons but six months to a year gave me time to find another job or slowly gain flexibility staying where I was. Now, that my kids are older I feel I am in a better place job wise, with less of “pull” from the home front.

  23. Lemon – when I moved from firm #1 to firm #2, firm #1 gave me good references and didn’t tell firm #2 I was being fired, nor did I volunteer that information – I was already looking when I was fired and said that I was very slow and looking for someplace where I would be busier (true!).

    When I moved from firm #2 to firm #3 (my current job), I said I was looking for work-life balance (true!). I also didn’t volunteer that I had been fired, nor did firm #2 tell anyone because of the confidentiality of the separation agreement. (I had been fired while I was pregnant and the agreement was in lieu of me suing firm #2.)

    Also, in general, law firms fire a lot more people than what shows up on the NALP reports. Particularly in biglaw, people are pushed out but given 3 months to find a new job so it doesn’t look like they have been fired. There are also very few layoffs – you can see how Latham’s layoffs really tanked its reputation for years here: http://abovethelaw.com/2010/06/how-did-latham-become-the-poster-child-for-layoffs/

  24. Is it correct that most places now will only confirm (1) you worked there the dates you said you did, (2) the position(s) held, (3) final salary, and (4) whether you are eligible to be rehired? My understanding is that the (4) is generally yes as the list of what makes you ineligible for rehire is fairly limited.

  25. L,

    What do you mean by fired? It sounds like business was slow so you were let go which most people would call a layoff.

  26. L- what’s amazing to me is that Latham and other firms didn’t learn from the earlier round of Biglaw layoffs in 2001 – 02 (or so). Those were ugly too. 50% of my year, the one below and the year above were laid off by my Biglaw firm.

  27. Do you define “fired” as you screwed up, and you’re fired? Are you saying that a layoff, or reduction in force isn’t the same as being “fired” since it sometimes isn’t based on job performance?

  28. In my last job I often fantasized about simply walking out the door but never had the guts. Incidentally, every single person in my group left within a year or so of my leaving. The company was depressing and the manager was a jerk

  29. I equate fired with poor job performance and a layoff is due to reduction in force/non-performance related.

    I’ve never quit a job without something else lined up. I’m too risk adverse. I’ve mostly left roles for more growth. When I’ve had horrific bosses that has sometimes I try to minimize the control the boss has over me. I also try to remember that things constantly change so my boss now probably won’t be my boss 18 months from now. I tell myself that when trying to endure the bad bosses, and now I’m telling that myself to prepare for when my good gig changes.

    DH quit his job to go back to law school when he couldn’t face the idea of doing his job/being in his industry until retirement. We had time to prepare for that though as it was a year from when he decided to quit his job to when he started school.

    Easier said than done, but you can try to phone it in at your current job while looking for something else. Or set firmer boundaries on work/life balance. Worse case they fire you and you get severance/unemployment.

  30. When I left Biglaw, I’d been thinking about it for well over a year and had lined up a job before leaving. I was single at the time, but it was still a tough decision. Now, I’d definitely have something lined up if at all possible.

    We seem to be a rather risk averse crowd.

  31. Rhett – that is the firm’s reclassification process. They don’t do layoffs so everyone is just fired for ‘performance-related reasons’, but if asked the firm and the person being laid off both say that they are not being fired or laid off. Above the Law would classify all of these as “stealth layoffs”.

    ATM – yes, when I started in 2002 was the first layoff my firm had ever had – luckily the first-years were spared!

  32. When I worked for a big consulting firm, they had a policy that anyone could give two months notice of quitting and then stay on the payroll for two months while looking for their next opportunity. The purpose is to make sure that alumni end up in powerful positions where they can then hire the consultants. I think I may have been the only person to take advantage of this who hadn’t actually been pushed out the door. I was married with no kids, so it wasn’t a big risk for me. I stretched the two months to its limit and then started at a new job immediately after that. It worked out great as I never had to tell a prospective employer that I was unemployed, yet I was available around the clock for interviews.

  33. Happy Camper – I would love to read a post about your math tutoring business and your experiences starting it up and growing the business.

  34. “Happy Camper – I would love to read a post about your math tutoring business and your experiences starting it up and growing the business.”

    I would too

  35. ” It worked out great as I never had to tell a prospective employer that I was unemployed, yet I was available around the clock for interviews.”


  36. In my experience, being fired is for cause or not for cause. For cause being something you did either on purpose or you failed to do that you should have known better. The first one would be falsifying your timesheet to get paid for more hours than you worked or stealing from the employer. The second one would be failing to review tax documents resulting in underpayment to the IRS that resulted in the company having to pay a huge penalty. The not for cause are things like – less demand for company’s product/services and/or more automation means it needs fewer employees.

  37. I was way too risk-averse to leave my law firm job for another, even though it was an era when headhunters routinely called nearly every 2nd-4th year associate on a regular basis to inquire about our interest in moving on. I was the primary breadwinner and apart from summer and judicial clerkships, it was my first “real” job. When I decided I wanted to stay home full-time, I waited a full year actually to do it, to save money. At that time, in the mid 1990’s, law firm layoffs were unthinkable.

    One of my brothers left a decent-paying job in Southern California and moved with his wife and child to Portland, where they had dreamed of living. They lived off savings and income from her part-time job for well over a year before he found employment. I thought he was nuts. Now almost 50, he has little equity in the house they recently bought, virtually no retirement savings, and little saved for college for his 8-year old. Because of their lifestyle choices, they are not in a position to help my dad either financially or practically, which is kind of annoying but it’s his life.

  38. Firms here do stealth layoffs too. It goes along with the up-or-out system where only maybe one in four of your associate class will actually make partner. So it both is and isn’t performance based — obviously the partnership decision is performance based, not random, and those who aren’t making partner will be asked to leave if they haven’t seen the handwriting on the wall and found something else already, but it’s not the case that they screwed up in a big way, just that they weren’t showing signs of bringing in business / making their hours / in an area of business the firm wants to expand / whatever other factors.

  39. In the 22 years of my second time around working career, there were a total of 5 weeks that I did not bring in W-2 wages or 1099 consulting income. And I was drawing a a small early retirement buyout pension during that time, and went on vacation as well. My children were sure after I said that I was done for good 2 1/2 years ago that I would only last 3 months. But it was time.

  40. At the moment I like my boss, my worklife balance, and benefits. If any of those start to falter I guess I shouldn’t be adverse to moving on. Hating a job, getting laid off, or being fired is not the end of the world just an inconvenience.

    Interesting about Latham. I never realized that BigLaw was, at one time, considered layoff-proof. That must have been quite the eye opener.

  41. In my experience, being fired is for cause or not for cause.

    I wonder if its a regional thing? To me you can only get fired for cause – stealing, sexual harassment, punching the boss, etc. Getting laid off is being let go for any other reason.

  42. Rhett, it’s probably a law firm thing. They gossip worse than 7th grade girls. And you know how chickens will all peck at the sore spot on another chickens? That’s how law firms act when one of them is rumored to be doing ACTUAL LAYOFFS, as opposed to the stealth layoffs that are baked into the structure of the thing.

  43. I have quit my job 6 times! Each time without another job lined up. The first was to go to B-School. The second was for an exciting move overseas for an opportunity for my husband. The third after having a third baby and wanting some time with him and in the foreign country without working. The fourth was after a huge management upheaval – I was promoted but hated the new management. The 5th was after a merger – I was promoted but did not like the new company. The 6th was to retire early! Each time (except the last) I landed a new job with a huge raise (15-30% more than I was making before – even in the foreign country. I was willing to take the risk because we had my husband’s income and a huge stash of savings.

  44. But it may also depend on time and place. Bear in mind that Honolulu didn’t have a 90s boom — in fact our economy was sliding sideways all through the 90s in parallel with the Japanese economy.

  45. “At that time, in the mid 1990’s, law firm layoffs were unthinkable.”

    Really? Were you in DC then? I graduated a few years before that, into the teeth of the first big legal recession anyone could recall. The firm I went to work for laid off @ 50 attorneys right around my first review period — it was a huge deal at the time, because as you say, no one did that. But of course, they told the papers it was “performance-related,” not “layoffs.”

    I never forgave them for that. Everyone in the firm knew it was economics. But they chose to screw over the decent people they let go by telling future employers that, well, those folks just weren’t very good lawyers. Just ‘fess up and admit that the economy sucks — don’t protect your reputation on the backs of people who were loyal and worked hard for you.

  46. Quick comment from a frequent reader, but almost never post.

    I’ve been in work situations a couple of times when I decided to quit – like many here, too risk-averse to just up and quit without building the safety net first. Short version, as soon as I knew I *could,* things didn’t look quite so bad. Nothing had changed except that I no longer felt desperate and without options. Hope this might work for some others.

  47. and I do have a dream destination in mind…if I don’t do it now with retirement 30 years away, I worry it will never happen

    I’ve looked at jobs in dream location, but many seem reluctant to interview someone not in the area (relocation isn’t provided for the jobs I’m interested in)

  48. Has anyone changed fields after 40? I expect I’ll have to start over in something in a few years. The benefit of being where I am geographically is that the cost of living is modest and my income is not needed to pay the bills as long as Mr WCE is gainfully employed. The disadvantage is that there are very few opportunities so I will have to work hard at something that may not be a good fit.

    For those who successfully changed jobs several times, did you do it in an area with few opportunities?

  49. In the 90s, layoffs in the firms I worked at were not done. The first mass layoffs or displacements came in 01-02. Those were very hard. As time went on, being displaced became more common place at all levels. Now, people who are on the fence about continuing to work hope they are laid off and get a nice severance package.

  50. I’ve looked at jobs in dream location, but many seem reluctant to interview someone not in the area (relocation isn’t provided for the jobs I’m interested in)

    If it’s a dream location, you may be seeing the same effect that employers here contend with — people dream about coming to live here, but then when they get here they didn’t realize the cost of living was quite that high, and they get stir-crazy not being able to drive away somewhere for the weekend, and they miss distant family and friends, and they don’t stay. Not all react that way — but employers don’t want to take the chance and especially don’t want to pay to relocate people who are likely to leave after a few years. So they prefer to hire someone who’s already here, or at least someone who grew up here or otherwise has connections suggesting they know what they’re getting into.

  51. In the 90s, layoffs in the firms I worked at were not done.

    I assume in the past (say the ’72 or ’82 recessions) the partners just made less and kept everyone on?

  52. @WCE – have you tried looking at companies that allow their people to work remotely ? It doesn’t matter where you live. One of my friends has moved for her husband’s job but she continued with IBM working from home.

  53. LfB,

    I graduated in the mid 80’s and left the DC legal world in the mid 90’s, just as some big firms began rethinking their business model. But up till then, a job at a decent-sized firm was bulletproof. Summer associate programs were quite lavish:

    “For the next few months, the law firm of Cravath, Swaine & Moore will, among other things, pay half of each summer associate’s rent, while Debevoise & Plimpton will cater picnics for its associates at Shakespeare in the Park.

    Shearman & Sterling will offer tickets to ”The Real Thing” and Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy will charter a boat to cruise New York Harbor and provide an on-board dinner.

    Sullivan & Cromwell will sponsor a day of golf and tennis at a Long Island country club. Simpson, Thacher & Bartlett will pay for five so-called dream nights on the town.

    The annual courtship between law firms and law students has begun.”


    I’m guessing this sort of thing is gone with the wind, but it was fun while it lasted. I would never otherwise have seen “Cats.”

  54. Louise, I don’t know of any companies that let you START working remotely. The only people I know who work remotely started in a big city (DC, Bay Area, etc.) and then relocated here due to their spouse’s job and were allowed to keep working remotely. Ideas, anyone?

  55. The summer associate social programs continued to be extravagant into the 90s. I wasn’t even a lawyer and I received perks. I would frequently meet my friends at restaurants or parties and the firm always paid. I even went to a baseball game when someone had an extra ticket. This is when my friends were the junior associates at the big firms, and they were responsible for summer social outings.

  56. @Scarlett — oh, yes, I remember those days. My late-’80s summer clerkship involved events out every night — dinners, plays, you name it, we’d meet in the library at 7 or 8 or so and go out. It was only after about a month that that I realized that every night as we were meeting in the library, all of the real attorneys were greeting us there — but then they weren’t coming out with us, they were staying in the library to finish their work. D’oh! Decided I didn’t really want to still be at work every night at 8 and opted elsewhere. :-)

  57. WCE: How about working at a local university? Not as a professor, but as staff.

  58. Scarlett, the summer associate programs got even more lavish in my day (’03-’07, until the ’08 crash).

    We had one major event like a Broadway show or MLB game every week, and sometimes two, with a mandatory trip to a luxury hotel for orientation.

    Then after the crash we had the stealth layoffs and then the real layoffs. But still some summer associates, because they didn’t want to lose the pipeline. Once AmLaw started ranking the firm’s by profits per partner, I think the partners got much less accepting of reducing their income during downturns to keep associates and staff employed. They were a competitive bunch.

    I stuck it out for a while and quit for full time motherhood when we had saved enough. There are lots of days when I wonder if I lost my mind, but the rest of the family is better for it.

  59. Houston, I think floating around the university as some sort of contract staff is my most likely career path. But I’m kind of down on the university, for the reasons described in yesterday’s post, and it would be a big paycut from an engineering salary. Hopefully either my attitude will change or the situation at the university will change.

  60. Yes, WCE, the salaries are low. Really low. I think the work could be interesting, though the red tape and bureaucracy would be terrible. Why would you be contract v. permanent?

  61. WCE – have you looked online at all for telecommuting jobs? My employer has positions across the country and many say telecommuting as a location. It’s not an engineering company. I’m not an engineer and don’t pay close enough attention to what type of engineering specialty you are in. You are obviously very smart and would have skills in demand. Have you tried looking on job boards like indeed.com or at contracting comapnies to see what is out there?

  62. WCE – After my MIL retired from her job, she started up a second career as a realtor. She took some courses, passed the exam and was off to the races. Her first career was in sales/customer service, so being a realtor is a good fit for her personality.

  63. My sister is a realtor. She enjoys it. The job is flexible, but you work lots of nights and weekends.

    How about a tutor? You would be great at it!

  64. There is an oversupply of tutors locally. Most/many telecommuting jobs I looked at in the past looked like scams. I haven’t looked for a few years. The university hires almost everyone on a short term renewable contact. I don’t want to work nights/weekends. I might wind up getting a professional engineering license someday

  65. “Has anyone changed fields after 40?”

    I did.

    Are there any fabs left in Oregon? I was offered a couple of jobs there when I was graduating, although I believe further north than where you are. Intel had a bunch of fabs in Hillsboro and Aloha, and I also got an offer Tektronix in Beaverton (right across the street from an up and coming shoe company).

    Of course, back in the day there were fabs every couple of blocks in SV.

  66. OP, I was in your situation once. I stayed with the same employer, but changed jobs. While with that employer, I changed jobs three times. Intra-company transfers were quite common, and often were due to personal friction between manager and managee.

  67. “as soon as I knew I *could,* things didn’t look quite so bad. Nothing had changed except that I no longer felt desperate and without option”

    I’ve heard similar things from guys who continued working after becoming eligible for retirement.

  68. WCE,

    I assume most of the equipment you work with comes with an elaborate software package. Do the vendors allow their staff to work from home while doing support?

  69. The bad boss or even a bad-fit boss becomes much less of a burden in a bureaucratic organization after he/she does something that permits a legitimate sit down with HR – either a mediation or something protectively initiated by the underling. This happened to me once and to one of my kids once. After that, you have a file and know you can’t be as easily hounded out.

  70. About two years before I retired, my employer hired a new manager for my unit. He was miserable to work for and I don’t think he liked me anymore than I liked him. i gave notice the minute I was eligible for retirement, as did one of my colleagues.

    My stress level declined and quality of life has increased. I had long been on a plan to retire early and so we banked most of my salary and used the rest for the mortgage and retirement plans. I don’t know that I would have left so soon if I had a more congenial boss, but it was liberating to be able to leave and when I was there to know that I had a finite number of days to go.

  71. Long time lurker that works at a university as staff. Salaries can be low but it also depends on the area. Administrative work at a university medical school can pay pretty well. One of the great benefits for many private universities as that that they will pay 100% of the undergrad tuition for children.

  72. At this point, I’m too close to retirement to quit. If my job became intolerable, I’d look to make an internal transfer, also common with my current employer, that would keep me on track for retirement.

  73. “One of the great benefits for many private universities is that they will pay 100% of the undergrad tuition for children.”

    This is why a buddy of mine, and his sister, went to LSJU.

  74. “because I want to be able to offer my kids a wide college choice”

    As I’ve dived into the realm of paying for college, this has become less of a concern. The key is for your kids to make themselves attractive to colleges.

    HSS offer need-based grant aid. If you lose your job (e.g., quit), the aid will go up.

    If your kid is academically outstanding, there will be merit aid options. E.g. many flagships offer full tuition and admission to honors college for NMF. For kids not NMF, but outstanding academically, there are still very good schools that offer merit aid.

  75. Another Anon, I’m thinking that if you’re two years away from emptying the nest, your risk is fairly low.

    If you’re that close to the nest emptying, you also have a pretty good idea how attractive your kid(s) will be to colleges, and what kind of options they will have.

    The one potential fly I see in your ointment is the high COL in Santa Monica.

    Could you take a LOA from your current job to recharge and check out your other option?

  76. I enjoyed Milo’s clip. Recently a manager got fired and way we all came to know about it, was we looked at the new organization chart and saw that she was nowhere on it. I don’t know what went on behind closed doors but it was not a nice way to be let go. There was none of the standard “will be looking for other opportunities”. She did get a good severance and joked that she would open a cupcake shop. After spending six months relaxing with her kids, she is now employed again.

  77. WCE- there is a jobs website called Flexjobs that has some telecommuting jobs. I never paid any attention to anything that wasn’t Finance, so don’t know if anything would appeal to you.

    I’ll second the university suggestion. A couple relatives work at a university hospital and get $16k off tuition at any public university in the state. My BIL works at a prestigious private university, and they get up to the hefty cost of tuition at that school waived at any number of the universities in their reciprocity agreement – something like 280 to choose from. With 3 kids, that’s quite a perk.

  78. Recently a manager got fired and way we all came to know about it, was we looked at the new organization chart and saw that she was nowhere on it.

    It’s very politburo:

    If you got fired they’d airbrush you out of the group photo.

  79. Has anyone changed fields after 40?

    I was 39 when I started nursing school after 15 years in IT. It was an accelerated BSN program and I was 40 when I graduated. Then I started an NP program (which was my ultimate goal) and graduated when I was 44.

    I was fired for cause (or whatever terminology you want to use) from my first nursing job after 3 months. That was really fun. I tried to spin it when I was applying for new jobs, but after talking to enough experienced nurses that it was a BS reason to be fired, I just told the full story in interviews and got two job offers pretty quickly.

  80. RMS, I think I want to change fields at the small scale but to still be something related to engineering, like a project manager, manager or process engineer. I think I should get out of my declining subfield but I’m not looking for a Denver Dad level of change. Rhett, there are a few positions to provide remote support in my field but given that it generally takes years on the road to get one and the field is shrinking in the US, that’s probably not a good long term goal.

    One of my former colleagues works on utility rate setting. Her job appeals to me, I think. She is about 20 years older than I am, and she observed that one of my strengths is predicting not just that a proposal/project design will fail, but exactly how it will fail and, if I’m given sufficient autonomy, to make the proposal/project successful or at least to fail in a different way, later. I reach “mediocre” in any technical area fairly quickly when I’m learning something new and I like learning new things.

    My weaknesses are limited commitment to work (especially while my kids are young and I’m the primary parent) and an unwillingness (unless I’m desperate) to do a job I don’t believe is mostly “a good thing to do”. It would bother me, for example, to overlook shoddy electrical work at a local metal plant that has caused fires in the past. I’ve been fortunate to have employers in the past who have genuinely high employee safety/environmental/ethical standards.

    I am moderately tolerant of bureaucracy. I prefer to see what I work on succeed in weeks or months but I could tolerate working on something with a trajectory beyond my career, like the local nuclear power startup. I like working with people and I’m considered “enthusiastic” even when my technical competence is limited, so I’m pretty good at getting help from others. I don’t especially want to go back to school, but I might do a certificate program. I would really like a stable career for the next ~20 years in about ~5 years.

  81. “like a project manager, manager or process engineer”

    WCE – all the project managers and process improvement people, I know are working remotely. These job are in a service industry. The hard part I think is changing industries from purely engineering to say a service industry. In the service industry, they may require a project management certificate or a process improvement designation like Six Sigma (this is just off the top of my head). SWVA Mom, made the transition and she would perhaps be a useful person to talk to.

  82. “something related to engineering, like a project manager, manager or process engineer.”

    I thought process engineers are engineers. I also thought you had experience as such.

  83. “HSS offer need-based grant aid. If you lose your job (e.g., quit), the aid will go up.

    If your kid is academically outstanding, there will be merit aid options.”

    @Finn, we will not qualify for need-based aid with either of our salaries given what I know of their formulas (they thought my mom could afford to pay half of her $20K salary in the ’80s, and there’s no way it’s gotten better since then). And DD is not academically outstanding, at least in our pretty competitive part of the country — she’s going to be the kid who always has at least one B from various brain farts. I suspect she could get merit aid from a mid-level school and accepted to a higher-rated-but-not-HSS school with no aid, and I’d like to be able to consider the latter option if it is the better fit for her.

    My mom also has the free tuition option (in a trade program with a number of small privates)

    @WCE: you need to be a regulator — your skills and mindset would translate very well. Look at state jobs that call for your skill set, even if it’s in a slightly different field.

  84. Interesting, all the project managers I know do not work much from home, because their job entails so much interaction with people. They seem to spend most of their time people-wrangling. It is a job I could never do, not in a million years.
    I have one good friend who transitioned from software dev to project management. She said it was imperative to get the PMP, that she couldn’t get hired without it

  85. My career has morphed over time, but not into totally different industries with the last change being in my early 50s. Each time I made a significant change, there was a period of wondering if I had bit off more than I could chew. I think we get comfortable in knowing what to expect and how to do the main components of our job.

    WCE – another thought is to see if you could get a part-time teaching (asst. professor-type) job with the local university. At my local they hire working professionals to supplement the teaching staff. Plus, many of the faculty supplement their income with consulting jobs – some are hired directly, while others subcontract with a larger firm. Getting connected to those folks might open some doors for you or at least some contacts.

  86. I think LfB is correct WCE – you have the mind set of a regulator. If you haven’t thought about government, while rarely ever competitive on salary, can have other benefits and can be a transition spot. Many government regulators will end up working for the companies they regulate, at much higher salaries.

    If you haven’t considered government – engineers are often found in road construction, agency that licenses engineers, environmental agencies, oil and gas regulation, energy regulation, building construction, and even insurance regulation. There are likely more, but those are the ones I know of. Also, with some government jobs they will look more at skill sets than titles of jobs you have held.

    Project management certification is a nice tool in your toolbox if you can get it.

  87. “She said it was imperative to get the PMP, that she couldn’t get hired without it.”

    This seems to be true. Most of the jobs I looked at required the certificate. Also, though remote the PMs I know are on the phone a lot with some but not heavy travel.

  88. No, you do not want a part time university teaching position (aka adjunct) unless you want to make less per hour than your babysitter.

  89. MM – To be clear – in my area it is common for full-time employed professionals (engineers, architects, etc.) to teach 1 class per semester at one of the local universities and/or community college. It was not about the pay, but the contacts. Two of my colleagues have landed lucrative jobs this way. One by finding out a full-time professsor was needing help on a contract (the sub-contract paid a pittance), but then due to quality of the work (known due to having to place a seal on the work) was hired outright by the company. The other used this new network (required to attend certain meetings) to find out about jobs in the area and used a contact through the university to get a foot in the door.

  90. At 45, my mother moved from instruction at a local university in their administrative votech program to corporate trainer. It was a great move for her. She taught certain software packages, and was probably one the the least technical people employed in her position, but the years of teaching experience made her a good instructor.

    There is a state flagship U that offers a nights and weekends MBA with an emphasis in IT that is well respected locally. DH did that, and was one if the younger participants at 30. He wanted to shift his career trajectory from plugging in computers and it paid off well for him.

  91. Yes, we have some adjuncts who do it for the contacts, but anyone considering this think whether good contacts will be obtained that way. It really varies.

    One huge problem we have is that adjuncts who are working professionals often do not realize how much time it takes to prepare for a course – they think they can just wing it. Sometimes they end up quitting midstream because they can’t manage the time commitment, which is just horrible for everyone. More typically, they end up trying to run a course without putting in the time – meaning they don’t give assignments or don’t really grade them, and run confusing lectures. We are dealing with that right now with TWO adjuncts. The students in both classes have marched into the dean’s offic to complain.

    Of course we have great adjuncts from industry too. Often they have taught before and understand the time commitment.

    Rule of thumb: Plan on 2 to 3 hours of prep and grading for every hour in class. The IRS officially pegs it at 2.25 hours per hour in class.

  92. If I chose to teach as an adjunct, it would be after I don’t have to pay for childcare and because I don’t need a job that pays real money. The area is small enough that I think my SWE network connections are adequate for discovering what’s available locally.

    Another former colleague made the PMP point, but it’s pretty expensive and I wouldn’t make that investment until I’m sure it’s necessary and what I want to do. It’s unclear to me whether we’ll continue to live in this area long-term or not. I’m glad to hear the PMP value reiterated here.

    Finn, there are fabs in Portland, but if we move, I want to move to another state, not to Portland. Oregon has a suboptimal state tax structure for our current life stage (9% rate on all income with minimal deduction for federal taxes paid)

  93. I missed this yesterday. I quit my job with no prospects of a new one and enough to live off for 3-6 months (depending how cheap I lived) when I was in my mid-20’s. I don’t remember it being much of a debate – I did not want to stay in the area or company where I was long-term, and I was ready to make it happen. I moved states, moved in with a friend replacing her old roommate, and I had new job offers within a month. I had very little risk then as a junior person in an employable field and a good economy. I would be much more risk averse now.

  94. ” (9% rate on all income with minimal deduction for federal taxes paid)”

    Seems recursive. Deduct state income tax from fed, deduct fed from state.

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