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Guilt of job switch

Fri Apr 10, 2020 2:00 pm

Reading blogs about career moves, they all say that you should put yourself first and that if you seek out another opportunity, it's because you know it'll open new doors for you...but they don't tell you how to handle the guilt that comes when you think about the hole you're leaving behind, especially if you've enjoyed the team you're working with.

Here's my story. I've been at my current position for about a year and change. I was hired as a systems engineer (requirement development and validation) but I've been placed as a software test engineer (which is within the scope of my preparation). The group I'm working with has been nothing short of pleasant. I get along with everyone, I have a nice management team, and beside compensation, which could be a bit higher, I have no other complaints...except that I've found the job to be too routine. Every day I wake up and run the same steps over and over again. There's really no sense of creative freedom (you tackle a problem by the book and not by searching for a solution). The one positive aspect is that I am the gatekeeper for our team's code: I test it and if it works, I'm the one that merges it to our baseline, and I am the only one with that privilege.

I recently came across a job posting for a systems engineering position (same program, but a different aspect); I interviewed, got an offer, and accepted. I was excited about the opportunity, but I had not told my manager yet, especially because being under a hiring freeze, I don't know how or when the transfer will happen. She called me yesterday and I could hear in her voice a tone of surprise (but the one that indicates sadness). She asked if I was unhappy with the job and I said no (which is true), but that this opportunity was definitely too good to pass up. And it all came crashing down. Started feeling guilty about putting her and the team in a bind because they're already desperate to hire testers and here I am moving to another team. It means they also have to spin up someone else to be the code gatekeeper (potentially juggling two jobs at once).

A friend suggested to cancel the transition, but even if HR were willing to do it, I feel that ship has sailed because I'd burn two bridges:
a) My current manager would be hesitant to assign new stuff for me because she knows I'm a job req away from leaving
b) The new manager wouldn't be impacted as much, but his perception of me would be severely impacted (and word of mouth among managers spreads easily, making it more difficult to move to other positions).

How do folks deal with the guilt of doing a job transfer (whether internally or to another company)? Some will say "it's a part of the corporate world", but it makes sense when what you do greatly impacts the company or when you don't enjoy your workplace.
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Re: Guilt of job switch

Fri Apr 10, 2020 2:16 pm

Just go with the new job, and tell your current manager that you will work as hard as you can for as long as you can to help the new person. You said it yourself, the new opportunity is exciting, the current one is routine. You kind of already burned the bridge with the current manager, so try to make it amicable on the departure. Never doubt the speed of HR in the future and the communication of managers.

Just remember if you are feeling too guilty that companies will never hesitate to lose you if you don't meet their requirements or bottom line. Getting a new position actually makes you more valuable to the company a a whole, even though you may suffer through a few months of being the new guy in the new department.
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Re: Guilt of job switch

Fri Apr 10, 2020 2:49 pm

The other thing you might do since it is the same company is coordinate with the new manager to time your start (if possible) to not impact your current manager. The manager, if not desperate for you and there not being a requirement, should appreciate that you think of the teams you work with and support.

Last edited by Tugger on Fri Apr 10, 2020 3:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Guilt of job switch

Fri Apr 10, 2020 2:59 pm

I had a case of this last year, and decided to stay with the current position at increased pay.

My reason was that I felt terrible about leaving previous team in lurch, which would reflect badly on me. I felt I could put them in a much better position 6 months or a year later. They did match the pay. Plus, maybe I could leapfrog the compensation sooner, if I just change jobs again the following year.

If I left, I would have felt years of my own work would have been thrown away/lost and the product quality would have had problems. It was just the wrong time. Even a 2-3 month transition would not have worked. It has been 6 months at almost 100% effort to get out.

The upside is, I have trained people to do a stabilized / matured processs, and we have a better story to tell about stability and quality of our work. The downside is that I am probably not part of their future plans, but that is OK with me.
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Re: Guilt of job switch

Fri Apr 10, 2020 3:16 pm

Put the shoe on the other foot: what if that same manager had a budget cut and had to call and tell you that you were being let go? She would feel bad but in the end she would do what was best for herself and for her company. She would not make a personal sacrifice such as her taking the lay off so you could stay. You should feel the same way, feel bad that the old team is going to have some issues but in the end do what is best for you and indeed what is best for the company, which is you doing a job you're more motivated to do and one the company feels is more important because they pay more for that job.
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Re: Guilt of job switch

Fri Apr 10, 2020 3:19 pm

Two things that my boss at my last company told me regarding employment, that have stuck with me:

1.) You have to take care of yourself, because no one else will.
2.) You're either an owner or a temp.

My takeaway from #1:
Don't pass up career opportunities, because someone else will snatch up that opportunity, and you will be forgotten. Don't worry about your current boss/coworkers having to deal with you leaving; the short-term pain of finding and training a replacement will be quickly forgotten, and while they may remember you fondly, they will move on.

My takeaway from #2:
I'm not an owner, therefore.... Ultimately I am a warm body who is paid to do a certain job. Most of us are not the very best at our job, nor the very worst - we're somewhere in the middle. That means that while we have some value, we are replaceable. Career decisions are not personal (for the most part). Remember: you don't owe anything to the company, and the company doesn't owe you anything. You're paid for the work you do, and that's that.

einsteinboricua wrote:
A friend suggested to cancel the transition

Definitely a bad idea. You accepted the job, stand by your acceptance (barring any real life-altering reason why you wouldn't be able to take it....guilt doesn't count).
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Re: Guilt of job switch

Fri Apr 10, 2020 3:20 pm

I've no experience with this but since it's the same company I feel it should be easier. It's well known to my managers that if an opportunity arises I will take it, and yes they would miss me and I have nothing against my team but my job is also too routine. The fact it's well known is actually to my detriment as some preemptive moves have been made to hinder opportunities going my way...

If/when the opportunity comes I would see if my current position/salary can be improved, but taking the offer is probably better anyway, looking around all the people with the nice jobs and salaries have jumped ship a couple of times (sometimes from my company to a competitor and back).
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Re: Guilt of job switch

Fri Apr 10, 2020 8:24 pm

Do not feel guilty about this for one minute. You worked in your current role for about 15 months. For an entry level position and a young person, this is exactly the time when folks start looking at other options. No one expected you to stay in the job for much longer than 15 months and if you did I would question your drive and ambition. As you get older, you will likely change jobs less but in the first years of your career you will likely change jobs about every 12 to 18 months. This is particular true in Tech.

The good news is you will take all of your experience testing and integrated code to your new position. This great for you and for the company. I wish all of my developers had that experience.

Previously, I worked as a manager at large US Bank. A huge part of the job is moving people, contingency planning for people and replacing people. Literally we would have calls where the whole point of the conversation is to discuss who needs a new challenge, who is available and who needs to move along.

Congratulations on your new job. Keep a positive attitude. Do good work to transition your responsibilities and tackle your new role with enthusiasm. You are doing great.

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Re: Guilt of job switch

Fri Apr 10, 2020 8:57 pm

If you do your research and a new job is a better opportunity you have to do it.. In my business you forge strong bonds with people but you can't let that matter. Do what benefits you long term and do it the right way. In the long run it's the better way to go.
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Re: Guilt of job switch

Fri Apr 10, 2020 9:26 pm

You'll still be friends with your colleagues. The only thing is that you won't see them every work day.

So just do it & move to the new job. The guilt will recede sooner or later.
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Re: Guilt of job switch

Fri Apr 10, 2020 10:14 pm

There shouldn't be any guilt.

Look at LinkedIn - you'll find a number of profiles where people change positions within a company roughly every 18-24 months. Some leave and go to new companies altogether after 2-3 years. It's not your parents' workforce where people would go to a job or a firm and stay there for 40 years. Now, some people do stumble upon the right environment and deal which works for them, so that type of work longevity isn't entirely gone.

Some companies, such as State Farm, promote internal moves and see it as a good thing. You could come in as a systems engineer and then in 3 years, find yourself on a team developing marketing collateral for agents in the field.

One thing to remember - when being asked about it for future opportunities in the future, particularly if you interview externally, and you are asked about your change in positions within the company, always use the phrase "I was invited to join the team...." and leave it there and move on.
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Re: Guilt of job switch

Fri Apr 10, 2020 10:36 pm

Guilt just means you are a good person. It's OK to be selfish when it comes to your career. Nobody going to look out for you, but yourself. The only thing I would worry about is job security. While my husband is not an engineer, he had so many jobs fall through at the last minute due to freeze on hiring, budget cuts. I would only be concerned because of this pandemic.
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Re: Guilt of job switch

Sat Apr 11, 2020 5:41 pm

Take the new gig and don't look back.
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Re: Guilt of job switch

Sat Apr 11, 2020 8:34 pm

You can still remain friends with all of these people.

Ultimately, it's your career. A career needs to be mutually beneficial to both parties. At the end of the day, you're another expense and an expense that needs to be justified.

You've already made it known that you were looking for another job so staying with them would be a poor choice if you ask me.

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