Thursday, April 26, 2007

Decision Time

So, I have a job offer. Well, technically I don't. I've been offered it on the phone, but the HR department have pointed out that they can't make me an offer unless I actually apply for the job, so I have an application form I need to fill in for a job I've already been interviewed for twice*. Kind of backwards, but never mind.

I suppose getting the paperwork in place gives me a bit of thinking space. By the time I get the form to them, and they generate the offer, and we have a bank holiday weekend it will be nearly 2 weeks until I need to get back to them officially. More than enough time to give it some serious thought.

I did realise something interesting though.

I believe in myself.

The things I wanted to know about going into the interviews were whether the job would stretch me enough, not whether I'd be capable of doing it. I'm more worried about whether it's what I want to do, the atmosphere in the office, whether it's the sort of company I want to work for than whether I'll struggle with the work. I have absolute, unshakeable confidence in that side of things. I never had any doubt that they would meet me and change their mind about wanting me to work for them. I knew that job was mine if I wanted it from the moment I picked up the phone.

How times change. The last time I went for a job interview was in 1999. When I say "a" job interview, I mean lots of them, weeks and weeks of interviews. I don't know whether it's still the same, but back in my day, all the law firms recruited in the first few weeks of September, two years before your start date. For two weeks solid I had an interview pretty much every day. My CV was top drawer, and I got an interview from nearly every firm I applied to. Job offers were a different matter though.

Out of all those interviews I got two offers, and both of them were from places where I'd done vacation placements. This led me to believe that I came across far better when I actually sat down and showed what I could do, than when I sat in front of an interview panel. I was probably right, put simply I had absolutely no confidence that anyone would want to employ fat, ugly me. I knew that I was clever, but I knew that I needed more than that to succeed in the workplace, and I let my doubts knock my confidence. Give me a week or two to show what I could do and I relaxed a bit, but in a 30 minute interview I was too worried about how I appeared, and whether first appearances would count against me, to be able to talk about the things I could do.

I don't want to sound like I'm slagging off my current firm, because I've had a fantastic time here, but a few months ago I was talking to a partner who interviewed me, and he made an interesting comment. "We couldn't believe that someone like you would pick us". Meaning, essentially, that I'm possibly working at a lower ranking firm for the sort of work I do than might have been expected from my CV and my ability. I agree to some extent, but the truth is that I didn't believe that I should expect anything more out of life. I was grateful to be given the opportunity despite my fatness, and I took it. Actually, it wasn't the only offer I had, but even at that stage I knew that I was willing to swop a potentially higher flying career for working somewhere where I'd actually get on with my colleagues and be able to have a life. I started making that trade off when I accepted the offer from the more relaxed firm, with the lower salary. 7 and a half years on I'm still glad I did.

It feels strange. I'd always thought of myself as loyal. There's no such thing as a job for life, but I didn't really see myself moving. But once you've made that decision that, maybe, elsewhere might be better, can you ever go back mentally, even if you don't get it? Or once those seeds of doubt are sown do they stay there until you move on? If not now, then soon. I realised that I didn't need to compare what my prospects would be if I leave compared to if I stay, I needed to compare what they'd be if I move now compared to if I move later.

I've picked up some interesting titbits from Joanne (my boss), and Neil (her husband, who works at the new place), which give me food for thought. I've also got a couple of calls to make to people who work in house elsewhere. But essentially, it's time to decide which way to jump.

*One thing that made me laugh - the first interview was a fairly informal job at a local restaurant to avoid prying eyes. I was more worried about checking the menu and deciding what to eat than I was about researching the company...


Blogger Xena said...

Good luck with that. I personally don't like change, and would have a hard time deciding to leave. It sounds like you're ready, though!

5:32 PM  
Blogger JessiferSeabs said...

I love this post.

Congratulations on the impending offer!

5:41 AM  

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