A'igh't. I've read and received the absolute best advice (personal, professional, practical) here on FSU because so many of you have such a range of experience and intelligence. So of course I have to run all this by you.
I've been a temp in HR Records for about 7 months at the corporate headquarters of an upscale retailer. I started out doing regular admin stuff, then started taking on projects in work authorization compliancy, HR information systems, and benefits. I managed the unemployment program for store and corporate associates, managers, and distribution and call centers for a while. This is not in the same department of direct HR rep contact for employee issues, but more like the data center backbone, tied to benefits and compensation. I like the peers and managers I've worked with in all the sub-departments, and as mentioned above, they've already given me projects to lead. At this point, I'm looking at permanent positions.
My direct manager spoke with me this week to say that she's created the new position of Leave of Absence coordinator. Previously, it was split amongst three people and handled completely internally, but this new position is would be singular, as we are going to begin managing leaves with an insurance company. This would be very similar to the unemployment program I managed, but it would be starting from scratch, defining the role, and documenting processes.
But there's another position open for which the HRIS manager is heavily encouraging me to apply. It's in the field of ensuring employee data integrity, reporting, testing systems, and improving processes and efficiency for all things employee data related. It involves report and databasing software that I've only used as a "reader", but not as a "writer". It also involves strict morning reporting deadlines and some off-hour system testing work. I feel that I'm not at all qualified, that I'd have to be trained in the systems by people who have no time for training (including someone who applied for the job), and that I need more time to understand our particular business systems and business practices in general (both numbers-wise and best practices -wise). But both a project manager and the HRIS manager hinted that they really intend for me to fill the role because of what they've seen from me so far. I was even honest during chat sessions about my limited software experience (of course I'm quick to learn), but they still seem to be pushing heavily for me.
The thing is, I have no HR or technical background whatsoever, at least formally. Yes, I've been able to pick up everything they've given me across departments thus far, but I really get the impression that the second job is meant to be started right away by an experienced "technical" mind with little or no training. The first job is definitely within my comfort zone in terms of what I've done so far with the company, and my relationships with employees and managers.
Another wrench: I have a friend in a completely different department, different building across the city, more in the creative product development side. She started out in Product Information and is now in sourcing. Her first job has opened up, and having known me for years, she feels this would be a best fit for my experience and personality. She says that one would get to know the entirety of the actual product side of the company (something we in HR are not exposed to much), which of course I'm really into. I actually have an extensive publishing background, and even some experience in merchandising, buying, design, and sales for an independent fashion and accessories designer. This one seems way more up my alley, and my friend says that the fellow workers are amazing, like her family, very supportive, and after a while in that job, she was actively recruited by many other departments, not to mention that her manager was the best she's ever had.
Problems: Job #1 is "more of the same", and is on the level of the entire department, which is limited in terms of salary and upward trajectory. Sure, I was good at it, but does doing this work set me up well for the future in this company? It pays a modest amount (i.e. like an admin job), which is not great in the area I live in. But the manager is basically saying, "You've got the job, it's just a formality that I have to post it."
Job #2 is the scariest and the most foreign to me. I can't even really describe it effectively. The hard deadlines and the pressure to be accountable to many upper managers scare me because I'm inexperienced, and I'm the type to get way too perfectionistic about data and processes, even sacrificing timeliness. I almost fear that I would crash and burn in this job, but for some reason two managers are communicating subtly that I'd be their candidate over two other people (that I sit next to!) with more experience in the company and with the systems. This one pays much more than the other two, I think. But it was "scaled down" from an eliminated position where the previous person might have been "too expensive" or not a good match qualifications-wise.
Job #3: Sounds perfect, right? Problem: It's not permanent, will not be benefitted. I have more than just a passing need for benefits, and of course "total compensation" is much more important than salary. It also pays the least, dollar-wise. But it sounds like it has the most potential for growth in many other departments, is much more up my alley in terms of talent and interest. They say this temp position is intended to become full time, but there's no calendar on that. I also have no clue as to how salaries progress in this department, and of course it would be changing who I'm surrounded by entirely. I would hope that I'm not stepping on any toes or hurting anyone by switching departments - one side of me says that, hello, I've been a temp for a few months, of course I can explore; the other says that the first two managers are kinda strongly communicating that they want me to stay in the department and ... really want me to stay. The manager for Job #3 has even said, after speaking to my friend, "Sounds perfect! I won't even post the job yet! Have him write to me!"
OK, advice I've gotten so far:
- Friend who does nebulous-information-systems stuff says to go for job #2 because it's the most challenging, I'll learn the most, and it's the most lucrative.
- Therapist (of course!) says go for job #3 because in the end the other two might make me miserable since they're not where my interests lie.
- Friend who's a designer, teacher, and knows the creative corporate world very well says to go for job #1 and not even bother applying for job #3 because I'd be shooting myself in the foot.
- Friend who's an ultra-corporate-climber says go for job #2 because it's the most challenging and lucrative, but maybe #1 because I still have to establish my reputation as a full timer and I've already shown I can do it, and don't even bother with #3 because it's career suicide to jump departments from managers who really want and know you and that it'd be starting all over again.
I guess you can fill in all the blanks about what you know about companies, manager intent, compensation departments, and negotiating within a company. Everyone agrees that if #3 started as a full time job, it would be absolutely the best bet, but this is a deal breaker. I'm most drawn to #3, but I really don't want to screw myself in the company, have them never convert me to full time, and potentially throw my current good name away.
I tend not to operate or believe in the corporate-game model. I'm actually really honest and straightforward in interviews, and don't keep any cards close. So far, I've found that has gone appreciated and valued, but I can definitely see how that might set up a pattern of always getting the lowest offer and taking the most work.
I have an outline for a plan for now - tell me what you think:
- Apply formally for both job #1 and #2. There's no political backlash in that because we're really the same department and both managers are aware that I'm interested in both and that each-other is interested in me. Of course, there's a potential that I might raise the ire of two other co-workers if I get #2, but I'm not counting my chickens before they're hatched.
- Send in my resume and a "loose" letter to manager #3, but make it clear that I'd like to just chat for more information about the position first. Once I find out more, mention that I'm also looking into other positions in my current department.
- If I do end up getting any offers or more than one (and hopefully at the same time!), be honest with manager #3 that I'd really prefer that position, but the offer doesn't quite compare to the others. That might be dangerous because it could be a concrete temp position with no room for negotiation (apparently, the previous temp is going to be filling the exact same job, but permanent), but it doesn't hurt to mention it, and I can always decide to take an offer anyway even if it's disadvantageous.
Of course, all of the above with the mention that I'm definitely at a point in my life where I'd like to be a grown-up with a work-life balance and a cottage and a kitty and a garden and time and money to travel, blah blah blah. So:
#1 - Not enough compensation to afford me luxuries, but benefits. More status quo with an upgrade.
#2 - More than I've ever made, but probably the least work/life balance, most craziness.
#3 - Least compensation, no benefits, but most work/life balance, more interesting work and networking possibilities.
Now, I would not be saying all of the above without even having applied first if all three managers didn't seem to be communicating that they want me in their positions ...
AAAAACK! Thoughts? Suggestions? Chuck it all and become a zamboni driver, right?