Advice

On how to jump off a sinking ship

You never answer, but I keep asking anyway. Maybe I’m a masochist.

I’m trying to find a new job since my company is pretty close to going under. I work for a small town company owned by a big corporation that only cares about the bottom line (of course they do! they’re a corporation.)

Right after they hired me, they fired the only other reporter. It’s just me and the editor now, and we do all the work. We only publish bi-weekly and it pays shit. I can’t afford rent and groceries and my student loans. So, I’m looking for something that I can support myself on. Only problem is, most jobs want you to start ASAP, and I can’t bear to leave my editor high and dry. If I leave before they find a replacement for me, the paper will literally be unable to function and my poor editor would be stuck doing everything by herself. She already does so much, I couldn’t leave her alone like that.

But I can’t stay in this position forever. What do I do? Do I just tell them that I’m looking for a new job? I don’t have a lot of experience, and I’m afraid that if I don’t get hired somewhere else, they’ll let me go because they know I don’t want to stay anyway.

 

Clearly you don’t have a lot of experience.

Let me tell you how this works. Keep your mouth fucking shut and go find the very best, highest paying job available to you and take it immediately.

Only tell your current employer after you’ve accepted the new position and have a firm start date. Give your employer as much notice as possible, but never let giving notice take precedence over a better opportunity.

Now, I’m sure your editor is a lovely person, but you owe her nothing except courtesy. You owe your paper absolutely nothing at all, and you owe that big corporation literally less than nothing.

The paper will be able to function without you. You are not irreplaceable. Not even a little bit. If you were irreplaceable, you could demand more money, but you can’t because you’re not. Never forget that. Even if what you’re saying is true and the paper couldn’t function without you while at least still paying you a living wage, then that means it’s a sinking ship, and you’d be an idiot not to jump off as soon as possible.

Oh, and yeah. You are definitely a masochist. Maybe even a little bit of a doormat. Loyalty is important, but if your employer doesn’t take care of you, then fuck taking care of them. (And if any of this sounds harsh, remember, you’re the one without any experience.)

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7 thoughts on “On how to jump off a sinking ship

  1. Rose says:

    I went through something kind of similar with my first job.

    It was pretty good at first- good pay, benefits, experience, etc., but I ignored all the red flags. I was hired with a bunch of new, inexperienced people as a wave of older employees was leaving. A few months in they gave up an entire floor of the office because they couldn’t afford the rent. Then, they started sharing the remaining floor with another company. Soon more people were leaving, and then our paychecks started getting delayed. The phrase “sinking ship” was in the back of my head the whole time, but I chose to go down with it. I didn’t even enjoy the job that much, but I was inexperienced and afraid to go back on the job hunt. Finally the owners declared bankruptcy, and took our last month’s paychecks with them to open a new studio. I was broke and unemployed for months, but thanks to our boss and my lawyer friends, our giant corporate parent company paid us back to dodge a legal quagmire.

    Similar situations, but different reasons for the masochism, I guess. I got off easy, but I learned my lesson. Don’t be me.

  2. Gaybeard says:

    The world is a harsh fucking place. It’s impossible to avoid failure, but it’s crucial to learn to fail faster.

    My biggest life lesson was that people will gladly take advantage of you when you’re at your weakest. I spent a year being taken advantage of by employers while I was struggling to pay rent, suffering from serious mental illness, and lying to friends and family. When one of my bosses refused to pay me for a month of work I almost drowned myself in my bathtub, unconscious from drugs and champagne. (The champagne is a long story, and I had it because of a side job I did. Had to mention it though. My pseudo-suicide attempt was melodramatic enough without conjuring an image of a poor kid spending money on champagne instead of rent). What eventually woke me up was a phrase roaring its way into consciousness from the dark, sticky depths of my delusional mind: “YOU ARE MOTHERFUCKING WORTHY. YOU ARE BETTER THAN THIS AND YOU DESERVE RESPECT. YOU ARE NOT GOING TO DIE BECAUSE OF SOME TWO-BIT WANNABE MAFIOSO CHARLATAN. GET THE FUCK UP”. My life has steadily been getting better since that moment.

  3. Livvid says:

    In a similar situation. Should I not put down my current manager as a reference, at the risk of tipping her off that I’m jumping ship? She has told me that she would be more than happy to be placed as a reference for future jobs (her cellphone number, not her work number). I’m working my first full time job since graduating college and the reference process during application was very transparent — I had to use a form to directly request references, and those references filled out a questionnaire about my work ethic which was sent directly to my now employer.

    PS: My parents are both working class immigrants and I’m the first in my family to be working in the corporate world. I feel like many of the formalities, unspoken rules, best practices get so lost on me sometimes. Can anyone relate?

    • Sel says:

      Get thee to Ask A Manager (http://www.askamanager.org/). Everything I learned about resumes, cover letters, and the corporate world, I learned there.

      Regarding your current situation: if your manager has said that she’s okay being put down as a reference, and you believe her, go ahead and do it. People leave jobs all the time. A good manager knows this and knows how to deal with it professionally.

      Now, if you don’t trust your manager–if you think your manager will retaliate against you if she finds out you’re job hunting–then don’t put her down as a reference. And for the record, if you ever think a manager might retaliate against you for job hunting, then find a new job ASAP. That is not a healthy workplace.

  4. CharChar says:

    I agree with Coke’s advice for the most part here, BUT! Even if a job wants you to start “right away”, most will allow you to give a 2-week notice to your current employer, and will respect you for doing so. I hire people to staff a program that I run, and I would consider someone willing to leave their current job without giving notice to be a red flag. If they’d do that to their current employer, why wouldn’t they do the same to me when they eventually left the position I hired them for? Saying “I can start after I give notice to my current employer” makes you sound far more professional, and it also puts you in a position to get a reference from your current editor in the future (leaving her high and dry with no notice would make a reference from her in the future pretty unlikely). All that said, I agree that you owe more to yourself and your career than you do to your current job, so if giving a standard 2-week notice becomes a barrier to a better opportunity, all bets are off.

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