Preparing for the Future

Slowly but surely, the job search keeps rolling along. Things have definitely picked up steam over the last few months. Oddly enough, the further into the process I get, the more confident I become. You’d think rejection would have the opposite effect? Instead, I’m feeling more sure of what I do and don’t want, and more confident that I’ll find something better out there.

There are a lot of things to consider when looking for a new job. It isn’t just about the work you want to do, or even the amount of money you want to make. You need to consider the benefits package. The hours. The atmosphere. The transition from one position to the next.

I’ve had a lot of time over the past year to think about a new job. And, the more I interview, the more things I realize I need to consider. Work atmosphere has been a big consideration, since it’s one of the #1 reasons I’m looking for a new job. Basically, I don’t want to be in a “gossipy” environment. You can’t always tell what the atmosphere will be like from the interview, but I’m learning to pick up on small clues.

Hours are also a big consideration. Most of my previous work experience has involved evenings and weekends, with a fluctuating schedule. A “9-5” schedule has been one of the biggest positives of my current position. I feel lazy saying it, but I don’t want to work crazy hours anymore! I like having my evenings and weekends free to spend time with my boyfriend, and family, and work on things around the house. Also, I have an extensive background in management, but I’d prefer to stay away from a management position. I don’t mind having some management responsibilities, but I don’t want a job where my main focus is managing others. I just don’t feel like managing others is one of my strong points.

I’m hoping that my next position will involve some sort of pay increase. Benefits have been a huge consideration for me as well; I have great benefits at this job. Losing some of my benefits, such as healthcare, could end up costing me hugely.When I’m looking at a position, it’s important to compare total packages, not just the pay.

What are some of the things I’ve been thinking about?

The 401k. I have a great 401k at my current employer. They contribute 6%, whether or not I contribute anything. The investment options are great (They include Vanguard Index Funds!), and the fees are low. I was 100% vested from day 1, which means I won’t lose any of my 401k by switching jobs.

If I find a position with another company, I plan to roll my 401k into a Vanguard IRA. I could keep it in the company plan, but it seems like less of a hassle if I just moved it. I’d also move my Roth IRA (with Edward Jones) over at the same time. If the new company didn’t offer a 401k, I’d need to consider starting back up my investments in my Roth IRA.

If I find a position with one of our parent companies, I’m not sure what happens. Technically I’d be a new employee to them, so I might have to follow the policy of waiting until the start of the next quarter for contributions to begin again. Or maybe since our companies share the same benefits, one would roll into the other?

Health Insurance. I have awesome health insurance at this job: I pay $7 a week for coverage, have a very low deductible ($250/year) and out-of-pocket max ($1,250/year), and have a huge amount of provider options. If I found a position with a new company, I’d really have to consider the cost of health insurance. All of the companies I’ve interviewed with so far offer insurance. I’m not sure how it is today, with all the changes from the Affordable Care Act, but in the past most companies made you wait 90 days before you could enroll in the insurance. Just in case, I’ve already looked into the cost of “gap insurance” for 3 months. These are temporary insurance policies that you can only keep for a short period of time, that basically just offer catastrophic coverage. The limited amount of coverage makes them very affordable: It would cost around $300-500, depending on the plan, total for 3 months. I would have the option of picking up COBRA insurance, which would mean staying on my current company’s plan temporarily, but paying the full cost of coverage myself. COBRA plans are notoriously expensive, so I doubt I would want to go in that direction.

If I found a position with one of our parent companies, my insurance would stay the same. New employees are covered from day 1, so there shouldn’t be any lags in coverage.

Vacations. I currently get 3 weeks (15 days) of vacation time a year, plus 6 personal days. So far this year I’ve used almost all of my personal days, but have all 15 vacation days remaining. I haven’t really taken much time off this year, and my only plans at this time are our Disney vacation in September. We have an annual “use it or lose it” policy on vacation and personal days. However, since vacation days are considered “earned time”, if you leave the company before the end of the year, your remaining vacation time is paid out. Three weeks pay would be an awesome bonus when heading off to a new job!

All of the companies I’ve interviewed with offer some type of vacation pay, although 2 of them didn’t allow vacation for the first year. Ouch! The parent companies offer the same vacation packages as my current company. I’m not sure if I’d start over (at 10 vacation days and 6 personal days), or get to roll forward on my current status. Honestly, I’m not used to having that much time, so the difference between 2 weeks and 3 weeks isn’t a huge deal to me. I assume they wouldn’t cash out my current time if I went to work at one of the parent companies, but I’m not really sure.

At this point, I’m not really sure what the future holds. I could have a new job in the next few weeks. I could still be looking at the end of the year. The entire process has been odd, but I do feel like I’m making progress. I haven’t landed a position yet, but my most recent interviews have led to more opportunities. That isn’t a bad thing! With all the uncertainty, it makes me feel more secure knowing I have a transition plan in place, and have already thought through many of the possibilities.

– Cindy W.


  1. […] Last week I mentioned that my job search was picking up steam, and I was feeling much more confident about the process. Apparently, I spoke too soon! Just as quickly as things had started, everything came crashing to a halt. […]

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