Taking a paycut for a more stable state job (CA)?

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Topic Author
jplee3
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Taking a paycut for a more stable state job (CA)?

Post by jplee3 »

Hey all,

Wanted to get some feedback on a situation I'm facing... currently at high-paying job with a Fortune 500 company (finance/banking) and while the pay and benefits (including fulltime WFH even before COVID) have been great, there have been many changes in the past year leading to highly questionable stability of my position. This is in engineering/tech (QA) btw. I don't hate what I do but it can be boring. Aside from that, I'm growing increasingly concerned about the higher level management decisions, which will likely impact job security. There have been numerous reports of layoffs as of late which doesn't help.

Given this, is it a bad idea to jump ship *now* and try to get a job with the state where there would be *at least* a 25% paycut and possibly more depending on experience, etc? I know state jobs are generally going to offer more stability, on the flipside.
Or should I hold out for the layoffs (I'd get probably around 10 weeks of severance) and look for something after?

I've already started applying just to put the feelers out and actually have an interview for a position with the state soon. Wanted to get some feedback especially from anyone who has made the jump from private or public to state, specifically. BTW: I'm 40 and married with two kids (5 and 4). Wife is SAHM currently and we live in a HCOL area (Orange County) currently renting and trying to wait for the housing madness to blow over lol.
Marseille07
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Re: Taking a paycut for a more stable state job (CA)?

Post by Marseille07 »

My friend went from private to public and he seems to love it. Lower pay but lots of job security & a pension plan.
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baconavocado
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Re: Taking a paycut for a more stable state job (CA)?

Post by baconavocado »

Ask yourself this: would I mind working for someone who knows 1/2 what I know and makes 2X what I make? If no, then get a job in state government.
Topic Author
jplee3
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Re: Taking a paycut for a more stable state job (CA)?

Post by jplee3 »

baconavocado wrote: Wed Apr 07, 2021 1:13 am Ask yourself this: would I mind working for someone who knows 1/2 what I know and makes 2X what I make? If no, then get a job in state government.
LOL c'mon, is it really like that over there!? I guess I'll find out in the interview hahaha. My general understanding has been that it's pretty tough getting your foot in the door whether state, federal, county, city, etc. I had an opportunity to interview for a city job a while back and should have taken it. I heard the LA County jobs are highest paying and most secure (have an old coworker who got in there)

EDIT: after thinking about what you wrote again, that actually describes my current manager so I guess I wouldn't mind...LOL!
johnny
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Re: Taking a paycut for a more stable state job (CA)?

Post by johnny »

OP, have you thought about keeping your good pay at the current company, but make a change internally to a position that is more challenging and secure? In fact you may want to have a talk with your manager expressing your desire to do more and try something different. There will be time to change course later. Many tech employees make a shift to government service after 50 (when the ageism sets in).

Also, there are several good advantages to hanging on until the layoff. Severance, unused vacation compensated, and waive of vesting rules are some of those.

If you decide to stick it out, make sure you have your sources of emergency funds identified and your expenses under control. I can very much relate to the concern of being the sole earner for the family. A savings cushion will go a long way to help your nerves.
treesinthewind
Posts: 36
Joined: Tue Mar 31, 2020 9:35 am

Re: Taking a paycut for a more stable state job (CA)?

Post by treesinthewind »

Potential pros:
- Not hard to be a rock star.
- Regular hours and when you're off the clock, you're off the clock.
- Potentially interesting work in your field, lots of connections with industry.
- Very low stress. Deadlines are almost nonexistent.

Cons:
- Your colleagues will be counting down the days to their retirement. They start when they are in the thousands. Lots of people making the same or more than you, just hanging out doing nothing because of the pension. There are some passionate people as well, but you have to seek them out.
- Very infrequent raises and promotional opportunities depending on the department. If you are not in Sacramento, it is much harder to climb. Ask if you will be in a union and then call the local union rep to ask about their latest MOU and negotiations. In recent years they've gotten raises but taken them right back with much higher health care premiums.
- Very little flexibility in terms of hours. Ask what their process is for taking time off for a doctor's appointment or going to a school conference. If it is a more onerous process than you are used to, take that into consideration. But if you are someone who can show up every day from 8 to 5, no worries.
- I don't know what the pension is for new hires, but if you're not planning to be there for 20 years, do the math on your pension/health care benefits. On the plus side, you are eligible for both a 457 and 401k, so you can really sock it away.
- No money to attend conferences let alone present. It can feel isolating.
- Your seniority will likely start at 0 no matter how long you have been in industry. You *might* be able to qualify for more vacation benefits but ask right up front if they can do that. Otherwise you have two weeks vacation until you've been there 5 or maybe even 8 years. (Also see if you can be hired above range or above minimum. They *can* do it, they just don't like it. And since any raise is based on percentage, not merit, you want to go in as high as you can. Make sure you know the range; your salary will top out there until you get promoted no matter how amazing you are.)

Bottom line, if your most important goal is to bring home a steady paycheck and not have much excitement, it can be a good move, just depends on your situation.
Tribonian
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Re: Taking a paycut for a more stable state job (CA)?

Post by Tribonian »

PECG (Professional Engineers in California Government) is one of the strongest bargaining units in state service but there are limits on its efficacy. Like the Public Employee Pension Reform Act which changed pension from 2% of final compensation per year of employment at age 55 to 2% per year of $100K. So it might be challenging to work alongside someone whose retirement package is 2x yours.

Quality of life for engineers seems high where I work- they have time to coach kids’ soccer teams etc.

Feel free to pm me if you want to talk state service in general. Not an engineer, not in the O.C., did not come from private practice.

Good luck!
pindevil
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Re: Taking a paycut for a more stable state job (CA)?

Post by pindevil »

I would imagine if you are bored now, you will have the same boredom with a government job. When I had a state job they were way over staffed compared to the private gigs I've had.
JD2775
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Re: Taking a paycut for a more stable state job (CA)?

Post by JD2775 »

Your current job doesn't sound all that bad to me. I'd wait for the layoffs (if they even happen). If you think you are bored now, just wait until you get a gov't role doing what you are doing now.
Topic Author
jplee3
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Re: Taking a paycut for a more stable state job (CA)?

Post by jplee3 »

JD2775 wrote: Wed Apr 07, 2021 9:25 am Your current job doesn't sound all that bad to me. I'd wait for the layoffs (if they even happen). If you think you are bored now, just wait until you get a gov't role doing what you are doing now.
It's not the boredom that bothers me. It's the instability I've been feeling. Also the reputation of the company has really gone down the drain.
tiburblium
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Re: Taking a paycut for a more stable state job (CA)?

Post by tiburblium »

Companies have been falling over themselves to hire technical people of all levels for the past 10 years. Not only has the pay risen dramaticaly on average, but also Work life balance because employers know these staff have options. Why do you think local gov would be better/safer than tech? You might want to just look around for other companies
Californiastate
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Re: Taking a paycut for a more stable state job (CA)?

Post by Californiastate »

I've worked for private companies my whole career. The threat of a layoff has always been iminent. It's like the Cold War. You just get used to it. It's not for everybody.
Topic Author
jplee3
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Re: Taking a paycut for a more stable state job (CA)?

Post by jplee3 »

tiburblium wrote: Wed Apr 07, 2021 9:40 am Companies have been falling over themselves to hire technical people of all levels for the past 10 years. Not only has the pay risen dramaticaly on average, but also Work life balance because employers know these staff have options. Why do you think local gov would be better/safer than tech? You might want to just look around for other companies
I've applied to several tech companies - it feels harder to get noticed or a foot in the door for an interview at those places unless you're certified to the max (at least in one of the arenas I'm in: infosec). I feel like the tech companies are looking for young blood too.
Californiastate wrote: Wed Apr 07, 2021 9:46 am I've worked for private companies my whole career. The threat of a layoff has always been iminent. It's like the Cold War. You just get used to it. It's not for everybody.
I dunno, I feel like that's just another level of stress for me especially with a young family. I kinda went through this at my last job, except in that case they gave me a 1 year "heads-up" that they would be eliminating my position by the following June and there was a generous severance at the end... I often question whether I should have taken it but I got recruited into the current job with higher pay, they offered a signing bonus AND it was full-time WFH so it was sort of a no-brainer. The prior company did claw-back some tuition funds I had taken because I left just within 6 months of taking the tuition assistance (policy says if you leave within 6mos or something they can ask for it back, etc). The fact that they actually pursued that left a poor taste in my mouth.
Anyway, I was fortunate enough to have the option then to jump ship for something higher paying though... I recall being stressed out about things before that though, not knowing what I was going to do next and especially with our first newborn child being just several months old. A year is a long time but mentally, the idea of job loss just seems devastating to me... maybe it's not such a bad thing though
Last edited by jplee3 on Wed Apr 07, 2021 10:04 am, edited 3 times in total.
TheBeanCounter
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Re: Taking a paycut for a more stable state job (CA)?

Post by TheBeanCounter »

baconavocado wrote: Wed Apr 07, 2021 1:13 am Ask yourself this: would I mind working for someone who knows 1/2 what I know and makes 2X what I make? If no, then get a job in state government.
Lol
fortunefavored
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Re: Taking a paycut for a more stable state job (CA)?

Post by fortunefavored »

At 40, you'll need 20+ years to max out your pension. Are you okay with basically entry level pay (plus COLA and minor bumps) for 20-30 years and retiring at full retirement age? Projects with little urgency and a bunch of people around you barely putting in their time? No joke about people counting down the days - I know people who started counting at 10 years to go!

The fact you're in tech and "uneasy" with layoffs is somewhat remarkable at the age of 40. By 40 I had been laid off 3 times already.

There's nothing wrong with going private to public.. but you definitely need a frank assessment of your personality and if you feel it would suit you.
jerrysmith
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Re: Taking a paycut for a more stable state job (CA)?

Post by jerrysmith »

I moved to a University nearly 4 years ago and will likely never leave.
I work in infosec and could make 10-15% more in my city nearly instantly and 20% with some patience.
Not worth it. Pension, good benefits overall. Laid back gig.
jerrysmith
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Re: Taking a paycut for a more stable state job (CA)?

Post by jerrysmith »

baconavocado wrote: Wed Apr 07, 2021 1:13 am Ask yourself this: would I mind working for someone who knows 1/2 what I know and makes 2X what I make? If no, then get a job in state government.
Have you seen what CEOs make? 1/2 of what you know and 100X what you make.
Topic Author
jplee3
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Re: Taking a paycut for a more stable state job (CA)?

Post by jplee3 »

johnny wrote: Wed Apr 07, 2021 5:30 am OP, have you thought about keeping your good pay at the current company, but make a change internally to a position that is more challenging and secure? In fact you may want to have a talk with your manager expressing your desire to do more and try something different. There will be time to change course later. Many tech employees make a shift to government service after 50 (when the ageism sets in).

Also, there are several good advantages to hanging on until the layoff. Severance, unused vacation compensated, and waive of vesting rules are some of those.

If you decide to stick it out, make sure you have your sources of emergency funds identified and your expenses under control. I can very much relate to the concern of being the sole earner for the family. A savings cushion will go a long way to help your nerves.

I've applied internally to a couple positions - one, where it was going back to my former manager's team and where I would be *most* qualified, I was DQed because I put a salary above the midrange point and also because I didn't mark that I was willing to relocate. The company is shifting away from remote/telework and trying to bring employees into office locations to be co-located and this has been an ongoing effort prior to COVID. They're showing their 'eagerness' to continue pursuing this all the more "as COVID winds down." The second position just DQed me because of lack of experience. They are avoiding lateral and internal transfers likely knowing it will cost them more than looking and hiring someone willing to work for less outside. So it seems to me that they're just encouraging existing employees to leave. I don't trust my current manager to have that discussion but my former manager kept me in mind for that first position I mentioned. Technically, I'm not in "tech" but am in financial/banking just working in a tech capacity. I've been applying to tech jobs but haven't gotten many replies. But yea, if they don't lay me off, they'll try to frame it as requiring me to relocate and if I don't I'll be quitting on my own volition (not sure if companies can do stuff like this but I wouldn't put it past them)

I was actually applying for some county and city jobs but usually what I get back is "the position was filled by someone more qualified" or something along those lines.

As far as emergency funds, we should be OK. Technically we could FIRE if we moved to a LCOL or even MCOL. Kinda hard to do that right now though being in SoCal and with a young family. We were looking to buy a home around here but the housing situation is just crazy.
Last edited by jplee3 on Wed Apr 07, 2021 10:40 am, edited 2 times in total.
Topic Author
jplee3
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Re: Taking a paycut for a more stable state job (CA)?

Post by jplee3 »

fortunefavored wrote: Wed Apr 07, 2021 10:08 am At 40, you'll need 20+ years to max out your pension. Are you okay with basically entry level pay (plus COLA and minor bumps) for 20-30 years and retiring at full retirement age? Projects with little urgency and a bunch of people around you barely putting in their time? No joke about people counting down the days - I know people who started counting at 10 years to go!

The fact you're in tech and "uneasy" with layoffs is somewhat remarkable at the age of 40. By 40 I had been laid off 3 times already.

There's nothing wrong with going private to public.. but you definitely need a frank assessment of your personality and if you feel it would suit you.
I got an "early layoff notice" at my last company but many others were getting laid off on the spot. It was traumatizing, disturbing and upsetting watching my hiring manager be escorted out of the building seemingly out of nowhere. I felt so bad for him and the others who were impacted.

I've herad about that "counting down the days" mentality but is that pervasive throughout the state system and across on departments? I would think there are probably some where they actually do care (or have to care) a lot about what they do hahaha. I'm curious to get perspective from the state infosec employees... that's not a field where you want to slack off and have things go wrong.

In terms of maxing out my pension, I'm not sure if I really *need* that. We have a decent stash saved up (originally for a home downpayment but things are nuts right now). But even if we did have part of that go towards a downpayment, we'd still have a decent amount leftover to grow. So I'm wondering about the viability of going Coast or Barista FIRE with the state gig.

When you talk about "personality" what would you describe as far as the "right personality" for a state position in general?
jerrysmith wrote: Wed Apr 07, 2021 10:23 am I moved to a University nearly 4 years ago and will likely never leave.
I work in infosec and could make 10-15% more in my city nearly instantly and 20% with some patience.
Not worth it. Pension, good benefits overall. Laid back gig.
I applied to a couple positions at my local university (and where I went to school) so will see what happens there. I feel like that's definitely more a "butt in seat" kind of place currently which would probably be OK considering it would still be a local commute. I prefer WFH/Telework having gotten used to it for the past 5-6 years but if the pay is decent then I wouldn't mind the commute either I guess.
rich126
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Re: Taking a paycut for a more stable state job (CA)?

Post by rich126 »

I've gone back and forth on this several times. I've left safe federal government jobs twice (15 and 6.5 yrs) and have an offer to go back now.

In your field (QA), I think job stability isn't usually very good. I know where I worked previously QA and CM folks tended to disappear (along with mid-manager jobs) anytime business slowed down and were very slow to be rehired. Due to that, I'd definitely lean towards a more stable and secure job, especially with a family.

There isn't anything that prevents you from going to a government job, deciding you don't want to do it and then eventually leaving for private industry. Getting government jobs can often be a lengthy process and often difficult depending on your skill set.

In my case I'm weighing pay differences, job security, leave, slight boost in pension, location, etc. and it is a tough choice. For me job security isn't as important since I'm nearing retirement age so I'm not looking for another 10+ years but instead anything from 2-4 years.
fatherjames
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Re: Taking a paycut for a more stable state job (CA)?

Post by fatherjames »

Job security and a pension....yes please. I work for a giant telecom and we are virtualizing the entire network. I would say a 4 to 1 reduction in required manpower is in the future.

I have friends that work for the state I live in. They are very intelligent and advancing in their careers. I think state jobs get a bad rap. There is no shortage of slackers in megacorp either LOL.

Good luck!
oldfatguy
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Re: Taking a paycut for a more stable state job (CA)?

Post by oldfatguy »

treesinthewind wrote: Wed Apr 07, 2021 8:27 am Potential pros:
- Not hard to be a rock star.
- Regular hours and when you're off the clock, you're off the clock.
- Potentially interesting work in your field, lots of connections with industry.
- Very low stress. Deadlines are almost nonexistent.

Cons:
- Your colleagues will be counting down the days to their retirement. They start when they are in the thousands. Lots of people making the same or more than you, just hanging out doing nothing because of the pension. There are some passionate people as well, but you have to seek them out.
- Very infrequent raises and promotional opportunities depending on the department. If you are not in Sacramento, it is much harder to climb. Ask if you will be in a union and then call the local union rep to ask about their latest MOU and negotiations. In recent years they've gotten raises but taken them right back with much higher health care premiums.
- Very little flexibility in terms of hours. Ask what their process is for taking time off for a doctor's appointment or going to a school conference. If it is a more onerous process than you are used to, take that into consideration. But if you are someone who can show up every day from 8 to 5, no worries.
- I don't know what the pension is for new hires, but if you're not planning to be there for 20 years, do the math on your pension/health care benefits. On the plus side, you are eligible for both a 457 and 401k, so you can really sock it away.
- No money to attend conferences let alone present. It can feel isolating.
- Your seniority will likely start at 0 no matter how long you have been in industry. You *might* be able to qualify for more vacation benefits but ask right up front if they can do that. Otherwise you have two weeks vacation until you've been there 5 or maybe even 8 years. (Also see if you can be hired above range or above minimum. They *can* do it, they just don't like it. And since any raise is based on percentage, not merit, you want to go in as high as you can. Make sure you know the range; your salary will top out there until you get promoted no matter how amazing you are.)

Bottom line, if your most important goal is to bring home a steady paycheck and not have much excitement, it can be a good move, just depends on your situation.
I don't know what kind of state job you have, but mine certainly does not resemble most of your list.
johnny
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Re: Taking a paycut for a more stable state job (CA)?

Post by johnny »

jplee3 wrote: Wed Apr 07, 2021 10:26 am
johnny wrote: Wed Apr 07, 2021 5:30 am OP, have you thought about keeping your good pay at the current company, but make a change internally to a position that is more challenging and secure? In fact you may want to have a talk with your manager expressing your desire to do more and try something different. There will be time to change course later. Many tech employees make a shift to government service after 50 (when the ageism sets in).

Also, there are several good advantages to hanging on until the layoff. Severance, unused vacation compensated, and waive of vesting rules are some of those.

If you decide to stick it out, make sure you have your sources of emergency funds identified and your expenses under control. I can very much relate to the concern of being the sole earner for the family. A savings cushion will go a long way to help your nerves.

I've applied internally to a couple positions - one, where it was going back to my former manager's team and where I would be *most* qualified, I was DQed because I put a salary above the midrange point and also because I didn't mark that I was willing to relocate. The company is shifting away from remote/telework and trying to bring employees into office locations to be co-located and this has been an ongoing effort prior to COVID. They're showing their 'eagerness' to continue pursuing this all the more "as COVID winds down." The second position just DQed me because of lack of experience. They are avoiding lateral and internal transfers likely knowing it will cost them more than looking and hiring someone willing to work for less outside. So it seems to me that they're just encouraging existing employees to leave. I don't trust my current manager to have that discussion but my former manager kept me in mind for that first position I mentioned. Technically, I'm not in "tech" but am in financial/banking just working in a tech capacity. I've been applying to tech jobs but haven't gotten many replies. But yea, if they don't lay me off, they'll try to frame it as requiring me to relocate and if I don't I'll be quitting on my own volition (not sure if companies can do stuff like this but I wouldn't put it past them)

I was actually applying for some county and city jobs but usually what I get back is "the position was filled by someone more qualified" or something along those lines.

As far as emergency funds, we should be OK. Technically we could FIRE if we moved to a LCOL or even MCOL. Kinda hard to do that right now though being in SoCal and with a young family. We were looking to buy a home around here but the housing situation is just crazy.
Sounds like this is more of an organizational thing than your personal job situation. In which case it probably does make sense to get out. The job market is definitely starting to open up, so now is a good time to look. Glad to hear that you're feeling pretty stable financially, and good luck with the next steps!
JD2775
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Re: Taking a paycut for a more stable state job (CA)?

Post by JD2775 »

I just noticed you are in QA. So am I. Not really related but make sure your skills are staying up to date. Where I am the people who program/do automated testing are far less likely to be laid off (and far more likely to get employed elsewhere) than those who are just doing manual testing.
bogledogle
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Re: Taking a paycut for a more stable state job (CA)?

Post by bogledogle »

jplee3 wrote: Wed Apr 07, 2021 9:35 am
JD2775 wrote: Wed Apr 07, 2021 9:25 am Your current job doesn't sound all that bad to me. I'd wait for the layoffs (if they even happen). If you think you are bored now, just wait until you get a gov't role doing what you are doing now.
It's not the boredom that bothers me. It's the instability I've been feeling. Also the reputation of the company has really gone down the drain.
1) Don't associate yourself with your company's reputation.
2) All tech jobs have layoff risk at some point, so why not wait until you get severance and then look for the state job?
Topic Author
jplee3
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Re: Taking a paycut for a more stable state job (CA)?

Post by jplee3 »

JD2775 wrote: Wed Apr 07, 2021 11:06 am I just noticed you are in QA. So am I. Not really related but make sure your skills are staying up to date. Where I am the people who program/do automated testing are far less likely to be laid off (and far more likely to get employed elsewhere) than those who are just doing manual testing.
Yea, that's part of the problem. The boredom has led to a plateauing of skillset. QA and even infosec aren't things I'm super interested in but I'll do them for the paycheck. Most of what I do is manual testing but there are some 'initiatives' in place to start forcing us to learn and pickup Selenium, Eclipse/Maven/TestNG and Java. I was doing more automation at the last job but it wasn't hardcore coding by any means. There was a framework in place and I just had to write simple tests to conform to it to be able to launch tests etc. Coming up with stuff from scratch (in terms of programming/coding) is not one of my strengths.

bogledogle wrote: Wed Apr 07, 2021 11:07 am 1) Don't associate yourself with your company's reputation.
2) All tech jobs have layoff risk at some point, so why not wait until you get severance and then look for the state job?
It's kind of hard not to associate myself - I can't help but think many recruiters/companies are seeing the company name on the resume and are turned off by it.

The main reason for getting out now vs waiting is having to put up with my immediate manager and her antics.
Emotionally she's not very stable and tends to project on us (sometimes randomly picking on people) in her meetings. She's passive aggressive and if you don't respond to her the way she wants you to, she'll kind of 'target' you on the call. She provides very little to no direction about what she wants us to do (part of it is the nature of the group and the roles comprising it - it's kind of a mixed bag of low level tech (engineers) and high level tech (business system consultants/analysts) and it seems like the engineers are the afterthought for her.
I can keep my head down and just bury myself in as much technical work as possible - and the only reason this is possible is because we still work very closely with my prior manager's team, testing the app we've always tested.
It's just a weird place to be in right now.
Last edited by jplee3 on Wed Apr 07, 2021 11:19 am, edited 1 time in total.
fortunefavored
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Re: Taking a paycut for a more stable state job (CA)?

Post by fortunefavored »

jplee3 wrote: Wed Apr 07, 2021 10:34 am
fortunefavored wrote: Wed Apr 07, 2021 10:08 am At 40, you'll need 20+ years to max out your pension. Are you okay with basically entry level pay (plus COLA and minor bumps) for 20-30 years and retiring at full retirement age? Projects with little urgency and a bunch of people around you barely putting in their time? No joke about people counting down the days - I know people who started counting at 10 years to go!

The fact you're in tech and "uneasy" with layoffs is somewhat remarkable at the age of 40. By 40 I had been laid off 3 times already.

There's nothing wrong with going private to public.. but you definitely need a frank assessment of your personality and if you feel it would suit you.
I got an "early layoff notice" at my last company but many others were getting laid off on the spot. It was traumatizing, disturbing and upsetting watching my hiring manager be escorted out of the building seemingly out of nowhere. I felt so bad for him and the others who were impacted.

I've herad about that "counting down the days" mentality but is that pervasive throughout the state system and across on departments? I would think there are probably some where they actually do care (or have to care) a lot about what they do hahaha. I'm curious to get perspective from the state infosec employees... that's not a field where you want to slack off and have things go wrong.

In terms of maxing out my pension, I'm not sure if I really *need* that. We have a decent stash saved up (originally for a home downpayment but things are nuts right now). But even if we did have part of that go towards a downpayment, we'd still have a decent amount leftover to grow. So I'm wondering about the viability of going Coast or Barista FIRE with the state gig.

When you talk about "personality" what would you describe as far as the "right personality" for a state position in general?
jerrysmith wrote: Wed Apr 07, 2021 10:23 am I moved to a University nearly 4 years ago and will likely never leave.
I work in infosec and could make 10-15% more in my city nearly instantly and 20% with some patience.
Not worth it. Pension, good benefits overall. Laid back gig.
I applied to a couple positions at my local university (and where I went to school) so will see what happens there. I feel like that's definitely more a "butt in seat" kind of place currently which would probably be OK considering it would still be a local commute. I prefer WFH/Telework having gotten used to it for the past 5-6 years but if the pay is decent then I wouldn't mind the commute either I guess.
The fact you aren't counting on the pension I think makes it more of a thing you can seriously look at. Many people get 5 years into a government job, realize they hate it, but then they feel stuck due to the pension. In my opinion, almost every government department has floaters/pension-watchers. I'm sure some are better than others, but definitely any union shop will have a bunch (and most state/local government jobs are union.)

Personality-wise, hopefully other people can chime in (my experience is close relatives & friends working public jobs of various sorts - city, county, state.. I never did.) But I'd say those that are happiest:

1) Happy to show up, happy to go home. The work is almost irrelevant. Their work may change randomly due to politics or budget changes, but they're fine with whatever the work is.
2) Happy to be on a predictable salary & promotion cycle. They know they will never advance significantly, and they're all okay with that.
3) Happy to be part of a union and all that implies (seniority rules, competence doesn't.) - they especially like this once they're a decade plus in. That's when that real feeling of security kicks in and they can realllllllly slow down.
4) Happy with a rigid (although generous) schedule - they nearly all work 8 to 5 PM in a physical office, rigid accounting of sick & vacation days and they typically use them all. None of my acquaintances had any such concept as WFH pre-covid.
TheHiker
Posts: 31
Joined: Fri Feb 05, 2021 9:34 pm

Re: Taking a paycut for a more stable state job (CA)?

Post by TheHiker »

If your primary concern is the company management, why not join a different company for a pay increase?
It is easier and less stressful to look for a new job when you are employed than when you are laid off.
Of course, there is no guarantee that the new company job will offer more stability.
JD2775
Posts: 873
Joined: Thu Jul 09, 2015 10:47 pm

Re: Taking a paycut for a more stable state job (CA)?

Post by JD2775 »

jplee3 wrote: Wed Apr 07, 2021 11:13 am
JD2775 wrote: Wed Apr 07, 2021 11:06 am I just noticed you are in QA. So am I. Not really related but make sure your skills are staying up to date. Where I am the people who program/do automated testing are far less likely to be laid off (and far more likely to get employed elsewhere) than those who are just doing manual testing.
Yea, that's part of the problem. The boredom has led to a plateauing of skillset. QA and even infosec aren't things I'm super interested in but I'll do them for the paycheck. Most of what I do is manual testing but there are some 'initiatives' in place to start forcing us to learn and pickup Selenium, Eclipse/Maven/TestNG and Java. I was doing more automation at the last job but it wasn't hardcore coding by any means. There was a framework in place and I just had to write simple tests to conform to it to be able to launch tests etc. Coming up with stuff from scratch (in terms of programming/coding) is not one of my strengths.
Yea, for sure get involved where you can (if you plan on staying in QA) and pick up these skills. Selenium is a big one, we use that with .NET/C# for our UI testing. It is a skill that is highly transferable to other jobs once you get good at it. Before you can really pick it up though it would be worthwhile to pick up the fundamentals at least in programming in general. You could pick any language you want, but since it sounds like your company is leaning towards Java I may start there. I know it can be difficult at first, I didn't start learning this stuff until my late 30's. It takes time but it's worth it. I rarely ever see job postings anymore for manual testers like I did, say 5-10 years ago.
Topic Author
jplee3
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Re: Taking a paycut for a more stable state job (CA)?

Post by jplee3 »

TheHiker wrote: Wed Apr 07, 2021 11:19 am If your primary concern is the company management, why not join a different company for a pay increase?
It is easier and less stressful to look for a new job when you are employed than when you are laid off.
Of course, there is no guarantee that the new company job will offer more stability.
I feel like it has been harder getting a foot in the door with private/public companies these days. Could be the reputation/association I have with the current place where it's a turn-off to recruiters and hiring managers... who knows.

One of my biggest drivers for going state/federal though is really the job stability aspect - though I've never personally experienced it I just dread the idea of being laid off for some reason. I think more of it has to do with the fact that I have a young family and my wife is a SAHM. Although, we've been talking and both agreed that she's probably going to have to ramp herself up to re-enter the workforce even part time if I make this change and once the kids are in school for the better part of the day.
rjbraun
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Re: Taking a paycut for a more stable state job (CA)?

Post by rjbraun »

I would encourage OP to go on interviews for state jobs and see what they think. Even if all CA state jobs may have similarities, an office and given position may vary -- sometimes significantly so. I think it's hard to generalize too much.

I have a state job now (not CA) after many years in the private sector. I agree with some but not all of the comments by others about how public vs private jobs may differ. It's hard to generalize, in my opinion. I suppose if one's goal is to make a lot of money (mid-six figures and up) it's better to stay in the private sector. I got paid much more in previous jobs and am happy to have the larger savings now. But it came at a price (job insecurity, longer hours, greater stress), though I also think there were interesting aspects to the work, in addition to just making more money. While I'm pretty sure that I am ahead financially as a result, had I started in the public sector sooner my retirement benefits would be more favorable than what was in place when I joined. Still, no regrets.

Good luck to OP.

Eta: If the pay differential is 25% or so, the state job may not be much of a pay cut, depending on hours worked and other benefits (time off, health insurance cost, pension, retiree health insurance, etc.). After taxes, it is probably even less.
systemr
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Re: Taking a paycut for a more stable state job (CA)?

Post by systemr »

My first job out of college was as a "tech" consultant (yea I know it sucks but what do you know at 22) and my first project was working for the state of CA up in Sacramento on a large ERP implementation (horrible).

The state employees would show up early (5-6am) and leave early for their 8 hour work days, I'm pretty sure before people got in the office at normal hours they just sat there doing nothing. I'd categorize it as a retirement job, there's no rewards for working hard and it shows.
Normchad
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Joined: Thu Mar 03, 2011 7:20 am

Re: Taking a paycut for a more stable state job (CA)?

Post by Normchad »

I’m not a fan of people taking pay cuts. And I also think job stability, or the promise of it, is over rated.

A lot of times people don’t just lose their jobs, they leave voluntarily. So how important was the stability?

I think if you take a pay cut, you are permanently sett8mg yourself back. Your earnings growth will be less steep at the new place. When you switch jobs, you want to get a bump in pay. So it’s good to get a bump based on a higher number rather than a lower one.

If you’re worried about your current situation, by all means, start looking for a new job. But look for a better one, not a worse one.
calwatch
Posts: 119
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Re: Taking a paycut for a more stable state job (CA)?

Post by calwatch »

Every agency is different and has different work cultures so it's worth an interview. Some are more go-getting private sector based and innovative, while others are less comfortable with change and more bureaucratic.

On the benefit/pension side, one aspect not mentioned is reciprocity. You could work in the state and move to other public sector jobs in the state and still have your pension calculated based on your final three years' salary, provided that you don't overlap and your gap between jobs is no more than six months. Most small cities are also members of CalPERS but some aren't. Most of the big counties are on their own retirement system. https://www.calpers.ca.gov/docs/forms-p ... ystems.pdf

While the State of California pays into Social Security most local and county governments don't. Given that you don't have 30 years of substantial income, but the years of substantial income are not negligible, this is something to keep in mind. The State has an option to pay less into a pension with an optional "second tier" bu most people do better staying with the normal "first tier" and having a larger guaranteed benefit.
bltn
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Re: Taking a paycut for a more stable state job (CA)?

Post by bltn »

fortunefavored wrote: Wed Apr 07, 2021 11:14 am
jplee3 wrote: Wed Apr 07, 2021 10:34 am
fortunefavored wrote: Wed Apr 07, 2021 10:08 am At 40, you'll need 20+ years to max out your pension. Are you okay with basically entry level pay (plus COLA and minor bumps) for 20-30 years and retiring at full retirement age? Projects with little urgency and a bunch of people around you barely putting in their time? No joke about people counting down the days - I know people who started counting at 10 years to go!

The fact you're in tech and "uneasy" with layoffs is somewhat remarkable at the age of 40. By 40 I had been laid off 3 times already.

There's nothing wrong with going private to public.. but you definitely need a frank assessment of your personality and if you feel it would suit you.
I got an "early layoff notice" at my last company but many others were getting laid off on the spot. It was traumatizing, disturbing and upsetting watching my hiring manager be escorted out of the building seemingly out of nowhere. I felt so bad for him and the others who were impacted.

I've herad about that "counting down the days" mentality but is that pervasive throughout the state system and across on departments? I would think there are probably some where they actually do care (or have to care) a lot about what they do hahaha. I'm curious to get perspective from the state infosec employees... that's not a field where you want to slack off and have things go wrong.

In terms of maxing out my pension, I'm not sure if I really *need* that. We have a decent stash saved up (originally for a home downpayment but things are nuts right now). But even if we did have part of that go towards a downpayment, we'd still have a decent amount leftover to grow. So I'm wondering about the viability of going Coast or Barista FIRE with the state gig.

When you talk about "personality" what would you describe as far as the "right personality" for a state position in general?
jerrysmith wrote: Wed Apr 07, 2021 10:23 am I moved to a University nearly 4 years ago and will likely never leave.
I work in infosec and could make 10-15% more in my city nearly instantly and 20% with some patience.
Not worth it. Pension, good benefits overall. Laid back gig.
I applied to a couple positions at my local university (and where I went to school) so will see what happens there. I feel like that's definitely more a "butt in seat" kind of place currently which would probably be OK considering it would still be a local commute. I prefer WFH/Telework having gotten used to it for the past 5-6 years but if the pay is decent then I wouldn't mind the commute either I guess.
The fact you aren't counting on the pension I think makes it more of a thing you can seriously look at. Many people get 5 years into a government job, realize they hate it, but then they feel stuck due to the pension. In my opinion, almost every government department has floaters/pension-watchers. I'm sure some are better than others, but definitely any union shop will have a bunch (and most state/local government jobs are union.)

Personality-wise, hopefully other people can chime in (my experience is close relatives & friends working public jobs of various sorts - city, county, state.. I never did.) But I'd say those that are happiest:

1) Happy to show up, happy to go home. The work is almost irrelevant. Their work may change randomly due to politics or budget changes, but they're fine with whatever the work is.
2) Happy to be on a predictable salary & promotion cycle. They know they will never advance significantly, and they're all okay with that.
3) Happy to be part of a union and all that implies (seniority rules, competence doesn't.) - they especially like this once they're a decade plus in. That's when that real feeling of security kicks in and they can realllllllly slow down.
4) Happy with a rigid (although generous) schedule - they nearly all work 8 to 5 PM in a physical office, rigid accounting of sick & vacation days and they typically use them all. None of my acquaintances had any such concept as WFH pre-covid.
This makes government work sound pretty easy. No encouragement or reward for productivity. Just show up. If one tends to get bored with their work, this description sounds particularly hazardous.

When I was 40 years old, I was looking to maximize income. A 25% pay cut with only cola raises in my future would have been unthinkable. I didn t have total job security, though. Compensation was based on performance and work accomplished. Some stress was involved, but it was accepted as part of the job.
bltn
Posts: 1089
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Re: Taking a paycut for a more stable state job (CA)?

Post by bltn »

Normchad wrote: Wed Apr 07, 2021 12:22 pm I’m not a fan of people taking pay cuts. And I also think job stability, or the promise of it, is over rated.

A lot of times people don’t just lose their jobs, they leave voluntarily. So how important was the stability?

I think if you take a pay cut, you are permanently sett8mg yourself back. Your earnings growth will be less steep at the new place. When you switch jobs, you want to get a bump in pay. So it’s good to get a bump based on a higher number rather than a lower one.

If you’re worried about your current situation, by all means, start looking for a new job. But look for a better one, not a worse one.
Good advice.
Topic Author
jplee3
Posts: 156
Joined: Thu Nov 13, 2014 9:15 pm

Re: Taking a paycut for a more stable state job (CA)?

Post by jplee3 »

Normchad wrote: Wed Apr 07, 2021 12:22 pm I’m not a fan of people taking pay cuts. And I also think job stability, or the promise of it, is over rated.

A lot of times people don’t just lose their jobs, they leave voluntarily. So how important was the stability?

I think if you take a pay cut, you are permanently sett8mg yourself back. Your earnings growth will be less steep at the new place. When you switch jobs, you want to get a bump in pay. So it’s good to get a bump based on a higher number rather than a lower one.

If you’re worried about your current situation, by all means, start looking for a new job. But look for a better one, not a worse one.
What has triggered this is my current company going through multiple rounds of lay-offs (while my immediate group hasn't been impacted there has been a high amount of attrition so it seems those ppl saw writing on the wall) in addition to my previous job actually giving me "advance notice of termination" - so true, I didn't just lose my job, I left voluntarily. But if you put it in that context, I left because I was going to be out of a job if I stayed around right? When I met with the director of QA to tell her I was taking another position, she was trying to convince me to think about staying because even with the advance notice of termination, she was implying that nobody knows what it will actually be like a year from now and I could land in a permanent spot there. That wasn't a risk I was willing to take. On the other hand, the job I went into (current job) was for higher pay, so I guess it's different in that sense. If I were having to consider a job(s) for less pay, in that situation, I may have kept looking until finding something that paid more.

BUT.... my current concern is that I feel like I've hit a ceiling in my personal development. Without additional training, education, or somehow getting into mgmt (which probably still requires training and or education), I don't think I can realistically make more or find a much better job even if I looked in the private sector. The demands are too high and my skillset has lagged and based on what I've heard about my current company, they have a track record of being 'generous' and overpaying employees. Honestly, as a QA person who doesn't do much if any automated testing, what I'm getting paid now is somewhat of a rarity.

Also, if I were to take a state job that paid less and then wanted to get back into the private sector, how hard is it? Regarding salary, how is it that you'd permanently be setting yourself back? A lot of places in private will ask what your salary requirements are and *usually* it's commensurate to experience no? Or were you talking about "permanently setting yourself back" in the context of staying in the state job system? Just because of the low turnover rate and availability of higher level positions the chances of applying for the 'next level' job and getting it are bleak?
oldfatguy
Posts: 870
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Re: Taking a paycut for a more stable state job (CA)?

Post by oldfatguy »

fortunefavored wrote: Wed Apr 07, 2021 11:14 am
Personality-wise, hopefully other people can chime in (my experience is close relatives & friends working public jobs of various sorts - city, county, state.. I never did.) But I'd say those that are happiest:

1) Happy to show up, happy to go home. The work is almost irrelevant. Their work may change randomly due to politics or budget changes, but they're fine with whatever the work is.
2) Happy to be on a predictable salary & promotion cycle. They know they will never advance significantly, and they're all okay with that.
3) Happy to be part of a union and all that implies (seniority rules, competence doesn't.) - they especially like this once they're a decade plus in. That's when that real feeling of security kicks in and they can realllllllly slow down.
4) Happy with a rigid (although generous) schedule - they nearly all work 8 to 5 PM in a physical office, rigid accounting of sick & vacation days and they typically use them all. None of my acquaintances had any such concept as WFH pre-covid.
I've worked in state agencies for over 20 years, and in 2 different states, and this list doesn't describe any of the people or work environments I am familiar with.
Normchad
Posts: 2189
Joined: Thu Mar 03, 2011 7:20 am

Re: Taking a paycut for a more stable state job (CA)?

Post by Normchad »

jplee3 wrote: Wed Apr 07, 2021 12:52 pm
Normchad wrote: Wed Apr 07, 2021 12:22 pm I’m not a fan of people taking pay cuts. And I also think job stability, or the promise of it, is over rated.

A lot of times people don’t just lose their jobs, they leave voluntarily. So how important was the stability?

I think if you take a pay cut, you are permanently sett8mg yourself back. Your earnings growth will be less steep at the new place. When you switch jobs, you want to get a bump in pay. So it’s good to get a bump based on a higher number rather than a lower one.

If you’re worried about your current situation, by all means, start looking for a new job. But look for a better one, not a worse one.
What has triggered this is my current company going through multiple rounds of lay-offs (while my immediate group hasn't been impacted there has been a high amount of attrition so it seems those ppl saw writing on the wall) in addition to my previous job actually giving me "advance notice of termination" - so true, I didn't just lose my job, I left voluntarily. But if you put it in that context, I left because I was going to be out of a job if I stayed around right? When I met with the director of QA to tell her I was taking another position, she was trying to convince me to think about staying because even with the advance notice of termination, she was implying that nobody knows what it will actually be like a year from now and I could land in a permanent spot there. That wasn't a risk I was willing to take. On the other hand, the job I went into (current job) was for higher pay, so I guess it's different in that sense. If I were having to consider a job(s) for less pay, in that situation, I may have kept looking until finding something that paid more.

BUT.... my current concern is that I feel like I've hit a ceiling in my personal development. Without additional training, education, or somehow getting into mgmt (which probably still requires training and or education), I don't think I can realistically make more or find a much better job even if I looked in the private sector. The demands are too high and my skillset has lagged and based on what I've heard about my current company, they have a track record of being 'generous' and overpaying employees. Honestly, as a QA person who doesn't do much if any automated testing, what I'm getting paid now is somewhat of a rarity.

Also, if I were to take a state job that paid less and then wanted to get back into the private sector, how hard is it? Regarding salary, how is it that you'd permanently be setting yourself back? A lot of places in private will ask what your salary requirements are and *usually* it's commensurate to experience no? Or were you talking about "permanently setting yourself back" in the context of staying in the state job system? Just because of the low turnover rate and availability of higher level positions the chances of applying for the 'next level' job and getting it are bleak?
There is a stigma with taking a state job. It will make it harder for you to jump back later.

And because it’s a state job, any offers you get will likely be lower. They’ll be lower because you are a less desirable candidate.

And the offers will be less because they know you work for the state, and they know that they don’t have to offer as much to get you to jump.
Last edited by Normchad on Wed Apr 07, 2021 2:07 pm, edited 1 time in total.
oldfatguy
Posts: 870
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Re: Taking a paycut for a more stable state job (CA)?

Post by oldfatguy »

jplee3 wrote: Wed Apr 07, 2021 11:13 am
The main reason for getting out now vs waiting is having to put up with my immediate manager and her antics.
Emotionally she's not very stable and tends to project on us (sometimes randomly picking on people) in her meetings. She's passive aggressive and if you don't respond to her the way she wants you to, she'll kind of 'target' you on the call.
You'll find no shortage of despicable managers in both public and private sectors.
fortunefavored
Posts: 269
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Re: Taking a paycut for a more stable state job (CA)?

Post by fortunefavored »

oldfatguy wrote: Wed Apr 07, 2021 1:52 pm
fortunefavored wrote: Wed Apr 07, 2021 11:14 am
Personality-wise, hopefully other people can chime in (my experience is close relatives & friends working public jobs of various sorts - city, county, state.. I never did.) But I'd say those that are happiest:

1) Happy to show up, happy to go home. The work is almost irrelevant. Their work may change randomly due to politics or budget changes, but they're fine with whatever the work is.
2) Happy to be on a predictable salary & promotion cycle. They know they will never advance significantly, and they're all okay with that.
3) Happy to be part of a union and all that implies (seniority rules, competence doesn't.) - they especially like this once they're a decade plus in. That's when that real feeling of security kicks in and they can realllllllly slow down.
4) Happy with a rigid (although generous) schedule - they nearly all work 8 to 5 PM in a physical office, rigid accounting of sick & vacation days and they typically use them all. None of my acquaintances had any such concept as WFH pre-covid.
I've worked in state agencies for over 20 years, and in 2 different states, and this list doesn't describe any of the people or work environments I am familiar with.
Can you add the attributes that you do see for those you've worked with who were particularly happy?

The list of "reasons people hate it" are much longer - note all the people I know are worker bees, they are not leaders or management. Examples: computer support for a school district, processing special ed paperwork for a county, administration work in a city planning department, DBA for a state agency.
Topic Author
jplee3
Posts: 156
Joined: Thu Nov 13, 2014 9:15 pm

Re: Taking a paycut for a more stable state job (CA)?

Post by jplee3 »

oldfatguy wrote: Wed Apr 07, 2021 2:04 pm
jplee3 wrote: Wed Apr 07, 2021 11:13 am
The main reason for getting out now vs waiting is having to put up with my immediate manager and her antics.
Emotionally she's not very stable and tends to project on us (sometimes randomly picking on people) in her meetings. She's passive aggressive and if you don't respond to her the way she wants you to, she'll kind of 'target' you on the call.
You'll find no shortage of despicable managers in both public and private sectors.

This is true. You can get into a really good situation and have it flipped on you due to varying circumstances. This is what happened at the current job.
Topic Author
jplee3
Posts: 156
Joined: Thu Nov 13, 2014 9:15 pm

Re: Taking a paycut for a more stable state job (CA)?

Post by jplee3 »

Normchad wrote: Wed Apr 07, 2021 2:01 pm
jplee3 wrote: Wed Apr 07, 2021 12:52 pm
Normchad wrote: Wed Apr 07, 2021 12:22 pm I’m not a fan of people taking pay cuts. And I also think job stability, or the promise of it, is over rated.

A lot of times people don’t just lose their jobs, they leave voluntarily. So how important was the stability?

I think if you take a pay cut, you are permanently sett8mg yourself back. Your earnings growth will be less steep at the new place. When you switch jobs, you want to get a bump in pay. So it’s good to get a bump based on a higher number rather than a lower one.

If you’re worried about your current situation, by all means, start looking for a new job. But look for a better one, not a worse one.
What has triggered this is my current company going through multiple rounds of lay-offs (while my immediate group hasn't been impacted there has been a high amount of attrition so it seems those ppl saw writing on the wall) in addition to my previous job actually giving me "advance notice of termination" - so true, I didn't just lose my job, I left voluntarily. But if you put it in that context, I left because I was going to be out of a job if I stayed around right? When I met with the director of QA to tell her I was taking another position, she was trying to convince me to think about staying because even with the advance notice of termination, she was implying that nobody knows what it will actually be like a year from now and I could land in a permanent spot there. That wasn't a risk I was willing to take. On the other hand, the job I went into (current job) was for higher pay, so I guess it's different in that sense. If I were having to consider a job(s) for less pay, in that situation, I may have kept looking until finding something that paid more.

BUT.... my current concern is that I feel like I've hit a ceiling in my personal development. Without additional training, education, or somehow getting into mgmt (which probably still requires training and or education), I don't think I can realistically make more or find a much better job even if I looked in the private sector. The demands are too high and my skillset has lagged and based on what I've heard about my current company, they have a track record of being 'generous' and overpaying employees. Honestly, as a QA person who doesn't do much if any automated testing, what I'm getting paid now is somewhat of a rarity.

Also, if I were to take a state job that paid less and then wanted to get back into the private sector, how hard is it? Regarding salary, how is it that you'd permanently be setting yourself back? A lot of places in private will ask what your salary requirements are and *usually* it's commensurate to experience no? Or were you talking about "permanently setting yourself back" in the context of staying in the state job system? Just because of the low turnover rate and availability of higher level positions the chances of applying for the 'next level' job and getting it are bleak?
There is a stigma with taking a state job. It will make it harder for you to jump back later.

And because it’s a state job, any offers you get will likely be lower. They’ll be lower because you are a less desirable candidate.

And the offers will be less because they know you work for the state, and they know that they don’t have to offer as much to get you to jump.
Is this just from what you've heard from others, and on a consistent basis? And is this for *any and all* positions with the state?

How you describe being a less desirable candidate is how I currently feel trying to get out of the company I'm at. I think there's stigma having the association. On top of that, because my skillset isn't "up-to-date" it would be difficult finding anything that paid the same or more without additional training and or education.\

FWIW, and this might be different since it's county-level, but my friend/old coworker who's working at LA County said he had a coworker there who left for a private sector job at a 20% pay increase.
oldfatguy
Posts: 870
Joined: Tue Feb 27, 2018 1:38 pm

Re: Taking a paycut for a more stable state job (CA)?

Post by oldfatguy »

fortunefavored wrote: Wed Apr 07, 2021 2:04 pm
oldfatguy wrote: Wed Apr 07, 2021 1:52 pm
fortunefavored wrote: Wed Apr 07, 2021 11:14 am
Personality-wise, hopefully other people can chime in (my experience is close relatives & friends working public jobs of various sorts - city, county, state.. I never did.) But I'd say those that are happiest:

1) Happy to show up, happy to go home. The work is almost irrelevant. Their work may change randomly due to politics or budget changes, but they're fine with whatever the work is.
2) Happy to be on a predictable salary & promotion cycle. They know they will never advance significantly, and they're all okay with that.
3) Happy to be part of a union and all that implies (seniority rules, competence doesn't.) - they especially like this once they're a decade plus in. That's when that real feeling of security kicks in and they can realllllllly slow down.
4) Happy with a rigid (although generous) schedule - they nearly all work 8 to 5 PM in a physical office, rigid accounting of sick & vacation days and they typically use them all. None of my acquaintances had any such concept as WFH pre-covid.
I've worked in state agencies for over 20 years, and in 2 different states, and this list doesn't describe any of the people or work environments I am familiar with.
Can you add the attributes that you do see for those you've worked with who were particularly happy?
I don't think there is a particular "type" of person who is happy in public sector jobs any more than in private sector jobs. The range of positions, departments, agencies, etc. is extremely diverse and people will like their jobs (or not like them) for myriad of reasons.

With regard to your list,

1) I can't recall working with anyone (public sector or private sector) who was "fine with whatever the work is." (Perhaps I misunderstand what you mean by that?)
2) None of my public sector jobs have had "predictable salary and promotion schedule." Maybe that is the case in some states or agencies, but it is not universal in public sector jobs.
3) One of my state jobs had a union, the other (current one) does not. While I would certainly prefer to have one, the vast majority of people I worked with in both places did not seem to care one way or the other.
4) I don't think my schedule is more or less rigid than most of the people I know working in the private sector. Some public sector workers are hourly, some are salaried, just like in the private sector. It is true that there are probably fewer WFH opportunities in the public sector, but there are some. Just depends on the role, supervisor, department, agency, etc. My partner works for the same agency and has an extremely flexible work schedule.
stoptothink
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Re: Taking a paycut for a more stable state job (CA)?

Post by stoptothink »

fortunefavored wrote: Wed Apr 07, 2021 2:04 pm
oldfatguy wrote: Wed Apr 07, 2021 1:52 pm
fortunefavored wrote: Wed Apr 07, 2021 11:14 am
Personality-wise, hopefully other people can chime in (my experience is close relatives & friends working public jobs of various sorts - city, county, state.. I never did.) But I'd say those that are happiest:

1) Happy to show up, happy to go home. The work is almost irrelevant. Their work may change randomly due to politics or budget changes, but they're fine with whatever the work is.
2) Happy to be on a predictable salary & promotion cycle. They know they will never advance significantly, and they're all okay with that.
3) Happy to be part of a union and all that implies (seniority rules, competence doesn't.) - they especially like this once they're a decade plus in. That's when that real feeling of security kicks in and they can realllllllly slow down.
4) Happy with a rigid (although generous) schedule - they nearly all work 8 to 5 PM in a physical office, rigid accounting of sick & vacation days and they typically use them all. None of my acquaintances had any such concept as WFH pre-covid.
I've worked in state agencies for over 20 years, and in 2 different states, and this list doesn't describe any of the people or work environments I am familiar with.
Can you add the attributes that you do see for those you've worked with who were particularly happy?

The list of "reasons people hate it" are much longer - note all the people I know are worker bees, they are not leaders or management. Examples: computer support for a school district, processing special ed paperwork for a county, administration work in a city planning department, DBA for a state agency.
FWIW, your description 100% aligns with my experience (10yrs, 3 different public entities) and that of my wife (7yrs, 2 different entities); as type-A's we eventually couldn't handle it anymore. I genuinely don't think I worked with a single individual who I would have considered a "go-getter" who didn't eventually leave for private industry; this includes people who were overseeing publicly-funded programs with hundreds of employees (I was directing ~70 by the time I had had enough). I'm sure it isn't the case everywhere, but I left two jobs simply looking for a more productive environment and it was the same thing wherever I went.
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jplee3
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Re: Taking a paycut for a more stable state job (CA)?

Post by jplee3 »

The other thing I was wondering is how hard or easy it is to get a job with the county, city or public education, etc if you're working for the state and may want to change over. Are these employers more willing to look at you because they see you're working for the state vs someone from the private sector who's applying for those same positions?
like2read
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Re: Taking a paycut for a more stable state job (CA)?

Post by like2read »

State/Gov't job vs. private sector - I am not sure that is your real concern. I may be off, but it sounds like your real want is lack of worry about being let go.

Perhaps the answer is a gov't job, with all the caveats others have mentioned.

Here is another take. You say you could FIRE in a LCOL living area, which suggests that you have the funds to pay the bills without a job for quite a while in your current location. If you got laid off, how long would that be? One year? Five? Ten? That could be quite a long time to find a replacement earned income stream.

After working in the private sector as an "at will employee" for 35 plus years (now retired) I always believed that my job security was based on my marketability. In other words, how marketable were my skills? Were (are) they in demand? I always found comfort in knowing I had X months, and later Y years of money to pay the bills if I got riffed. That, weighed against the clear eyed assessment of my skillset vs. market demand let me sleep easy. Perhaps your focus could be the above, along with ensuring you have the skills for an easy transition to your next position.

l2r
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jplee3
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Re: Taking a paycut for a more stable state job (CA)?

Post by jplee3 »

like2read wrote: Wed Apr 07, 2021 4:26 pm State/Gov't job vs. private sector - I am not sure that is your real concern. I may be off, but it sounds like your real want is lack of worry about being let go.

Perhaps the answer is a gov't job, with all the caveats others have mentioned.

Here is another take. You say you could FIRE in a LCOL living area, which suggests that you have the funds to pay the bills without a job for quite a while in your current location. If you got laid off, how long would that be? One year? Five? Ten? That could be quite a long time to find a replacement earned income stream.

After working in the private sector as an "at will employee" for 35 plus years (now retired) I always believed that my job security was based on my marketability. In other words, how marketable were my skills? Were (are) they in demand? I always found comfort in knowing I had X months, and later Y years of money to pay the bills if I got riffed. That, weighed against the clear eyed assessment of my skillset vs. market demand let me sleep easy. Perhaps your focus could be the above, along with ensuring you have the skills for an easy transition to your next position.

l2r
Interesting perspective. I've always sort of just 'mapped' job stability with state or govt jobs in general. I'm sure there are a few select jobs in the private sector too - it all comes down to marketability like you said and demand right?

What's the main difference when it comes to govt vs state as far as jobs are concerned though? I did apply for a govt job - just waiting to hear back.

If I got laid off now, I'd probably be looking at anywhere from half a year to a year depending on what I want to call my "emergency fund" lol. We have a standard amount of 'emergency savings' spread between a couple accounts and then a lump sum that is in another savings from the sale of our condo last year. So I could go longer than half a year or year but then this starts severely eating into other things and I'd prefer not to go depleting my emergency and taxable funds if I don't have to do though.

When it comes to skills and skillsets, honestly I am less motivated to "upkeep skills" on the side - if it's required via on the job training (and directly applies to what I'm doing) then I'm fine with that. But seeking out additional training and education *outside* of work is not my cup of tea... I had several security certs and let them expire, mainly because I wasn't making use of them in the past two job roles I've had. They're great for getting a foot in the door but when it comes to actual testing of applied knowledge, it doesn't match up because I haven't been practically employing those skills in a hands-on way. I could do it on the side, but then it becomes a time proposition with having a personal/family life vs studying for school. I've thought about going back to school but I'm hesitant doing that with a young family. Long run of course is to support them but it's hard to get myself to the point of even wanting to go for a masters or MBA.
123
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Re: Taking a paycut for a more stable state job (CA)?

Post by 123 »

Sometimes working in a government job (city/county/state) can be pretty boring. We've got a relative who switched to a government job for the pension plan. He looked forward to the holidays and vacation days as his favorite perk. But he soon found out that the standard in his department was to minimize the number of vacation days actually taken so you could save them up endlessly for the higher retirement benefits based on length of service. So when he took a vacation his co-workers didn't like it since they organized the department's work with the expectation that pretty much everyone would be there every day.
The closest helping hand is at the end of your own arm.
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jplee3
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Re: Taking a paycut for a more stable state job (CA)?

Post by jplee3 »

123 wrote: Wed Apr 07, 2021 5:19 pm Sometimes working in a government job (city/county/state) can be pretty boring. We've got a relative who switched to a government job for the pension plan. He looked forward to the holidays and vacation days as his favorite perk. But he soon found out that the standard in his department was to minimize the number of vacation days actually taken so you could save them up endlessly for the higher retirement benefits based on length of service. So when he took a vacation his co-workers didn't like it since they organized the department's work with the expectation that pretty much everyone would be there every day.
Yikes, that sounds awful!

Wait, so if you don't take your PTO/vacation, this leads to higher retirement benefits? I'm not understanding that part... I never take much vacation (a day off here and there and maybe a week or two every couple years or so but nothing crazy). I guess this depends on the group you're with right? But how do you "vet" for things like this while interviewing? Lol
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