dream role vs dream company

A reader writes:

If I’m lucky, next week I’ll receive two job offers with pretty similar salaries. I’m extremely excited, however, I have a bit of a dilemma:

Job 1: Dream company, not dream position
I LOVE THIS COMPANY! I can’t stress that enough; I would be honored to be a part of their team! They have a great culture, great mission, great team, and really great benefits/perks, the kind that make you want to not leave the office. I fit in here, and I could see myself being really happy working in this environment. The downside? I want to one day become a recruiter, and this position is in sales. I originally interviewed for a recruiting position (which wasn’t offered to me), but they invited me back to interview for this sales role.

Job 2: Dream position, not dream company
This is an entry-level role in recruiting, which is what I want to be doing. However, it’s a contract position, so no benefits, and no guarantee for a full-time job. They seem to have a stressful environment and the people I spoke to didn’t seem happy to be there..at all. I’ve spent a lot of time wondering if I would I be happy, and I’m not sure.

So when faced with this decision, I’m a little anxious, stressed, and confused. Would it be a foolish move to take a sales role and hope that once I establish myself in the company, I could transfer to a different department? Or, would it be more foolish to take a role that may push my career along, but has no guarantee of employment in a few months? In this situation, what would you advise me to do?

I usually stay away from telling people which offer to choose, because it’s not a choice that an outsider can or should make for you. Choosing an offer really comes down to how you weigh all the different factors involved — and different people weigh those differently.

However, in your situation, I’m going to tell you to seriously consider #1. I’m not telling you to to take it, because, again, this is about how you calculate the relative merits here, not how I do … but here are some factors to weigh in your thinking:

* A happy working environment counts for a ton. A ton. When people are miserable at work, it’s generally not about the work itself; it’s usually about their boss, their coworkers, or the culture where they’re working. You might notice that very few people write in to me who love their companies but dislike their work. Some do, certainly … but most are unhappy because their companies/coworkers/boss are making them unhappy, not their work.

(That doesn’t mean that you should take any job at a company with a good culture, of course; it still needs to be work you could be reasonably happy doing. And as it happens, sales is something that people often either love or hate, so make sure you’re not on the hate side.)

* If Company #2 seemed stocked with unhappy people during the interview process, it’s probably even worse than what you saw. People usually try to at least polish things up a little bit for interviews. Working in an unhappy place — even if you yourself aren’t unhappy — is pretty unpleasant.

* Having no benefits really sucks. And having no health insurance more than sucks; it’s dangerous.

* If I’m right in guessing that you’re fairly new to the work world (which I’m guessing based on the entry-level position), then there’s also this:  A lot of people find that their dream job early on in their career doesn’t match up with what turns into their dream job later. I’m not pushing you away from recruiting, but you’re probably going to find other things you like doing too (and are good at), and might even find you don’t like recruiting as much as you thought you would. So keep an open mind about that piece of this.

By the way, one thing I’m not going to advise is asking Company #1 about the possibility of moving into recruiting with them at some point. It might seem like a reasonable thing to ask, but it will signal to them that you’re not really enthusiastic about the sales role and that you might be agitating for a way out of it soon after starting. Those things are potential red flags for most interviews, so stay away from that.

So. There’s a bunch of thoughts for you to chew on. What other advice do people have?

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