update from the reader wondering how to avoid jobs that expect 70-hour work weeks

Back in February, a reader wrote in wondering how to avoid inadvertently accepting a job that would expect him to work ridiculously long hours. Here the update:

The contract-to-hire job I was working at the time of my email ended abruptly when I turned down the offer to go full-time. Initially they asked me to extend my contract and keep thinking about it instead of saying no. I was fine with that but was also honest that I probably wouldn’t change my mind. When layoffs were announced a week later, I was an obvious candidate. They gave me an on-the-spot ultimatum and I said no thanks. I have an emergency fund, reasonably-priced COBRA payments (from the previous job) and no debt so it didn’t phase me one bit.

I took a month off and visited friends, worked on some projects and basically slept a lot. I then made my Dice profile visible again and eased into the job hunt (meaning I clicked the visible box and went back to sleep). Two days later, I got a call from a Fortune 500 company in the city where I had been trying to relocate for a job that matched me perfectly. They needed somebody immediately, as in a very brief phone interview at 10 AM Friday, offer at noon and start on Monday.

I figured I would roll the dice since it would allow me to relocate, the money was good and the company would look good on my resume. I didn’t even ask about hours or being on-call. I thought about it but figured it would be more appropriate to wait until the second interview (that never happened). It turns out everyone leaves around 5 PM every day, always takes lunch and there is NO on-call. I stayed until 5:30 one evening because I was in the middle of a problem. A manager actually walked past my desk and asked, “burning the midnight oil?”  Seriously? It’s 5:30!!

I wish I had could say I had a plan others could follow but all I can say is sometimes things work out for the best. I guess the only lesson I learned is that it never would have happened if I didn’t stick to my guns and turn down the job I hated. That’s a tough lesson to pass on to others in this economy.

{ 5 comments… read them below }

  1. Adriana*

    Something very similar happened to me (a professional in the IT industry), including the relocation aspect and not being expected to work long hours. I think that another very important lesson here is, make sure you remain “employable”.

    The best way of achieving this goal is constantly monitoring sites that work as aggregators of job posts to check out what employers are looking for, and making sure you keep current in the most sought after skills. Even when the economy is bad, if you have skills in high demand, it’s not difficult to find another position when you become dissatisfied with your current job.

  2. Long Time Admin*

    I’m glad to hear that everything worked out so well for you! It does give hope to the rest of us that things will work out well.

  3. Jen M.*


    I love that line: “Sometimes, things just work out.” I’m trying to keep that in mind as I look for my next, better job!


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