Monday, February 02, 2009

Hypothetical (Note: I have not (yet) been offered this job)

Imagine you are unemployed and someone offers you a job that they could reasonably assume you would find attractive.

They give you a choice:
(1) you can have the job automatically, and start right away, with a contract for a year, at the end of which they will have to advertise the position and you may or may not be successfully reappointed.
or
(2) they advertise the position now, which will take a few weeks (perhaps a month or so), and they expect a lot of applicants. Moreover, the selection criteria are unlikely to fit you very well (i.e. your only chance will be if no one with a certain qualification applies). BUT if you are successful, you will receive a two-year contract.

I would choose (1), no question. Someone who I said this to was quite surprised, having expected me to choose (2). I cannot imagine how anyone could possibly even consider choosing (2). Or am I just unusually risk-averse?

What would you have chosen?

20 Comments:

Mikael Vejdemo-Johansson said...

I would have chosen (1). Not only do you get to work for a year without worrying, but you also have a year to BUILD the skillset they need for the position once it does get advertised.

Rebecca said...

I think you're being more realistic than risk averse.

Basically, you're staking a sure one year contract against a two year contract that your only hope of getting is if NOT ONE qualified person applies. All or nothing, with the odds stacked against your getting the all.

I know people who make choices like that. I'm related to some of them. They are always wondering why things never seem to work out for them the way they do for everyone else.

Being a little more realistic in their life choices couldn't hurt.

Plus, the point Mikael made above, about finishing the first year with possibly the qualification they are looking for, is an excellent one. Really, it looks like such a no brainer to me.

twirly said...

11!!1111!!!!111!!

Anonymous said...

Definitely one! Who wouldn't take a sure-thing job for a maybe job?
Barb

Citronella said...

(1), definitely. Not only do you have a job for the first year, but you are in the best position to work at being the best qualified person to be hired at the end of this period of time. I can't even see what the reasoning behind choosing (2) would be, actually.

The History Enthusiast said...

Definitely #1.

Lindsey said...

Definitely #1 - what Mikael said.

peterxyz said...

I'm with Mikael here.
I think you fall into the realistic rather the the risk adverse category.... here is my supporting reasoning.

ASSUME(*) the value to you of year 1 and year 2 of the job are equal

then for a "risk neutral" person to choose option 2, they would have to believe that there is a 50% chance of them getting the position under this scenario.
Based on your description, I'm guessing that you'd put the probability of this below 50%, so in fact you'd have to been strongly risk seeking to choose this option.

* in fact the value of year 2 should be substantially discounted (not just for time value of money, but also) because this is life and lots can happen between now and then. Under discounting, you'd need even greater than 50% chance of getting the job to make 2 worthwhile

Jana said...

It has nothing to do with risk-aversity: you, woman, are behaving like the Reasonable Man, for the reason Citronella says. Peterxyz is also right about discounting the value of year 2. #1 is the right choice.

But, importantly, what is this - are you about to be offered something?

Sarah said...

What citronella said- after a year when you have to reapply for the position, you are obviously the person best qualified to fill it. Whoever was surprised at your choice probably has a compulsive gambling habit, because that's all that #2 offers...

peterxyz said...

actually if you have the details of the people who chose #2, then I have some subprime mortgages that I'd like to sell them

saxifraga said...

Option 1, hands down. Like everyone else said.

Bardiac said...

1, no question.

Maybe in a field where a "lot" of applications means three I'd try for 2, but in anything remotely as tough as academics, 1 for sure.

(Good luck if that's appropriate!)

Julep said...

1. No doubt.

stephanie said...

I would definitely choose 1. Mostly because I am presently unemployed and instant gratification sounds good to me.

Anonymous said...

!!1111111!!
Don't mention anything related to the work child for a year and you should be in a great postition to "re-nigotiate" for a better pay rate etc.

EcoGeoFemme said...

Totally #1.

StyleyGeek said...

Well, I'm glad to find such overwhelming agreement! I THOUGHT I was right, but it's nice to have mathematical evidence for it (thanks, PeterXYZ!)

And yes, this means that I really DO NOT understand why the person asking me this was surprised by my response.

Jana - I'll get back to you :)

liz said...

(1)

WhatLadder said...

The only reason I can see to choose #2 is if you are great in interviews, but possibly crap at doing the actual job.