I got a canvass letter in the mail this week for one of the two civil service exams I took back when I was desperately looking for work. Both exams were for technician level jobs with the county. The scores had come out earlier, and I ranked third on both exams (although it was a something like a five way tie on one of them). The canvass letter indicates there are actual open positions that I am eligible to interview for. It is not an offer of employment; it is just to find out who among the eligible candidates is still interested in the position.
I was hoping it wouldn’t come to this so soon. I have been in my current job not even two months now. For the most part, I really like it, and things should only get better come the summer field season. I want to give the job a fair chance: I do not want to quit before I even have a chance to get out in the field.
There is also the fact that my current position is pretty much exactly what I went to school for, or about as close as I could ever get in the private sector. The county does not have positions specifically dedicated to the subject, and there are no federal or state positions in my field either (not locally). All the jobs I have ever worked in my field have been out of state. That was why I resigned myself to the stinky old lab job for so long... there just are not very many opportunities in my area.
The county jobs are both in a somewhat related field, and from my understanding, involve year round field work, of the variety where I would be driving around collecting samples. The work sounds low stress, and it sounds like I would be working independently, both of which are huge draws. Being “on” all day in an office can be challenging for me. I know from experience doing field work alone is much less of a challenge for my introverted personality.
Plus, there are the benefits to think about with the county. The starting salary is comparable to what I earn now, slightly more, but in the hundreds more, not thousands (pretty insignificant). The county position has predictable raises though, based on time in service, so I’d be guaranteed pay increases totaling approximately $5,000 by the end of five years. There are, of course, no such guarantees in the private sector. I could be making much more, or I could be stalled out not getting any raises at all. Furthermore, the firm I work for is fairly small, probably around 40 or 45 people total. There is very little job security with small companies, and they can skip out on all sorts of worker protection provisions. For example, the Family and Medical Leave Act only applies to companies with more than 50 employees. New employer might choose to follow those guidelines, but they certainly don’t have to.
I am so torn. Excepting the last two months since I’ve been working for new employer, I would have been thrilled for this opportunity with the county. Now I just wish it came at a different time. What I ended up doing was indicating that I am temporarily unavailable, until September. This will give me more time to better assess my current job, but hopefully keep me on the list for future vacancies, in case things change. I am now out of the running for however many positions the county chooses to fill in the next several months, and there may not be any more open positions later (the lists are only good for so long).
I hope I made the right decision.