Taking a job where you don't intend to stay

I am curious about the morality of taking a job where you don’t intend to stay at the job for a long time.

I was recently offered a job where they are looking to train people to replace a group of people who will be retiring in the next 3-5 years. Training takes about 2 years. They said they were looking for people to replace those workers who are retiring.

If you plan on leaving a job like this after 1-2 years, is it moral to take it if offered?

From an employer’s view…

As a former CEO, I took, what some consider, a hard line to employment.

My philosophy was simple: Hire, train, then promote or fire. If I suspected that an applicant was only looking for a temporary position…I would not hire that person and train him for another employer.

However if a talented hard working employee wanted to move on to a better paying job and I did not want to lose that employee…I would make him/her an “offer he/she could not refuse” and his/her final decision would become a very difficult one.

I rarely lost key employees.

I don’t think it would be a sin, but it may cause an inconvenience for the employer since they would have to hire & train someone else. This happens all the time and is frustrating for the trainers at some institutions.

Not a sin at all. Your commitment is to your own well being and that of your family. If the employer’s situation changes in a few years, who knows what it might do?

As someone who hires and fires (I’m the executive director of a small agency), I do everything I can to make our workplace as rewarding as possible. But I always tell people that if they can get a better deal somewhere else they have my blessings to move up in the world.

I have a few young people and we can’t afford to pay them what they’re really worth. I tell them we’re going to train them as well as we can so that we both benefit. If they have to make a move to a better salary, they’ll at least be going into it as prepared as we can make them.

Firstly, I thank the employers here for there perspectives, which seem to be saying that the employee shouldn’t worry about this when taking the job. Thankyou - that is most helpful!

As a young man (with a young family), I suffered the same scruples as the OP.

Looking back at my life and career in my twenties and thirties, I would change:

  1. Not worry about taking a job that I might leave,

  2. Actually stay in the jobs which I had taken, rather than move on when I perceived something better. One of my great regrets in life is the disruption I caused to my family with my lack of contentment in jobs which, in hindsight, were very good.

My general advise on this issue is that no job is perfect. It is better to stay in a less than perfect job than to keep seeking greener pastures. If you want to do something more adventurous then do it in you own time (with study, or similar), rather than seeking it in a better job. Of course, there will be exceptions - but look at them very carefully.

Is there any particular reason why you’re considering taking a position that requires 2 years’ worth of training— just to leave it after training is complete?

Is it the sort of thing where you’re trying to check that “2 years’ experience” box in a particular field, so that you can move on to the next level in that field? If so, is there a reason why you don’t intend to allow the people who are training you to profit from their investment in you?

Your time is your own, and your labor is your own, but if they’re telling you straight-out, “We’re grooming people to replace these people three years down the line,” it’s not good form to jump ship the moment you’re clear and go do something else.

Anecdote: My old employer (a municipality) had a tuition reimbursement program. They had a problem with people using their program to go to school-- and once they had that degree, they ran off and got a job somewhere else. So they put in a requirement where you had to give back a certain percentage of what they had paid, depending on when you left within a 2-year term of accepting their money. They helped me get my Master’s through the program-- but there was a hiring freeze in the department who used people with my degree. So I did volunteer work while I waited for the thaw. Mostly, they ended up absorbing Katrina refugees, but they pretty much told me, “Why should we hire you when you do such awesome work for free!” My 2 years was up in September, and I had a new job lined up by January… but the difference being, for four years, I gave them every opportunity to keep me.

With the economy and job market the way it is, I wouldn’t worry about it too much. Employers know that they have the upper hand and will use it to their advantage.

This highlights to me that if the employer expects you to stay for a certain amount of time then they can put a “return of service” condition in the contract, where, if you leave too early you must re-reimburse a percentage of your training. Employers used to do this in the past - I don’t know if it’s still legal (although it does seem “fair” to me).

If the employer can legally include a return-of-service in the contract, and doesn’t, then you shouldn’t have any qualms about taking the job. They probably have their own reasons for not requiring you to accept such a condition.

Why would someone do this?

You are being trained to replace someone leaving in 3-5 years. That means that now, you are excess but the company is making the investment for continuity of operations.

I would say that you are wasting their time if you take this job, and you are torpedoing their plans, as well.

Ah, but what of OP’s plan? Is the company’s plan more important?

I think disclosure is important. They’ve disclosed something important about their expectations. If you don’t say anything, you are agreeing that you will meet their expectations.

To answer your question - they disclosed their plans. The OP should disclose his/her plans.

Turnover is a fact of life for employers and you do’t know what the future may bring. The employer may have to cut back before your training is up or after your training you may find the job market is such that you best option is to stay.

If you have a family to support, I think that it would be worse not to take the job. Like above posters have said, turnover is a fact of life. Many people go in to jobs expecting to stay for the rest of their careers and end up leaving after a month because it isn’t the right fit. Similarly, just because you aren’t planning on staying now doesn’t mean that in a year you will definitely leave. A lot can happen in a year.

Also remember that an employer can get rid of you at any time for any reason (at least in my state, which doesn’t require an employer to give a reason for termination). They hold no moral obligation to keep an employee. Likewise, an employee holds no moral obligation to stay with an employer if it isn’t in their best interest. At the end of the day, you have to do what is best for you and your family.

There is nothing wrong with this whatsoever.

Do what is right for you. Rest assured… the company is doing what is best for it.

So, based on the responses, it certainly does not seem like it would be a sin.

Still, I feel uneasy about taking a job where I am planning to leave in a couple of years and they are expecting me to stay…

Follow your conscience.

Good luck and God bless.

I understand completely. However–you are looking for a job now, not two or three years from now. Also, you don’t know for sure what life will be like at that point. You might decide, or circumstances might change and that job will be where you want to be.

Let’s say I’m a farmer and a man comes to me saying “I want to buy a milk cow to produce milk for my family for the next 5 years.” I pick out one of my older cows which I am pretty sure is not going to live longer than two years and say “Here, buy this one” and take his money. Note, I didn’t claim “this one should live that long” or “I think this will do what you’re hoping,” so I haven’t outright lied. Moreover, it’s true that even if I had picked out my youngest, healthiest, best producer something may have come along in a two weeks to kill that animal; it’s just as true that my customer might decide after a few days of milking that this was not worth the effort and choose to let the cow roam away free. But neither hedging against active deception or invoking future uncertainty cancels out the fact that I have sold a man something that I have every reason to believe will *not *meet his stated expectations for the purchase. Would that not be fundamentally dishonest, even if it technically breached no written contract or market law? I certainly think so. Now, perhaps in the OP’s case the company is just expressing a general desire - even strategizing that they’ll overhire for their replacement rate because not all the new hires will stick around. But the more strongly they assert that they would expect me, in particular, to use the training they are giving me to replace an employee a few years down the line, the more strictly honesty would dictate that I actually intend to deliver upon that expectation in taking the job.

Personally, even if there were no stated expectations for term of service I would at least hesitate to take a position that I intended to leave as soon as the company had gotten me into productive shape; at the end of the day I might conclude there were sufficient reasons to do so, but I would not want to be merely exploiting someone or a system.

I took a job where I knew I wouldn’t even last a year. It helped me get my foot in the door at a competitor with better working conditions. Believe me a company will have no problem laying you off if conditions warrant it… even if you were expecting to stay. Welcome to the world of at-will employment

THIS is exactly what I am feeling/talking about.

I know that the employer would lay me off if conditions warranted it, but I DO feel like there would be an element of dishonesty in taking a position like this, and I think this scenario illustrates that. Thank you Andreas!

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