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posted: 9/24/2017 7:17 AM

Wife wonders if spouse's job-hopping is smart

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  • Even if job-hopping is expected in an industry, being in high demand means you can be picky about opportunities. And if managers learn you're being courted by competitors, they might be inclined to make your side of the fence a little greener.

    Even if job-hopping is expected in an industry, being in high demand means you can be picky about opportunities. And if managers learn you're being courted by competitors, they might be inclined to make your side of the fence a little greener.
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Q: My husband changed careers a few years ago to a niche retail industry. Six months after starting in an entry-level position, he was recruited to manage a startup in another state. He disliked the upper management and, after a year, was recruited to manage at another facility for the same pay, with a great boss.

Another company has offered him a $35,000 raise to come work for them in another state. He has been in his current position only eight months. He has no idea what the new employer would be like, and it's located in a much more expensive area. Also, he is charmed by the large raise, but the job title would represent a demotion.

I work from home, but traveling to my employer's HQ from the new location would be costlier. I also spent a lot of time lining up schools and child care. If he stays put, he has a good chance of getting a raise without disrupting our family. Should he go for it? Stay and build his résumé?

A: In a recent column, I suggested that couples trade off moving for each other's jobs -- "with due consideration for the follower's needs and sacrifices." To be blunt, your needs are now due consideration.

So far, your husband has had solid reasons for each job change. But this latest opportunity seems, at best, a lateral move. The only known benefit, the raise, seems to be outweighed by unknowns and negatives: demotion, a higher cost of living and more disruption for his spouse and kids.

Even if job-hopping is expected in his industry, being in high demand means he can be picky about opportunities. And if his managers learn he's being courted by competitors, they might be inclined to make his side of the fence a little greener.

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Another look at that boss who wanted free lodging:

In a previous column about the boss wanting to use a worker's home as a hotel, I discussed how a worker could make hosting his boss overnight less burdensome, or eventually get out of doing it. Unfortunately, I completely blew past a key point: Both were public-sector employees. This being Washington, D.C., a number of astute readers pointed out that this kind of arrangement violates federal and possibly state and local ethics rules for government employees.

According to federal standards of conduct, federal employees are prohibited from soliciting or accepting gifts -- including free lodging -- from lower-paid federal employees. Even if the subordinate had made the offer, the boss should have declined it.

So the correct advice is for the employee to end the arrangement, citing the ethics rules: "I'm afraid I can't offer you crash space anymore. I've learned that it could be viewed as a 'gift,' and we could get in trouble for ethics violations." If the boss resists or retaliates, the next step is a visit to the agency's general counsel office.

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PRO TIP: The Office of Government Ethics (oge.gov) summarizes the federal standards of conduct regarding gifts and travel in plain English. (And I now have it bookmarked.)

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Ask Karla Miller about your work dramas and traumas by emailing wpmagazine@washpost.com.