Financial aspect of a young professional's career dilemma

Hi everyone,

I am a young professional currently facing a career dilemma, and I wonder if anyone with more life experiences could give me some helpful advice.

I’m a master’s graduate in her mid/ late 20s in an extremely competitive field (international organisations, e.g. UN). Long story short, I used to be a junior staff member at a big, reputable international organisation. However, I became unemployed unexpectedly (didn’t get fired though) and have been looking for a new job for almost half a year now.

I now have a job opportunity in front of me, but it 1) pays much lower than what I used to earn, and 2) is at a lower level (admin. assistant position), which does not actually even require a university degree. I have my emergency fund saved up, so money isn’t exactly a problem. I also started getting unemployment benefits for one month now, but of course, this job would pay more than unemployment benefits.

My question is: Should I take it or leave it?

From a purely financial point of view, I guess it would make sense to take it so that I can keep having some income, even if it’s way lower than what I used to have. But at the same time, I’m worried that taking such a position would hurt my career on the long-run (both professionally and financially). If I leave it, I could take a much longer time (e.g. one year or more) to get another offer/ position. (tested and proven by my friends who are also in this field)

What would you do if you were in my shoes (taking into account all the life experiences you now have)?

Thanks for dropping by!

I would say it all depends how you see your chances to actually get a good job in the next 3-6 months. If the compentition is hard, i would not pass.

When i am looking to engage new people, i like it when someone has a job but comes to my interview looking for something better. On the other hand, someone with no job might seem desperate to find one.

As for the purely financial part: if you are able to cover your costs without a job, i would say do not jump on the first offer.

So as always it is not black - wight.

if money is important: you could accept the offer and start applying right away for new positions. maybe this postion offer oppurtunities to grow for you? also you do not need to make it a big deal in your CV… there coluld be something like “intermediate position” or just nothing. people hiring you, will know that you are in a competitive field. this won’t hurt your career

if time is important: take the unemployment money and focus on applications buuut you have to be comortable with doing this (not everybody likes being outside of emplyoment for many months/years)

Hi moneyhero,

Do you want to make a career in international organizations or are you open to other fields? If international organizations, my understanding is that much like academic tenures, a huge part of scoring them comes from networking. Can you still do it with your temporary job? What are your prospects if you don’t take it?

I’m not in your field though I’ve heard it is, indeed, very competitive. I’d look at it this way:

  1. Make sure you can stay on your feet financially ;
  2. Keep a few career paths that appeal to you in front of you (have a vision at all times, being able to see yourself in the future plays a big part of staying up when times get dark) ;
  3. Draw a path toward your aims and work on it.

Lateral paths that you may consider include federal diplomatic and parliamentary related positions. Other fields may keep the door of international organizations open while holding good career prospects.


Thank you very much for your responses! :grinning:

@yakari: Competition is so crazy in my field that I cannot say if I have a good chance of getting a good job in the next 3-6 months. In the end, I think it depends a lot on my luck unfortunately. I’m worried that if I don’t take it, I will have to wait for a much longer time (e.g. one year). And I wonder what kind of damage it’s gonna do to my CV, career and financial health.

@Rufio182: How do people see “intermediate position” that’s basically a demotion? (plus the empty months in between that looks like I got sacked when I didn’t…)

@Wolverine: Yes, I want to make a career in IOs. In fact, what I studied is so niche and specific that there’s a really low chance that I could find something in the private sector…

Regarding point 1, I’m currently relaying on my emergency fund, which won’t run out any time soon, but it just feels horrible having only expenses and minimal income (from investments and part-time job). I understand that time is key in investing, so I try to keep investing though being unemployed. If I take this job, I won’t have to worry about not having enough money to keep investing. But at the same time, I feel like it might hurt the level of salary I can ask for, or even simply the level of position I can get in my future jobs in the coming few years, which might be a larger damage in the end.

Are you in good terms with your former colleagues? Any chance one of them could put some light on your options, what path lead them to where they are and throw in a good word for you (or a recommandation on your resume) to their IO network?

Regarding your field of studies, chance are unless you work in your very specific niche field, it won’t affect much your chances to land an interesting job. I would certainly not limit my search to the areas defined by the academic knowledge acquired during my studies. I have no idea what recruters focus on in prospects in your field, though. My guess is that there are a wide array of profiles that can land you a job in a relevant branch of the federal administration, which you could then leverage toward a position in a IO.

Political activity/networking/experience can help too. If you haven’t already, I’d get in touch with a party that suits your ideas of society and try to get involved with their activities.

I don’t know about those organizations but in general people appreciate working more than waiting. Considering this year you can always say ”it was difficult to find something immediately due to covid. So instead of sitting at home, I decided to use and hone my admin (etc) skills in the meanwhile. It turned out that there were a lot of similarities between these roles and I appreciate the experience I gathered from this other field.”

I guarantee you that negotiating for the next dream job will be more comfortable if you are not unemployed.


+1 to that. And you also mentioned the 80% unemployment money would be less than what you would get in the admin position if I understood correctly, so I’d definitely go for the admin position but keeping the eyes open for another job.

Thanks everyone for your responses!

In fact, I have more than one opportunity in hand. None of them is exactly what I’m looking for, but with your comments, I’ll make sure that I accept one of them if I do get an offer in the end. :grinning:

I do hope it’s true that being employed would give me more bargaining power in my search for my dream job!