Should I stay or should I go?

A young knowledge worker journalist is juggling freelance commitments:

Q. “I’ve got a full-time job. I’ve also got a part-time job editing a niche magazine. It’s a start-up and it doesn’t pay yet. The owner says there will be money later when the title is profitable. I love editing, love the subject matter and want something special to put on my resume and put my name on the map.

“Now another magazine owner has offered me similar work and this time it pays. The problem is, I have to drop the first freelance job to take on the new one but I could use the money. I’ve made a commitment to the first magazine owner.

“What should I do?”

A. There are a number of things to consider. The most important matter here is to leave the existing job in good order with your reputation and relationship intact so you can claim the experience, resume entries and the glowing reference from boss number one for years to come.

If you suspect a smooth exit simply isn’t going to happen, then get out as quickly as possible while giving the boss concerned the fewest genuine grievances to hold against you and potentially spread around town to other potential employers. Make sure you give reasonable notice and deliver 110 percent during the stand down period.

Next you need to consider any commitments you have made to boss number one.

If you agreed to stay for a set period of time, then you should stick to your promise. Many potential future employers will consider this to be important. Employers can talk to each other and they consider references are important when hiring.

If you haven’t made a firm commitment, then ask yourself if job number one has delivered what you expected. OK, there’s no money, but is it as rewarding as you hoped? Do you enjoy the time you spend or is it a chore? Are you still excited about it? If the answer to these questions is yes, and you’re not in serious need of the extra money from freelance job two, then stick with freelance job one.

Now, if you’ve got this far down the list, everything’s cool and you’re still weighing things up remember that three lines on a resume and a good reference can be useful, but they can be scant reward for hours and hours of hard work – particularly if another employer can offer the same brownie points and cold, hard cash in the bank.

So check the offer is still there, then make sure you are not leaving boss number one in the lurch. Give him or her plenty of time and explain what you are doing and why. In fact do everything you can to leave on good terms.

Whatever you do, don’t attempt to play people off against each other. And don’t think you can juggle the extra workload. One job is more than enough for most people. A little moonlighting doesn’t hurt. But you need to keep your energy and freshness for your day job.