Should I take this job?
November 22, 2011 2:23 PM   Subscribe

Should I take this job?

I make $55K/yr. Benefits include the standard health/dental, 401k (but no match), FSA, known entity, good team and nice coworkers. I could see myself hangin' out here working for a good long time.

Then company 2 came along, and I applied on a lark, because it's a much better title at a higher-profile company, doing similar work to what I'm doing now, but with somewhat more responsibility and opportunity to affect change. We went through the whole interview process, I thought I was a great fit, I'd like to work there, and they love me.

Then the ball drops, and they offer me $50,000. I was surprised but handled myself well, and told them that for this position, I was looking for closer to $60K. Hiring manager emphatically said that they wouldn't be able to do that, but she would see what she could do.

She called me back today and said that they could offer me $53K with a review in six months, plus memberships to two associations I'd like them to cover. She also said that she would like to offer me more but cannot due to the budget. (Nonprofits are awesome, yeah.)

So now I'm torn.

If I took this job, I'd get: a match to my 401k up to 7%, a transit benefit worth about $900/year, memberships to two associations, similar insurance and FSA, and a superior title that would clearly reflect a step up, career-wise. I'd also be down $2000/year in salary, and while I'm sure they would like to up that amount, a promised review in six months where the manager would do her best to get me up to the salary I want is not the same as a guarantee - the average 2% increase in salary is just a little over $1000, so still not touching my take-home pay at my current job.

I'm comfy at my current job. It kind of sucks to not have any access to professional development, but the team itself is good and I genuinely like my coworkers. I could coast here a long time doing my job but if I ever want to get ahead I will need to jump ship because this is the highest I can go here due to the structure.

So I guess my question is, beyond "should I take this job," how to effectively balance these conflicting elements. How do I determine what weighs more heavily than something else?
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (25 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Maybe I don't understand how all of this works--haha, grad student, never had any of these things--but with a $900 transit benefit and the 401(k) match, doesn't that close the gap?
posted by liketitanic at 2:28 PM on November 22, 2011

The 7% 410k match is worth $3850. The new job pays more, not less.
posted by Perplexity at 2:29 PM on November 22, 2011 [20 favorites]

Is the non profit position grant funded? I would strongly advise NOT taking a grant funded position for the next few years. Like 5. Federal funding is getting worse jot better and even when the economy recovers it will lag. The fact that its underfunded already would worry me.
posted by fshgrl at 2:29 PM on November 22, 2011 [4 favorites]

No , you should not. If you like where you are and what you are doing then you should not move unless you receive a significant step up in salary. What if the new job sucks or your new bosses suck. Will your transit pass and new title make up for that?

Don't move from someplace that you enjoy working at unless you receive a 15 to 20% increase in salary is my rule of thumb.
posted by Poet_Lariat at 2:30 PM on November 22, 2011 [15 favorites]

I would take it, because I think the better title at a more well-known company is going to be much better for you down the line than $2,000 a year. Plus the matching contributions to your 401(k) have the potential to be more than double that.
posted by Safiya at 2:30 PM on November 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

You're taking a risk in leaving. I wouldn't move for less than 15% to 20%, all in. You have no idea what it will be like there and you're not really getting a lot in return.

Will you use the full 401k match and transit? How much are the two association memberships?

Could you stay at your current job and work on your education or improve your profile instead? If you spent $2k on your education, worked hard, perhaps did some volunteer work, would you be able to go for something a bit higher profile at your current job or elsewhere?
posted by Chaussette and the Pussy Cats at 2:37 PM on November 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

You should take it, especially if you sense that the opportunities for advancement at your current job aren't good.
posted by downing street memo at 2:40 PM on November 22, 2011

From Ms. Vegetable:
I wouldn't because having a team and coworkers you like is HUGE. And worth more than the small increase in salary you'd be getting.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 2:41 PM on November 22, 2011 [8 favorites]

First it seems like once benefits are factored into total compensation financially its about a wash. From there I agree with with both Poet_Lariat and Safiya.

What we can't answer is how important career advancement is to you compared to a healthy work environment. If you're young and actively climbing the corporate ladder - where position is important to you then I think you should take the new job. If, however, you're more interested in maintaining the status quo at a job you enjoy with people you enjoy working with then stick with where you're at, sometimes you can't appreciate a good job situation until you're gone.
posted by bitdamaged at 2:44 PM on November 22, 2011 [2 favorites]

Poet_Lariat nailed it, except I would have said at least 25% minimum.

Also, titles are cheap. if they value your skills enough to give you a superior title, they need to express that financially, in your salary, not with a bunch of fringe benefits. Finally, remember that a salary at a job you like is guaranteed money. What if you start the new job and you just can't stand it, or it just doesn't work out for some reason? Now you have no salary at all. it's certainly happened to me.
posted by drjimmy11 at 2:46 PM on November 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

"A [higher-paying] job in the hand is worth two [lesser-paying] jobs in the bush", or something like that. ;) I would not take the other job. Your current salary history plays an important part in your future job negotiations, I wouldn't lower it now.
posted by shino-boy at 2:55 PM on November 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

If you have career ambitions, specifically to advance your career in this particular field long-term, you should take the job with company #2.

If you place more value on a comfortable, friendly workplace and find your personal fulfillment in areas other than your career, stay with the current place.

Of course if you are ambitious and do decide to jump, you should bust ass for the first 6 months with a goal of doing really well at that review to get a raise and hopefully some additional responsibility. And, you must be ready to work those professional organizations and possibly jump ship again after a respectable period (2 years?) if the review, or some later thing, doesn't work out.

Either way is respectable, but that's the choice you'll be looking at as I see it. I wouldn't worry about your salary slipping $2k/year; if you are ambitious, you will be able to break up to the next tier whether you came from 53K or 55K.
posted by rkent at 3:05 PM on November 22, 2011

So, basically, the new job would give you:

- less security (since you can't know whether you'll like it enough to want to stay there, whereas at your current job you know you "could coast here a long time"),

- more work ("somewhat more responsibility"), and

- more or less the same pay (literally "more or less," depending on how much you contribute to the 401(k)).

I wouldn't take that offer.
posted by John Cohen at 3:06 PM on November 22, 2011 [2 favorites]

Hold out for job #3 - that pays more and provides the career advancement you're looking for.

Don't take a salary cut unless you are literally desperate to get out of your current situation (you clearly stated you are fine where you are, so you're not desperate.). Salary is often a better indicator of your level than title anyway - titles can vary quite a bit from organization to organization.

The interview process is when you get to negotiate salary. Even the most well-meaning promises to make you whole later if you just take the job have not delivered in my experience. If there isn't a very solid reason to take a lower salary just do not do it.
posted by rainydayfilms at 3:23 PM on November 22, 2011 [3 favorites]

Also consider when you are due for your next increase at your current job. It's near the end of the year--are you possibly just about to get a 2% bump at your current job? In that case the incremental salary at the new place is even less valuable.

I think the top benefit you'd be getting at the new job is the new title and extra responsibility, which would be useful if you plan to quickly leverage those into another higher-level job elsewhere.

But I don't think you are, and I don't think it's worth it anyway. John Cohen and Rainydayfilms have nailed it. Especially in this market you don't want to mess with a stable and satisfactory situation unless you're getting a big benefit.

Stay where you are, and look for an even better job somewhere else.
posted by lockedroomguy at 3:33 PM on November 22, 2011

Perhaps this will further confuse the issue, but think about this:

If you are leaning heavily towards taking the new job, go to HR at your current job and use the new potential job as leverage to see if you can get anything more out of your present gig. Ask for 401k matching, or ask for more money, or for more vacation time... whatever you think you might deserve, and what you think your present employer is in a position to give you.

However, this is not a good idea if you are not willing to actually leave your current job if your requests are turned down.
posted by cleverevans at 3:47 PM on November 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

Wow - I'm really glad to have happened across this question. On first reading, it seemed like there was an absolutely obvious, overwhelmingly right answer. So obvious, in fact, that the whole question reads as, "allay may fears regarding my planned course of action, which I already know is right." And yet, a large percentage of the comments offer exactly the opposite advice. I love it when that happens! There are many different perceived worlds here, even just among us mefites.

My immediate, thoughtless response is that for someone who is healthy, far from retirement, not facing hard and immediate financial obligations, and who is already making a comfortable living wage, it would be insane to worry about a few thousand dollars when choosing a job. Furthermore, it would be a mistake not to jump at a more rewarding job when given the chance.

But, thanks in large part to the other comments here, I realize the narrowness of my own professional niche and personal motivations. If it were me (an entirely career-focused academic, in a field where salary is uncorrelated with either prestige or responsibility), I know I would regret not taking the new job. I also know that avoiding regret, especially regrettable inaction, is almost always the right decision for me. But, I can't tell whether you'd have the same regret, and much less whether that's important to you.

I therefore retract my advice. To say anything useful, we'd need to know a whole lot more about what you value. But, as is often said and rarely helpful, at least you can take comfort that choosing between two attractive options is a fine problem to face.
posted by eotvos at 4:40 PM on November 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

I'd agree that the compensations are about the same. Especially if you were contributing to the 401k before. Honestly, if your budget would really notice the difference, you might consider really looking for a higher paying job.

It really sounds to me like you liked the potential of the new place, so I'd say jump ship.
posted by advicepig at 4:59 PM on November 22, 2011

I agree with those saying look at the total compensation as well (benefits, retirement, etc).

I'm on my second to last day of a job that I'm leaving for one where I'll earn a hair under $2k less per year initially, but I'm gaining flex days, better benefits, a better working environment, etc.

Much like you, I could have coasted along in my current position indefinitely, but I wanted to change some aspects of my day-to-day, and this place fit the bill and will offer more to me in the long term. I say go for it!
posted by at 5:06 PM on November 22, 2011

If you can get offered this job, you can get offered another job at a third company that offers a better title, room for advancement, and a higher salary. This won't be the last opportunity to come your way. I would hold out for a better one.
posted by MexicanYenta at 6:15 PM on November 22, 2011 [2 favorites]

Can they offer tuition and paid time off to attend courses you want (that will help your career AND the NP). Also, increased vacation time/four day week, something to compensate for the lack of pay? I agree you should be looking for a third job, one that pays people what they are worth when responsibilities increase. If you were to take the new job and get promoted within would it follow this pattern they have set: low pay-more work?
posted by saucysault at 6:43 PM on November 22, 2011

How long have you been on present job? I know we don't look for thirty years anymore, but I would think at least three before you jump "on a lark," especially for less money, especially if you have to turn around and find something else if it doesn't work out. Fresh memory of similar during most recent job interviews.
posted by halfbuckaroo at 7:19 PM on November 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

The compensation is a wash, pretty much. But jumping around from job to job can make you a less competitive candidate eventually. Jumping ship will probably mean you will need to hang out for at least a couple of years there; but if you stay in your current role, you could find something that will pay better sooner than that. Just one more factor to consider.
posted by fingersandtoes at 9:55 PM on November 22, 2011

I would take the new job, because career progress has value to me. You've got a comfy gig though and that's valuable too.

What do you value more? Comfort and friendship or professional development and ability to advance? It's okay to value either side of the equation more. It's a personal decision.

Once you know what you value, you'll know which job to take.
posted by 26.2 at 10:12 PM on November 22, 2011

If you are leaning heavily towards taking the new job, go to HR at your current job and use the new potential job as leverage to see if you can get anything more out of your present gig.

This is spectacularly bad advice and should not be followed. Even if the old job did offer you something to keep you, if it ever time came for layoffs or anything else, they're going to start with the people who already have one foot out the door.

On the other hand, negotiating hard for raises and what not at the old job (without mentioning this other opportunity) if you wanted to stay... having an offer in your back pocket could give you some psychological leverage.
posted by canine epigram at 6:23 AM on November 23, 2011 [2 favorites]

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