shall i make this move?
October 7, 2012 7:17 AM   Subscribe

finally got a written offer, but now i am really torn:

1. the new company will give 20% increase in base salary but no bonus prospect in '13. so if we look at "all-in" cash comp (base + bonus), there is only about 5% increase (compared with what i got in my current position in '12). don't really know if i will have the same cash comp coming 2013 if i stay put (see #4 below).

2. the 5% increase is almost wiped out if i look at the facts that the new place has no 401K match and there is 20% medical insurance premium increase.

3. the new job also requires me to travel at least 1 week/month, while the current one almost has no travel. i have been traveling for more than 10 years now. so travel is not on the "plus" side of any analysis when comparing two packages...

4. i really like the industry I am in right now: electronic trading to hook up hedge funds with brokers so that they can trade millions shares of whatever. i think it's interesting and exciting. but the company itself is not doing well as it gets most revenue from big banks/brokers which all seem to be in a severe cutting mode. this is the initial reason why i started looking for new jobs.

5. the new company provides medical research and education services. gets most of revenue from big pharmas. at least for an outsider, it seems to be one of the very few industries that is growing these days.

6. as for the new job itself, it's almost identical in every aspect (except the travel of course) to the one i have right now.

i know what i provide here is bit sketchy, but i would really appreciate any ideas and comments to help me reach a decision.
posted by kingfish to Work & Money (23 answers total)
Financially, it looks like the new job is a (slight) win—a guaranteed base salary that is higher than your current salary and bonus (which you think may not happen again this year), and still higher but not very much if you look at benefits. But you aren't very enthusiastic about it, maybe because of the big travel load, which is understandable. Unless you have to, why change?

You might want to sum up the points made here a bit more clearly and see if the new people will give you a better offer.
posted by grouse at 7:23 AM on October 7, 2012

You started looking for a job because of your long term view that selling services to financial firms was not a growth area. You found a job in an area you have identified as a growth area. While your overall compensation package is about the same or marginally higher, your base pay is going up 20%. That is a big plus. That can have an affect on your earnings for the rest of your life. Travel at this point. It is more of a suck than a plus.

I would take the new job. I would give it 18 months to see if I liked the job itself and/or the industry. If after 18 months you think you made a mistake, start looking for a new job. Also, who knows, maybe over time your job will evolve to less travel or you will move to a different job within the company that has no or less travel.

If nothing else, the experience of having a different job with a different perspective and in a different industry will be a huge plus in the long term view of your career. If your issues are short term, travel and shape of compensation, stay at current firm.

This is a long term versus short term decision.

Good luck.
posted by AugustWest at 8:01 AM on October 7, 2012 [2 favorites]

If it were me, I wouldn't make the jump until I had a better feeling about the new job. I would want at least 5% more to make up for the new job's deficiencies.
posted by forforf at 8:06 AM on October 7, 2012

Can you use the higher base salary as a springboard to get an even better job a few years down the road? Most companies (fairly or unfairly) use your current compensation to determine your worth.
posted by wolfdreams01 at 8:07 AM on October 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

A written offer is nothing more than their first offer, especially when you already have a job. There's a lot about this offer that's probably negotiable.

At the very least, you should ask for more salary. Figure out the difference between the salary they offered (let's say 100k) and the salary that would make you absolutely THRILLED to move (let's say 120k). Ask for double that difference (140k) along with a good reason why this is the salary you were expecting (rare set of skills, travel burden, etc...emphasize your unique value and all the great things about the job you're leaving). It's very important that you don't just ask for a better salary, but to ask for a specific very high salary that you provide justification for. They'll either blow you off (in which case you stay with the job you have and like) or start moving the offer a lot closer to your ideal salary.

This will be a much easier decision when they make you a better offer.
posted by eisenkr at 8:08 AM on October 7, 2012 [5 favorites]

Health care as an industry is a growth area, I wouldn't be nearly as optimistic about big pharma. Their portfolio of blockbuster drugs is aging out of patent, the pipeline of new ones is very dry, they've been cutting back on R&D for the last decade, and more and more primary care doctors are operating within integrated health systems that pressure them to prescribe generics unless there's evidence that newer drugs are actually more effective.

Big pharma is already under a lot of cost pressure, and I only expect that to increase in the next few years.
posted by strangely stunted trees at 8:15 AM on October 7, 2012

Negotiate a higher salary - tell them it's only a 5% increase all in, and you need more to make a change.

I think with a higher salary the prospects look good given growth industry vs. declining industry.
posted by rainydayfilms at 8:15 AM on October 7, 2012

thank you all very much. lots of suggestions here are very good and practical..
posted by kingfish at 8:25 AM on October 7, 2012

This is secondhand information and it may depend on what kind of work you're doing, but for programming I've been told by multiple people (including a former manager at Microsoft) that salaries in finance are just higher. Honestly, a 5% increase (and all of it in base salary) is much better than I expected. Most stories I hear involve outright pay cuts. In fact, I've been told that a lot of programmers in finance have trouble even getting interviews elsewhere unless they declare up front that they're willing to take a pay cut to get out of finance.
posted by d. z. wang at 8:30 AM on October 7, 2012

the other thing i noticed is that the offered comp package seem to be at least 10% lower than what and shows for comparable positions in the manhatten zip codes.

maybe just like d.z. wang suggests here, financial institutions do pay up a great deal where people like to go to salary site to brag a little...
posted by kingfish at 8:36 AM on October 7, 2012

Are both positions based in Manhattan?
posted by grouse at 8:39 AM on October 7, 2012

yes, both positions are in mahattan
posted by kingfish at 8:43 AM on October 7, 2012

Keep in mind that this isn't the only job offer you're going to get. If you like the lack of traveling in you current job and don't think the prospective offer is good enough, keep looking. It's not Boolean :)
posted by bpm140 at 8:47 AM on October 7, 2012

I also vote for "keep looking." Traveling takes a bit dent out of your life, especially if you have kids or pets, and the lack of 401(k) match would worry me.
posted by snickerdoodle at 9:39 AM on October 7, 2012

You have a written offer. It's not time to make a decision, it's time to make a counter offer. Write back to them and politely tell them what you just told us: you like the job and like that medical research is a growing industry, but their current offer is simply too low when total compensation and fringe benefits are factored in for you to leave ship. Mention a number, make it somewhat higher such that they can counter-counter offer a number acceptable to the both of you.

You don't need to mention, but it should give you confidence that they have wiggle room, and that you should play the negotiation game. Many people mistakenly believe the worst case scenario is them retracting their original offer. Never seen that happen and it makes no logical sense. They liked you enough at $X before to make the offer, and you asking for more reveals no new information... So, the worst case scenario is they refuse to improve their offer at all.

If they refuse to improve, I think you have your answer. A more thorough analysis of the 401k, medical benefits, and substantial travel will probably reveal the offer to be substantially inferior to your current job. Between your current job and other opportunities that come up, this scenario becomes a no-brainer.
posted by pwnguin at 11:23 AM on October 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

You have the useful leverage that you are currently happily employed with a good salary. There's no reason to change except for a significant improvement.

I would take eisenkr's advice and make them a counter-offer so that your ideal net pay is halfway between the two. You should make sure to count all the benefits in both salary estimations.
posted by katrielalex at 12:18 PM on October 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

A lot of the replies focus on the money. But you didn't go looking for a new job for the money. Take money out of the picture and look at the job, at your life. Will you be happier in the new job? Will you be under less stress with a change in industry (the reason you started looking for a new job in the first place)? Will you be under more stress with the increased travel?

You need to answer these questions first, before you think about the money. Making 5% more (or 10% more, or 20% more) doesn't magically fix the problems that come with the job (any job). Only make the move if you will enjoy the new job at least as much as your current job.

Then, if the new job comes out as a net plus, go into the salary negotiations as suggested above. But don't waste your time negotiating for a higher salary for a job that ultimately won't make you as happy as the job you have now.
posted by jcdill at 1:44 PM on October 7, 2012

I don't think there's any question that outside of compensation the prospective job is better than the current one, but that doesn't help in negotiation. I would consider them roughly equal except for the travel and bonus. Would you accept if the put you on the bonus plan for next year in exchange for not complaining about the travel (so to speak)? That is, boil down the pain to a few points and use those as leverage on the comp. "It's not enough, because #1, 2 & 3."
posted by rhizome at 4:02 PM on October 7, 2012

what to do? they came back with 30% increase...
posted by kingfish at 3:38 PM on October 8, 2012

30% increase from your current salary or from their initial offer (which was already a 20% increase from your current salary)?
posted by grouse at 3:41 PM on October 8, 2012

i declined the initial offer with 20% increase last night, they immediately followed with 30% today
posted by kingfish at 3:45 PM on October 8, 2012

i don't want to sound greedy, but as my initial post pointed out the 20% increase was only 5%, not even that after considering all the retirement saving stuff
posted by kingfish at 3:50 PM on October 8, 2012

What I do is maintain a spreadsheet budget that operates pretax and calculates income tax based on 401k contributions etc. Here's a google doc link you can export to LibreOffice. This helps establish the value of retirement savings stuff when comparing offers. But keep in mind you can open an IRA instead, so you can contribute like 5k a year tax advantaged 401k or not. This spreadsheet is what you use to figure out how much more to ask for.

At some point though, you'll have to compare intangibles. Things you can't easily find a market value for. I don't have a good answer for this, but they say you can't buy happiness.
posted by pwnguin at 4:34 PM on October 8, 2012

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