Do I make a lateral career move strictly for happiness?
May 27, 2016 10:59 PM   Subscribe

Hola Mefi, Here's the rub: I work at a place that I do not like very much, but is on the up and up with lots of funding. I am the last person in my department who has not quit and hold a lot of tribal knowledge. I got a job offer from a competitor for the same amount of money and the same title. Do I make a happiness move or do I try and make a few bucks? Deets inside.

The deets:

I'm in my early 30s and I work in an up-and-coming tech sector gig. I have a fairly specialized skill set. My current employer is very, very well funded and is set to double in size over the next year from 30 to 60 employees. The prospective new employer is well-enough funded and I'd be employee number 4.

The major question is: Based on your experience, should I make some gonzo demands of my current employer (25k paybump, 2 Work From Home days, 50 hr/wk for early milestones) and hope they bite or is happiness, even when its a lateral move, the better play?
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Personally I'd take the lateral move if you like the other 3 employees. You sure don't like the folks you're with now. Money only works for about 5 minutes. After that you still have to show up. And if the smaller company takes off you will have a sad. If it doesn't take off you will know you gave it your best shot, which, when all is said and done, is better in your life than being a Tighty Whitey McDrone.
posted by ptm at 11:31 PM on May 27, 2016 [4 favorites]

Will the gonzo ask at your current place provide sufficient happiness? I.E. is your dissatisfaction with the culture at large or just your place in it?

If the answer is no, then jump ship.
posted by a halcyon day at 11:39 PM on May 27, 2016 [4 favorites]

Is there a third option here? A company which is doubling in 12 months will have a lot of opportunity for advancement and growth, and will be seeing a lot of change. What if you talked to your boss and explored options to alter your responsibilities, reporting structure, coworkers, etc, in the near future?

Failing that -- or if the things making you unhappy aren't changeable -- I'd take happiness over money, but that's me.
posted by Dilligas at 11:59 PM on May 27, 2016 [3 favorites]

How are you negotiating your new offer? Ask for like $10k more so at least it's worth your while to jump ship. Don't just accept their first offer.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 12:22 AM on May 28, 2016 [18 favorites]

Happiness. Life is too short to be miserable, and being unhappy at work will affect other areas of your life as well.

Annecdata: I left a high paying job that I hated for one that payed significantly less but had a higher happiness factor. It is the best decision I ever made. There are days I wish I had more money, but not enough to ever go back.
posted by rakaidan at 1:06 AM on May 28, 2016 [6 favorites]

I'm just going through that. Offer for about same money and position; when I placed my two weeks notice current company offered me $18k more. I took a day to think about it, talk to my husband and trusted friends. At the end decided to move on. It was not easy decision, it's a lot of money for me, and no one knows really how new job will be but I have a good vibe and feel is the right decision. As ptm said, money works for 5 minutes.
I'm thinking about how chocked current company was about me leaving and their offer, it makes me upset. They valued me so much but I had to go with an offer from another company for them to show it? Thanks but no thanks. I also think about the idea of keep drawing myself everyday to that place and dealing with the same people, honestly is not worth it.
Change is good and having the opportunity to get away from a place you don't enjoy working at is healthy. Professionally, is good to be exposed to different challenges. Stepping out of our comfort zone is necessary sometimes. You are young and deserve to look and find a better match for you. Good luck!
posted by 3dd at 4:30 AM on May 28, 2016 [3 favorites]

I wish I didn't wait so long to become a happy person . Keep enjoying life . -my dad
posted by aniola at 8:39 AM on May 28, 2016 [6 favorites]

Happiness! Here are two questions I'd be asking myself.

1. Would you be happy at your current job, if you got those things? If not, easy answer.

2. Do you think there's really any chance your current job would give you those things? It never hurts to ask, not really, but if you think there's like a zero percent chance of it, then ask yourself if you'd be making the ask as more of an optics power play (which would give you more insight as to the first question).

Also, can you negotiate with employer number two to try to get a pay raise?
posted by J. Wilson at 9:20 AM on May 28, 2016

I think you're missing (or maybe just didn't mention) another important consideration - your long-term goals. Money or happiness is a short-term decision, but do you expect to be in either your current position or the new one in ten years? What do you want to do next? Which one gets you there?

Also, consider non-money things your employer could do for you. What do you dislike about working there? What would make that change? Working hours? Workload allocation between the departments? Sending someone you hate to another department (for "development")? Making you the department head? Sometimes "I'm going to fix this fucking place" can be a really satisfying long-term project. (Sometimes not)
posted by ctmf at 10:23 AM on May 28, 2016 [2 favorites]

I'm in a similar situation. I started looking for other jobs and am in the final round of interviews with a much larger (think 10 times larger) company than the one I currently work at. It's definitely a lateral move in terms of job responsibilities, though I'll be making more money.

While I really do like some of the people at my current company and I like the product, there are a lot of underlying things that are just fundamentally broken with no change of ever getting fixed by management. The only thing that would keep me there is if X, Y and Z items were changed -- but management has expressly informed me that's not happening when I've inquired about those changes. They're all changes that would affect my happiness. I'm relatively well-paid. I've got two direct reports. I get along well with everyone. But X, Y and Z make me dread going to work every single day.

So I'm biding my time until the right opportunity to bail and this potential new job has a lot of perks that will affect my happiness. (Granted, more money will also be nice, but it's not the deciding factor.)

That said, my current company is in that 30-person range. It sucks. We are all terminally overworked and it feels as though there's no help coming. I feel as though many of my day-to-day issues will resolve over the next 6-12 months as we grow the business and we get more devs, more support, etc. The whole "doubling in the next 12 months" thing makes me want to ask if you think adding more people will help to make you happier. Are you unhappy because you're overworked? More people helps that. Are you unhappy because there's a lack of process? More people added to the team will mean you have to institute processes and being someone who helps to develop them is definitely something I've appreciated. Even if you don't like most of the people there, new people may be awesome.

But if you're really, deeply unhappy with the company and what you do, the lateral move is, IMHO, the way to go. Like I said, my day-to-day issues will be resolved in a year, but the deep-seated X, Y, Z issues aren't going to be resolved. So it's time for me to go.

Good luck to you!
posted by sockermas at 10:46 AM on May 28, 2016 [1 favorite]

You work somewhere you don't like and someone else has offered you a job? If your current employer offered you more money and more WAH time, would you be happy? Possibly not. You'd still hate the company. You'd still be unhappy. Another company has offered you a job - given that it's a startup, I think you could ask for the same things and still get it (or get some/most of it on negotiation).

Personal opinion, but any company that only gives you a pay raise or better conditions when you have another job offer on the table isn't a company you owe any loyalty to. They're clearly not loyal to you.

(And what aniola's dad said. Wise words.)
posted by finding.perdita at 2:10 AM on May 29, 2016 [1 favorite]

A four person company is awfully risky. That is most definitely not the same role you have now in a 30 person company, and comes with a whole bucket of potential new issues that you can't easily identify and work out from the outside. I wouldn't think of this as money versus happiness but rather the company you know versus the company you don't. Plus as companies grow and figure out their market and product, they can change dramatically into places you might or might not want to work. Odds are decent that in a year you discover it's not the right place for you either.

That said, lots of people valorize the super early stage experience and if that's something you want in your life you should definitely go for it! But in the abstract I would caution against thinking of these roles as in any way comparable.
posted by heresiarch at 5:01 AM on May 29, 2016 [1 favorite]

If you are working in tech, you presumably already have plenty of money. Is there anything that more money could buy you that would make you happier?

But, yeah, being at a 4-person company has plenty of room for unhappiness and plenty of room for very unhealthy work-life balance, especially if it's a 4-person startup that wants to be a bililon-dollar company in three years, as opposed to a 4-person small business with a modest workload.
posted by akgerber at 8:59 AM on May 29, 2016

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