CareerFilter--should I stay or should I go now?
March 12, 2020 1:51 PM   Subscribe

I've just gotten a somewhat unexpected job offer, and I could use a hand and/or some advice figuring out what to do next.

The background: I currently work in the public sector (at a university) as a software developer. It hasn't been massively lucrative, as you might expect, but they gave me a work visa when I needed one back in 2017, so I've stuck with it.

However, two things have happened within the last year:
1.) I got indefinite leave to remain here in the UK, meaning that I'm no longer legally locked into my current job and can work anywhere without restrictions; and
2.) I found out that my predecessor in my job, while doing the same work as I do and doing it objectively not as well as I've been doing it (based on reports from several coworkers), was somehow an entire pay grade above me, which translates into my making somewhere around 70% of what he did.

I've brought that last point up to my management a few times since I found it out, and I've been met with the same runaround--it's not the right time to push for a grade increase. I don't quite have a solid enough case to get it just yet. It's not terribly "relevant" that I'm doing the same work as (and better than) the last person.

It's that last, most recent bit that really irritated me, and armed with my shiny new ILR, I got a little drunk one night and started flinging my CV around to various places just as an exercise in venting.

Fast-forward to the last week or so. Out of nowhere, I got a phone interview, an on-site interview...and now a job offer. (Apparently they liked the cut of my jib.) So now I've got three options:

- Take a pass on this and stay where I am for now, because stability.
- Go to management with the job offer and use it as leverage.
- Just go ahead and go to the new job.

Now, I like where I work. I like the environment. I like the people I work with. I'm just more than a little fed up with making well below market rate for the kind of work I'm doing as well as some of the processes they're trying to impose on us. (Long boring and irrelevant design/signoff things that are both glacial and tedious.) This new job offer is kind of tempting, though. I've been trying to break down the pros and cons of it all:

- An immediate 30% pay increase, with the prospect of more after a three-month probation period.
- What looks like a really generous quarterly profit-sharing bonus program. (It sounds like it's sometimes been in the neighborhood of 10% to 12% of annual salary.)
- Mrs. Example wants me to add here that it'd be an excuse to leave her job, which she's also fed up with.
- The chance to work on some pretty interesting-sounding stuff for an online environment (recommendation engines, harassment prevention tools, that sort of thing) in Python, which is my pet language.
- A chance to live closer to some of our friends, who live in the town where the job's located.

- It's in a city about thirty miles away, which isn't really commutable. (I could do it, but it would be around 90 minutes each way and eat up around a third of my pay increase in transportation fees.) We'd have to move, with all of the stress and trouble that entails.
- I'd be leaving my boss/coworker (we're a team of two) in the lurch a bit. I've got a several-month notice period to do handover in, but still. I'd feel guilty about it.
- See also: I like the people and environment. I go to the pub with some of my coworkers sometimes. I'd be leaving all of that for a bunch of unknown quantities.
- The uncertainty of it all. It's a faster-paced environment than I'm used to...what if I can't handle it? What if everyone's a lot younger than I am and I don't fit in? What if I wind up not liking the actual job? Worse, what if I absolutely suck at it and they wind up firing me?
- My utter discomfort at any kind of major life changes. :P

I'm not asking anyone to decide for me, obviously, but...I'm sure someone else has been in a similar position. How did you decide? What did you do? Was it worth going to your existing employer and saying (politely) "Give me more money"? Hope me, MetaFilter. Right now I'm about 55%/40%/5% split between taking the job, asking for more money at my current one, or chickening out entirely.
posted by Mr. Bad Example to Work & Money (16 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Can you use the offer to get that 30% boost at your existing job?

edit: It's always been useful and gainful to do this with an offer in hand, in my experience, and in that of my peers.
posted by nickggully at 2:11 PM on March 12, 2020 [3 favorites]

I'm thinking that might be my first thing when I'm back in at work on Monday. The other place is wanting my answer by this next week, though, so unless the university moves much, much more quickly than I've ever seen them move, well...I suppose we'll see.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 2:22 PM on March 12, 2020

Take the job.

An immediate 30% raise is huge, and it sounds like you will never get it at your current job.

I see one item on the cons list with any real substance: the need to move. One major concern with moving would be the effect on your partner, but it sounds like that’s not a concern at all, per her entry on the pros side.

Other cons:

You shouldn’t feel guilty about leaving, especially not with that much notice. Business is business — you’re not married to your employer. You don’t owe them anything beyond a reasonable amount of notice and a professional attitude about leaving.

The next three items are all worrying about unknowns. It doesn’t sound like there’s any particular reason to believe you won’t make friends or won’t fit in. And from the interview process, presumably you got the sense that this was a job you would like to do, and evidently they believe you would be good at it.

Take the job.
posted by snowmentality at 2:22 PM on March 12, 2020 [12 favorites]

I'd be leaving my boss/coworker (we're a team of two) in the lurch a bit. I've got a several-month notice period to do handover in, but still. I'd feel guilty about it.

Your boss is leaving you in the lurch when you go to them with the fact that they are underpaying you and they say 'well, it's not a good time for us to pay you what your work is worth'. If it's not a good time for them to pay you what you are worth, it's not a good time for you to work for them.
posted by jacquilynne at 2:31 PM on March 12, 2020 [12 favorites]

Take it! You don't owe your boss anything except the work they pay you for, NO MATTER WHAT.
posted by so fucking future at 2:47 PM on March 12, 2020 [1 favorite]

Put it this way, are you prepared to literally give away thirty thousand dollars every year (or whatever your pay increase would be at this other place) to stay and for your employer to think well of you, when they’ve already said that looking after you isn’t convenient for them? If so, you’re a better person than I am. Also, if you’re giving away free money, please send some my way!
posted by Jubey at 5:00 PM on March 12, 2020 [4 favorites]

Hm. It seems to me you are going to leave this job eventually. Like, you will probably not be there in 10 years. So the question isn't really whether to leave, it's whether to leave for this particular offer.

So, I would focus on whether you want this particular job. And I think your qualms about uncertainty are legit, although maybe not for the reasons you think. You are used to a super-stable environment. This new place went from first interview to making an offer in what sounds like one week. That's fast, and companies that hire fast also fire fast, and sometimes for not-great reasons.

If I were you, I think I'd try to slow this down a little. Maybe ask to have lunch with your new colleagues or the person who would be your boss. Ask a bunch of questions, about what the company's goals are, how decisions get made and communicated, how top-down it is versus bottom-up, what kinds of things work well versus what don't, etc. Try to get a sense of the company culture. Check out its financial stability (if appropriate). If they push back really hard on any of that, that would be a red flag.

I wouldn't rush. If they are willing to wait several months for you, another week or two on top of that shouldn't faze them.

Oh and I would not try to use this offer as leverage at your current place. Because (as you said) your current employer probably can't move that quickly, and you're not sure that you want to stay even if they can. Plus honestly when people do that in a public sector context, in my experience they get written off as kind of self-interested even if it does work, and they usually end up leaving within a few months anyway.
posted by Susan PG at 5:15 PM on March 12, 2020 [4 favorites]

I assume that the city in your profile is current, and the other job offer is in one of the two slightly larger cities 30 miles from you.

In which case, I'd say that either of those cities does feel a lot more exciting and vibrant than your current city, and would be great from a career point of view.

So a move might be great. But on the other hand, there's lots going on career-wise in those places, including lots of public sector and quasi-public sector IT jobs. You can wait this one out, and carry on applying now you know how you feel about these places.
posted by ambrosen at 5:26 PM on March 12, 2020

If you take (and hate) the new job, the next job you apply for will be one that pays n+30%+10 to 15% more. Look at how many more years of work you have ahead of you, add up the difference and take it from there.
posted by kate4914 at 5:42 PM on March 12, 2020

In my experience a public sector employer is not very likely to salary match, and may decide it is unable to offer you any increase at all. If that happens what would you do?

FWIW I think you should be looking to leave in general and the only question is whether you take this job or hold out for a better one.
posted by plonkee at 12:01 AM on March 13, 2020

I work in the UK university sector and they are a) not going to pay match because they'd have to change your grade to do that and b) they are not going to grade increase because they're already stiffing us across the board on pay locked into next year's staffing budgets so I'd flee screaming if I were you.
posted by halcyonday at 3:38 AM on March 13, 2020 [1 favorite]

Leave. Your current employer has already shown you what they think you're worth. No matter what counteroffer they may make, how will you be able to trust your future career development to them? You've worked for one employer for a few years, that's more than sufficient in this world.
posted by disconnect at 5:44 AM on March 13, 2020

Take the job.

A 30%-45% raise, in an area you have friends, doing work you find interesting, with the blessing of your partner?

Over a place that doesn't think this is a good time to talk about paying you 70% of what your predecessor made to do the same job about as well?

There's no comparison.
posted by meaty shoe puppet at 5:09 PM on March 13, 2020 [1 favorite]

Thanks, all. I'm about 75% to a very tentative 80% leaning towards taking it, with the deciding factor being having The Conversation with my boss tomorrow. We'll see how it goes.

In the mean time...I haven't worked in the corporate world for a while, so maybe I'm missing something, but is it weird that this place pretty much went zero-to-hire without checking my immigration status (beyond what I told them) or my references? That feels weird to me.

(P.S. I did the math--it's actually almost exactly a 33% raise. So there's that.)
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 4:06 PM on March 15, 2020

I've now had the conversation with my boss, who took it really well. More or less verbatim: "I'd be sorry to see you go. I like working with you, you're a good mate, and you're good at your job." (I think I'm more touched by the "good mate" bit than anything.)

He's going to go a couple of layers up in management to see if they'll bump up my salary here, but neither of us is holding our breath. It's looking like this thing is happening.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 3:57 AM on March 16, 2020

Well, that all turned out as a bit of a surprise. I was going to take the job and was going to hand in my notice...but my boss's boss turned around and offered me (without my asking) a promotion and raise to stay.

I took it. The money is only around 7% less than the other place was going to pay me--in other words, a 23% raise--and I'll be doing pretty much the same work with the same responsibilities, but getting paid at more or less market rate now in a pretty decent and very steady job. All that and I don't have to pick up and move for the second time in less than three years.

I don't want to jinx it, but I think things might have worked out. Thanks for the advice, all.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 1:50 PM on March 25, 2020 [2 favorites]

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