Switching jobs for pay rise [and better role] worth it?

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Elysium
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Switching jobs for pay rise [and better role] worth it?

Post by Elysium » Mon Dec 21, 2015 9:38 pm

I currently have two job offers, both with similar job titles to the one I currently have as senior IT consultant with big blue chip firm. Salary offer is around 10% more than what I am earning now, but 401k match is 2% less - for both jobs. Although with current employer the matching contribution is deposited only with final paycheck for the year, while new offers both deposit every paycheck and vest immediately. I don't take healthcare or other benefits as we will continue to get it through spouse's employer.

Apart from salary the major motivation to switch jobs is that both new offers provide opportunity for growth, at least on paper. When I started with current employer 3 years back it was like that, I had a significant role to play in shaping up the work product at one time, but then those assignments got over and I had to take on less significant roles to keep the utilization going. This last assignment I took over 3 months back made me dislike the whole setup and I started looking outside. I am doing work below my capability level and the company is not going to do anything, unless I somehow find interesting work by myself. Sometimes it is hard to do it internally and external may be easier. Plus the salary raises are a joke in current job since they need some serious sales effort on top of consulting in order to qualify for this.

All that said, it is fairly good setup with a lot of structure and process built around, while new offers are with mid-size companies with less structure and bandwidth. The plus though is, the roles offered are both significant in terms of shaping up the work product. There will be plenty of responsibilities and visibility, which I do enjoy as this is how I have been able to grow and keep up with what the market demands. I am afraid I am able to find new jobs based only on past experience and not the most recent one. If this keeps going may be I will not be able to find similar roles.

I am just not sure if 10% is enough risk premium to join new employers who are much smaller in size and capacity. However in this industry, there is no such thing as a safe job, the only safety you have is marketable skills.

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Re: Switching jobs for pay rise [and better role] worth it?

Post by Jack FFR1846 » Mon Dec 21, 2015 10:10 pm

My simplistic translation:

You can stay where you are, where you're doing lower level work, and likely will have little or no raise and no chance to advance.....

vs a better job with higher pay.....but less of a 401k match.

If it were me, and had an offer in hand, I'd give notice tomorrow.
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LiveSimple
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Re: Switching jobs for pay rise [and better role] worth it?

Post by LiveSimple » Mon Dec 21, 2015 10:35 pm

Get a better offer in a couple of months and then move. See if you can get 25% increase overall including base base, variable pay, 401k match, etc.

Rodc
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Re: Switching jobs for pay rise [and better role] worth it?

Post by Rodc » Tue Dec 22, 2015 9:20 am

Agree that 10% is modest for the level of risk (and minus a little on the 401k side).

If you do not hate your current job I would probably keep looking for at least a while to see if you can find a true win.
We live a world with knowledge of the future markets has less than one significant figure. And people will still and always demand answers to three significant digits.

Elysium
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Re: Switching jobs for pay rise [and better role] worth it?

Post by Elysium » Tue Dec 22, 2015 10:21 am

I also thought 10% may be only the minimum risk premium, this is why I posted to hear opinions. However, getting very high jumps are not possible in tech industry at my level and age (mid 40's) in the east coast, especially in the government contracting world where there are standard rates for specific jobs. The only way to get a 20% or more jump is to get the job of a program manager or above, which I have no skills or experience in and have not had any interest in pursuing. I am in the technoloy path and like to take ownership for the work product from architecture and engineering discipline. Again, there is bigger pay for a chief architect, but new employers are unlikely to bring someone who they do not already know in that type of role. My role will be under the chief architect, but still significant since I will have 5-6 others for the whole program like myself for a team of 70-80 staff. It comes with higher responsibilities that require keeping skills sharper and working on solving complex problems every day. At least on paper, that is what they are telling me.

The current job is not fit for my skill level, as it requires me to do work any junior level employee can do, and if I continue on this for a year or two, I will not be able to demand even 10% pay rise and may even struggle to command the current pay scale if I ever lose my job or forced to leave. This is my worry. Plus in a few years, I will join the rank of older IT workers who becomes an endagered species, especially if I do not keep up the skills. When I was younger I used to think the older IT workers are having a problem because they haven't kept up with the skills and aren't willing to work harder. I used to think this will not happen to me. But now I feel the path I am going will lead me there.

It sounds like about time for me to jump ship and take on risks, without that I may become not marketable. Pay rise is a nice incentive to have, along with a job that keeps up my skills, but asking more than 10% means chance of getting it are very unlikely. I can always wait and see a few more offers in the next two-three months, the system seems to be flush with money next year as government is artifically boosting economy with lavish budgets for all agencies across the board. What will happen in 2017 is a big question.

The alternative is to talk to my boss and see if there is possibility for me to find better roles and if there is a possibility for incentive and raise coming up this year. After this conversation, I can still decide to go ahead if nothing comes through.

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Re: Switching jobs for pay rise [and better role] worth it?

Post by drg02b » Tue Dec 22, 2015 11:09 am

I wonder if you've talked to your boss before about your skill level being underutilized... I've had a very good relationship with my boss, and yet, when we've had those conversations (even couched within turning down other opportunities), things have not changed for the better. I think others have said it before, if your management isn't willing to work with you proactively, the threat of leaving isn't likely to change anything.

Are the smaller companies really unstable or risky? If not, then the risk-level of job security is probably not much different. Is there a significant work-life balance difference between your present job and new job?

If not, the decision seems to be pretty clear to me.
Last edited by drg02b on Tue Dec 22, 2015 5:45 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Rodc
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Re: Switching jobs for pay rise [and better role] worth it?

Post by Rodc » Tue Dec 22, 2015 11:21 am

With that, which as a decade older than you, I understand.

At about age 50 I decided I was not keeping up with folks 20 years younger and with more recent schooling and frankly energy on the purely technical level (I am in high level state-of-the-art research engineering). But I did have more wisdom. They might be better at finding a technical solution, but I had a better sense of what problems were worth solving and a better sense of what "good enough" looked like. I also had enough life experience to help in team dynamics, in keeping calm amid a storm, and such.

So I started to angle for more managerial responsibility. It turned out I was very good in this role and it resulted in both greater pay, a much nicer office, and greater job security. Now it could have turned out differently, but fortunately it didn't.

So, now is a good time to evaluate whether or not you should seek a new type of role that might be better suited to the long term health of your career. I have watched many technical people stick with what they are comfortable with only to have things go downhill.

A conversation at your current place seems like a good idea. In fact a more or less constant mild pressure to take on more and higher level challenges is very appealing in an employee.
We live a world with knowledge of the future markets has less than one significant figure. And people will still and always demand answers to three significant digits.

Elysium
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Re: Switching jobs for pay rise [and better role] worth it?

Post by Elysium » Tue Dec 22, 2015 1:03 pm

drg02b wrote: Are the smaller companies really unstable or risky? If not, then the risk-level of job security is probably not much different. Is there a significant work-life balance difference between your present job and new job?
The risk is really a matter of perception, especially in the government contracting world where everyone gets a piece of the pie. The only difference is smaller companies go in as sub-contractor to bigger ones. Then all that remains is the nature of the contract and what roles are available. I could possibly get into a good role on a different contract with my current employer, had I not got this job, but that also means going on to bench which in consulting world is a dirty word and a list you do not want to be in. I rolled over quickly without asking for the merits of the role. No matter who you are, even program managers/project managers, will have to do this occasionally.
Rodc wrote: So, now is a good time to evaluate whether or not you should seek a new type of role that might be better suited to the long term health of your career. I have watched many technical people stick with what they are comfortable with only to have things go downhill.
I have been asking this question to myself ever since I started off in tech industry and my answer always has been to continue in the tech path even with the risks. My goal is to become FI in another 10 years and by then if I am unable to find the work with higher pay, I should be able to work part time or even work lower level jobs that aren't very taxing at that point, leaving more time for hobbies. Everything depends on what I am able to accumulate in next decade and how much and what kind of work I can do during this time. My main reservation in going into management is that it is a one way path with soft skills then determining your marketability as opposed to tech field where you have some hard skills to market. With the management path jobs also become scarce and you get more tied down with an employer than you want to be.

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Re: Switching jobs for pay rise [and better role] worth it?

Post by gunn_show » Tue Dec 22, 2015 2:48 pm

Dieharder wrote: It sounds like about time for me to jump ship and take on risks, without that I may become not marketable. Pay rise is a nice incentive to have, along with a job that keeps up my skills, but asking more than 10% means chance of getting it are very unlikely. I can always wait and see a few more offers in the next two-three months, the system seems to be flush with money next year as government is artifically boosting economy with lavish budgets for all agencies across the board. What will happen in 2017 is a big question.

The alternative is to talk to my boss and see if there is possibility for me to find better roles and if there is a possibility for incentive and raise coming up this year. After this conversation, I can still decide to go ahead if nothing comes through.
10% is borderline risk premium, but assuming your age and level in IT, even if you are at flat 100k that is still a nice chunk of change, and even better if you are in low six fig. The rest of your story makes sense to move either way. Especially if you feel under-used, bored, not activating your key skills, that would drive me to leave as well. And I've done it many times.

You basically have the prime leverage here - existing gig + 2 offers - you don't think you can get 1 of 3 to go above 10% in some capacity - be it salary, bonus, RSU, etc? I would think with 3 players in the negotiating game someone will bump their offer if you play it right. Play up the two offers, and once you determine one is better than the other, you use that final offer to walk to your boss and give two weeks notice or as negotiation for him to improve your lot. Although you say you're stagnant in this job and company, so I would draw up a desired list of wants (raise, new job role, etc) that he either has to meet or you're gone. Likely, you're gone no matter what. History has shown that the few that take the counter-offer from existing job, and stay, does not work out long term for various reasons.

Usually the start of the year, new budgets, new economy flow, etc leads to tons of new job postings... but again... you have bird in hand plus 2 offers, not really sure how much better a leverage scenario you could ask for? You'd basically be hoping to replace two offers with one that presumably beats both. Gamble...

http://www.kalzumeus.com/2012/01/23/salary-negotiation/
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Elysium
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Re: Switching jobs for pay rise [and better role] worth it?

Post by Elysium » Tue Dec 22, 2015 4:11 pm

Yes, going to get the negotiations going after the holidays, preparing ground work now. Idea is to get house in order by mid Jan whether I take new job or continue with current job. I have learned over the years that if you don't complain once in a while about getting challenging roles and pay scales then they will just let you sweep the floor.

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Re: Switching jobs for pay rise [and better role] worth it?

Post by ne2ca28 » Tue Dec 22, 2015 4:23 pm

Pay isn't everything. Commute, management type, office culture, job satisfaction, etc. also play a role. It sounds to me like you aren't happy now, thus you were looking elsewhere, so do not forget why you started this in the first place and what your mindset was then.

Additionally, I would at least partially consider the benefits (health/dental/life etc) of the probable employers even if the spouse's benefits are used, unless spouse will get the same benefits without a job. You say, "However in this industry, there is no such thing as a safe job, the only safety you have is marketable skills." That is true for many industries.

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Re: Switching jobs for pay rise [and better role] worth it?

Post by gunn_show » Tue Dec 22, 2015 4:27 pm

Dieharder wrote:Yes, going to get the negotiations going after the holidays, preparing ground work now. Idea is to get house in order by mid Jan whether I take new job or continue with current job. I have learned over the years that if you don't complain once in a while about getting challenging roles and pay scales then they will just let you sweep the floor.
clarify... if you have 2 firm offers in hand... how are those offers going to be standing for the next few weeks? I assume one must accept or decline those within days, at best a week...
"The best life hack of all is to just put the work in and never give up." Bas Rutten

Elysium
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Re: Switching jobs for pay rise [and better role] worth it?

Post by Elysium » Tue Dec 22, 2015 4:35 pm

ne2ca28 wrote:Pay isn't everything. Commute, management type, office culture, job satisfaction, etc. also play a role. It sounds to me like you aren't happy now, thus you were looking elsewhere, so do not forget why you started this in the first place and what your mindset was then.

Additionally, I would at least partially consider the benefits (health/dental/life etc) of the probable employers even if the spouse's benefits are used, unless spouse will get the same benefits without a job. You say, "However in this industry, there is no such thing as a safe job, the only safety you have is marketable skills." That is true for many industries.
It's just the nature of consulting world, especially in government contracting world, you start out with something and due to reasons beyond anyone's control situation change. For instance, without divulging too much info, I started out three years back on this job to build out a state of the art fraud prevention system, then due to the various idiosyncrasies of a particular group the whole thing fell apart half way through that, forcing me and others to take up other positions with same agency under different contract vehicles. My other choice was to leave and find a new job, but this job and the ways of the agency is familiar to me, besides the fact that it gives continuity and not needing to look up a job when you really needed one. But the new gig is nowhere close to what the old gig was going to deliver. It's just the nature of work. Sometimes you have to look for opportunities elsewhere.

Elysium
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Re: Switching jobs for pay rise [and better role] worth it?

Post by Elysium » Tue Dec 22, 2015 4:37 pm

gunn_show wrote:
Dieharder wrote:Yes, going to get the negotiations going after the holidays, preparing ground work now. Idea is to get house in order by mid Jan whether I take new job or continue with current job. I have learned over the years that if you don't complain once in a while about getting challenging roles and pay scales then they will just let you sweep the floor.
clarify... if you have 2 firm offers in hand... how are those offers going to be standing for the next few weeks? I assume one must accept or decline those within days, at best a week...
Sorry, the offers are getting written up officially, I have verbal from the hiring manager, and an e-mail on what they are going to write up. People are on holiday this week, so it may not be until next week for the written up offer to come.

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Re: Switching jobs for pay rise [and better role] worth it?

Post by gunn_show » Tue Dec 22, 2015 4:56 pm

Dieharder wrote: Sorry, the offers are getting written up officially, I have verbal from the hiring manager, and an e-mail on what they are going to write up. People are on holiday this week, so it may not be until next week for the written up offer to come.
Got it, makes sense, thanks. That is good for you as well, more time to decide and strategize other options. Good luck.
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Re: Switching jobs for pay rise [and better role] worth it?

Post by Watty » Tue Dec 22, 2015 7:23 pm

Dieharder wrote: The current job is not fit for my skill level, as it requires me to do work any junior level employee can do, and if I continue on this for a year or two, I will not be able to demand even 10% pay rise and may even struggle to command the current pay scale if I ever lose my job or forced to leave. This is my worry. Plus in a few years, I will join the rank of older IT workers who becomes an endagered species, especially if I do not keep up the skills. When I was younger I used to think the older IT workers are having a problem because they haven't kept up with the skills and aren't willing to work harder. I used to think this will not happen to me. But now I feel the path I am going will lead me there.
That is what I was thinking before I read this followup post. That would be especially important in consulting since you will have to periodically scramble for a new project or job even if you were younger.

Last summer I retired out of an IT department of about 125 people in a fairly large company just before I turned 59. I had several job titles and several responsibilities over the years but I was more or less a programmer/analyst with several other hats. (I was a "techie" and would not have been a good manager.") I had worked there for about 26 years although about half way through my time there I took a new position and relocated across the country for it so it was essentially like I had two different jobs for about 13 years each.

What is amazing though is that after 26 years with that company I was the first person to voluntarily retire out of the IT department. I don't know about the executive level but I am pretty sure that where there were layoffs few people got more than six months severance if that.

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