Choosing between two job offers
How I would choose between two job offers
Although my eventual goal is financial independence, I derive the largest part of my income from good old fashioned American work. Actually, it's completely new fashioned American technology work, complete with standing desks, kegerators, free snacks and designer offsites. I've got it pretty good but I'll have to look for a new job someday. Maybe my company will get bought, or boredom will set in, or some new boss will come around that I won't be able to work for.
This discussion is even more timely than usual. There are SO MANY good jobs right now. Unemployment just dropped to 3.8%, which is the lowest historical level in the past 60 years. As the job market has tightened, wages have begun to lift (particularly in technology). I can't seem to go a day without receiving a new LinkedIn recruiting message or hearing about the LinkedIn recruiting message someone else got.
As I've been hearing people discuss new jobs and jumping companies (both in person and on Blind) it's become more apparent to me that there's no magic formula for deciding how to decide between two jobs. I've put this quick evaluation criteria together for my own sanity - maybe it'll be useful for the next time I have to switch.
Ranking the criteria for evaluating between job offers
- Company - WHAT? The Real FINANCE Guy didn't put salary or bennies first? Nope. For me, it's all about the company. The people I work with and the product or service I work for define how successful and happy my career is. That will never change for me: I'd always take less money for a better company. This is so important that I wrote a completely separate post on it. If you haven't read it, dig in and see how to evaluate companies.
- Responsibility/Role - Am I doing what I want to do? If you aren't, you'll ask yourself that every day, which is why I spend so much time in a job search thinking about and comparing the day to day tasks. The process of evaluating a role is also intimately tied into responsibility, because overseeing great tasks or people can be a blessing, and overseeing difficult people or tasks can be an incredible burden. Pretty obvious, right?
- Work/Life Flexibility - The entire reason why I started this blog was to document my own trip towards eventual financial independence. For me, the ability to CHOOSE when I want to work and when I need rest is the closest thing to financial independence that I can imagine while still having to work. You'll notice I didn't say "work/life balance". By choosing the right company (see Step 1), I can ensure that even if I have to work a lot I will still be happy. The ability to choose when and how I do the work makes it even more palatable. From the other direction, there's nothing worse than a job where you have to wait for your boss to leave every day.
- Base Salary - Money matters. It's why we work. Most of us, anyway. You'd be crazy not to take salary seriously. That being said, I put this all the way down at number 4. If it isn't a good company, in a good role, with decent flexibility, there's no amount of money that would make me take the job. Simple as that! Surprisingly, people choose money over company and role every day. If you need proof, just look at the bajillion people who work for Oracle.
- Incentive Salary or Stock - Incentive money is important, and it can serve as a valuable qualifier or trump card between job offers, but I believe it is less valuable than base salary. I rank base pay above it because you KNOW what you are going to get in base pay. I would happily sacrifice 15% of my stock options for a 10% raise, even though my stock options MAY end up being worth way more than the equivalent raise. May... it's not a sure thing. I think this is why Netflix has been able to hire so well: they offer gigantic base salaries but almost no incentives. I would take $150k in a heartbeat over $100k+$100k (POTENTIALLY) in stock. Base pay is predictable and reliable, making it easy to plan my savings and meet my financial independence goals.
- Benefits - Assuming the company offers healthcare, and some sort of retirement plan, the rest of the benefits are of mediocre importance compared to the company, role, flexibility, and pay. Who cares if they have a 401k match if you get paid more to compensate? That's even more true for trinket benefits like free snacks or gym discounts. I can only see benefits being a deciding factor in any job decision if the offers and company were essentially the same, and one company didn't offer healthcare or a 401k.
- Title - Titles are stupid, and yet I've seen SO MANY people go crazy over a new job offer because they got a fancier title. WHY? Please explain this obsession to me. I could be CDO of a tiny startup and make $100k (mostly in stock), or I could be an engineering manager at Google and make a million dollars a year. I could be a Director and manage 300 people, or a Director and manage none. I did put title on the list, but only because people pay attention to it. I wouldn't go from CEO to Intern. It's also important to try to maintain a similar or increasing amount of responsibility, regardless of the title. Going from a Director at a startup to a Senior Manager at Google might be a promotion in responsibility, and would almost definitely be a promotion in pay.
That's my list! What do you think? What would you swap around?