chosing between jobs - which would you chose? (pro/con list)

sojayOctober 15, 2007

Chosing between jobs, what would you choose if the following were the pros/cons of each:

A: to stay put

-decent salary (relatively speaking, for the area we are comfortable)

-location: pleasant quality of life, extremely low cost of living (bottom of the scale nationwide), and we have a house we love.

-job satisfaction: you feel you can make a difference, but frustrations with heavy and slow 'system'

-Wife has a satisfying, but not well paying job

-education: a very decent affordable private school, but with 45 min commute each way for the little ones (10 min more than our commutes to work).

-job security: very high

B: to move across the country to a new job

-income: 4 times the salary of job A (dizzying numbers, actually)

-location: Extremely high cost of living (top of the scale nationwide), quality of life unknown, don't know if we could find

-job satisfaction: unknown, but a dynamic large company with exciting opportunites.

-Expectations of a certain lifestyle with accompanying expenses

-education: unknown, but we are assuming there are good schools in the area

-job security: unknown, but the company is large and stable

-Wife's job opportunities very slim in her field, but with the potential extra cash available, she could do projects that could further her career.

Other issues:

Climate is comparable.

Social network is not important, as we've only been in place A for two years and haven't developed real friends - only work acquaintances. We have no family in the country. Most of our friends are in neither state.

Wife's favorite pass time can better be practised in place B.

Values: we are undecided on this one. The risk of the kids getting bad influences in place B (like drugs) is probably higher, but there are things we dislike about social values in place A too.

Place A is up and coming but has a long way to go. Place B is already established as a desirable but maybe overrated place.

We are both big fish in a little pond in place A and would be little fish in a very big pond in place B.

Both jobs have growth potential.

I think we are a bit blinded by the huge salary increase, but there are so many more factors that play in. We haven't finished the research we need to do about schools and real estate in particular before making a decision.

What have we hot taken into consideration that would be of importance in YOUR opinion? I know we are lucky to be able to chose between two good situations, and we are grateful of that, but believe me, we've paid our dues with under valued and way underpaid jobs for so long.

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You might also want to evaluate whether or not you'll need to work longer hours at the new job or if you'll need to be doing significantly more travel. With a 4x salary bump, either could be the case. How would it affect your marriage and your relationships with your children if you were spending more time away from home, either at the office or on the road? And if you felt obligated to work more while your wife was effectively a stay-at-home mom (since you don't think she'll be able to find a job), how would you feel about yourself and about her? How would she feel about herself and about you?

I guess I'm thinking about this because I used to work for a company where it was normal to be out of town 5 days a week and (whether out of town or in town) it was also normal to work 15-20 hours a day. The pay was good and I learned a lot there, but I always thought that I would never want to be married and working in that culture. I knew people who had good marriages who worked there, but they really had to put a special effort into it. Plus their spouses had to be on board with essentially having weekend husbands/wives. Some people can do it... but I don't think I would have been at all happy.

Beyond the relationship/happiness stuff, I think you might want to seriously quantify some of your unknowns. If you're expecting higher housing, higher lifestyle, higher cost-of-living, potentially private schools... all that could seriously eat into that salary. Especially if you wife isn't earning. Do some research and then do some math. It may be fine, but it may be more of a stretch than it seems.

One more note: you say "we've paid our dues with undervalued and way underpaid jobs for so long." If your wife can't find a job in the new place and is just doing "projects," she may end up being paid zero and she may feel supremely unvalued at times. This is an opportunity for you and for your family, but it's not exactly the same opportunity for all of you. If you do take the job, do make the effort to stay plugged in with each other. It would be a big change. At the end of the day, you all want to be happy with it.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2007 at 11:53AM
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I've done the job relo thing before. No regrets, but I do miss home/family, and plan to move back some day. Your situation is different because you don't have ties in either place.

IMO, it comes down to quality of life in place A vs. B.
One thing to consider. It seems the new job is the motivating factor here. If you lost your job in place B, do you still think your family would be happier (or better off) there?


    Bookmark   October 16, 2007 at 12:13PM
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You don't say how old you are and how long you might expect to stay in either job. If the new job prepares you for greater success in the near future and you are still on the upswing of your carreer, that would be a strong motivator.

It is easy to be comfortable in a job that does not offer professional growth and regret that you did not move on later when it is more difficult to do so.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2007 at 12:45PM
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Wow, we somehow knew we'd get some useful comments from you all, but such a level of advice, we didn't anticipate! Thank you! You've really made us think!

We both work long hours already, so we are used to that. There's a difference, though in that the new job would be seriously in the corporate world (a high level position in a nasdaq traded co), whereas current and past jobs are in academia (upper university management for him and professor for her) and government.
Wife is in her early 40s and has been self employed most of the time except for the last 2 years in current position. Husband is around 50 and has no intention of slowing down into a comfy job. The relationship is very strong, but she'll possibly feel more reduced to a 'wifely' role, which will take away from her own professional projects. She is ambitious also, just not making much money because of the nature of her field.

Bonelady, thank you for pointing out the regret factor. An opportunity like this might never show up again. Would we regret...? I think I'm more worried about regretting getting blinded by a salary so high.

Disregarding income and jobs, we think we'd be more at ease in the B location because of life style and the kind of people there. It's also less provincial than our current location, and having lived a large part of our lives in NY and abroad (mainly Europe), the local mentality can be a bit stifling. On the other hand, we don't have a lot of interaction with locals, as most of our colleagues are from elsewhere also.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2007 at 5:45PM
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You may want to assign a score to every aspect of both job on your pro and con list, for example, give a Â10Â to career growth, a Â4Â to building, office environment, a Â7Â to benefit or a Â6Â to commute timeÂetc., then compare the total score of each job. Another way is to compare salary, benefit, retirement funding, sick time, personal leave, real estate expense, vacation, potential housing gain/loss, income tax, property tax, utilities, cost of living, opportunity costÂetc.

There is a big difference between working in a fast paced Nasdaq traded Company and in academia or government. It may take a while to get used to.

Do you have sufficient financial, emotional backing and career choices if things do not work out? Now is also the time to plan for an exit strategy.

Personally, I think the worst regret is "regret not try", instead of "try but failed".

Congratulations and good luck!

    Bookmark   October 16, 2007 at 9:46PM
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"Disregarding income and jobs, we think we'd be more at ease in the B location because of life style and the kind of people there."-- Not that income and jobs (and job satisfaction in particular) aren't important, but this seems like a pretty big point to me.

Another thing you didn't mention; are you the kind of people who like familiarity, or prefer to get out of your comfort zone and take on new things? Not that the new thing is always better or always worse, but if the choices are otherwise in close balance, you might consider if, personally, you're happier doing what you already know or testing new waters.

    Bookmark   October 17, 2007 at 8:51AM
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chisue are at mid-life and you want a total life-changing experience? Take the offer.

That's much too glib, but isn't there a grain of truth?

I'm hearing that Dad is second-guessing his career after a lifetime of chosing academe and government. I'm hearing that Mom and Dad feel isolated in the social culture where they are living. A 45-minute commute to a private school sounds onerous for small children, but do THEY mind? (The need for a private school is more troubling.)

My 'solution' would be nothing so drastic as the wrenching move to a high-power, demanding corporate job. Is this the only option -- or has it just popped up? I'm pretty sure that when you crunch the numbers the high pay will evaporate under the expenses of living there, so this option boils down to whether Dad wants this dramatic job change.

How about a move to a possibly better-paying job within academe in a more stimulating part of the country? (Is it possible to live and work nearer to your families? Would you want to do that?)

There's no need to 'leap' at this one option. Look around to see if there are other options.

    Bookmark   October 17, 2007 at 12:32PM
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That seems like it would certainly be a dramatic change - from academia to corporate job. I've never worked in academia so can't speak to the difference. I do have a friend who is a professor who went to work in corporate america for a big prestigious company with a big salary and she couldn't get out of there fast enough. I also worked with someone who was hired from academia to come to corporate world and she lasted about a year before she went back to same academia. She couldn't take the pressure of having to meet quarterly revenue/earnings expectations or explain why not.

Have you objectively evaluated the differences/pros & cons of academic vs. corporate work? And carefully considered if you have high potential for being happy in that new corporate job?

I get the impression the huge compensation increase could bias your point of view. As they say, money doesn't buy happiness. In my experience high paying corporate jobs come with high demands and associated stress. And after the considerable cost of living increase is taken into consideration there may not be so much of a difference when all is said and done.

    Bookmark   October 17, 2007 at 6:05PM
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I would research the new one VERY carefully - a fly-by-night experience (what if the new boss is a terror and 7 other people have been in that position over the last couple of years) - could leave you high and dry, plus the company itself may exist on the edge of financial disaster - susceptible to market swings, with accompanying staff turnover. I certainly would be attracted by such a big change in salary and other perks, but having lived a lot longer than you probably have, realize that money really, really doesn't buy happiness (or only to the extent that having enough to eat and a decent place to live should be a bottom line) and so many other factors do matter.

    Bookmark   October 18, 2007 at 4:31AM
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Such an intriguing possiblility. Though it reminds me of that John Grishom book/Tom Cruise movie where TC gets seduced then nearly destroyed by corporate nightmare job...

Big pay in the corporate sector could carry serious strings attached of long hours, travel and huge expenses, as others have said. Too often there is a lifestyle demand, worse is the possiblity of moral compromises that can be tough to choke down. (BIL is/was a very big fish in the big NYC pond - not the easiest life for his Westchester family despite the scads of money). I wouldn't trade my slower midwest life for my sister's heady world for anything. But that's me. Beyond financial security, wealth has no appeal for me.

Agree also that there sounds to be little to hold you where you are. And such a possibility may not again fall in your lap. The challenge, the new beginning, now that would intrigue me. Are you one to regret the path not taken?

Sometimes when facing a complex decison, I have found this exercise helpful. Break a paper down into 2 x 2 x 2 grid. One dimension is your decision: stay or move for the job. Another is the pluses and minuses (or the good and the bad that could happen) with each choice. BUT split those into long term and short term effects/consequences. It is that last part that can help untangle the underlying fears and stresses that are always inherent in considering big changes. Helps too to caucus with DW and imagine "and then we would...?" especially around potential negative outcomes in the short run and in the long run.

It is like everything else. Think it through as best you can and make the the best decision you can with all you know at the time. Then enjoy the ride with no regrets.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   October 18, 2007 at 12:41PM
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I have found that when I have a choice between two alternatives, each with significant advantages and disadvantages, I have often overlooked a third alternative that is clearly better than both of them.

I don't know whether that's true in your case, and if it is, I don't know what that alternative might be; but I can't help wondering if perhaps there's a Job C out there that is clearly better than either A or B.

    Bookmark   October 18, 2007 at 4:52PM
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Thanks again to everyone, your comments are truly helpful!
I (the Mom - I don't know how I led you to believe that I was the Dad, but most of this was jointly voiced anyhow) have been seriously swaying in the wind on this one.

I think Dad is using this offer to renegotiate his current position (to a VP position), but as he says, 'everyone has his price'. If the financial and work conditions (we don't have all the details yet) are so irresistable, I think he'd take a one or two year leave of absence from the University, keep our current house in the affordable area, and just rent an apartment or negotiate that the new company pays for housing for a while. We would try to avoid getting sucked into the new 'highlife' lifestyle, and the extra cash could be put towards retirement. He envisions never 'really' retiring anyhow, but continuing to teach a 'relaxed' course or two after he retires to keep active, like a hobby.
I could stay with the rest of the family here for a while, and maybe take every second semester off to be with him. He'd be traveling a lot anyhow. I'm a bit weary of the distance, but our marriage is so solid, I think it could handle it. We could then afford a part time nanny to help out with kids, so the burden of being a 'single mom' is not impeding on my work.

I also think you've misread my attachment to our current place. This place is truly undergoing major changes to the better, and it's exciting to be part of. Both of our professions are closely tied to this development. I guess we are a bit impatient for the place to reach it's potential, which is a bit modeled after what place B already has established.

We are not afraid of trying something new - have a history of taking on challenges and moving to different countries etc. Dad's work mentality is actually closer to the corporate world - therefor the frustrations of Academia being a bit slow and heavy. (I actually think this particular university is extremely dynamic and ready for change).

BTW, the company is a good solid one with exciting growth potential exactly in DH's field of expertise, and the brand new CEO is the one who want DH to be part of his team. He had offered him a position in his previous company also, and they know and respect each other highly.

Re private schools, in place A, we don't have much of a choice, as public schools here a way below national average, and this private school is the only place we'd be comfortable sending the kids (once they reach school age, starting next year). I'm assuming the public schools in place B are acceptable.

Anyhow, soon we'll go and do some research at place B and get a better notion of comparables. Thanks again!

    Bookmark   October 18, 2007 at 6:23PM
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Many viewpoints have been offered and I don't feel that I have much to add in that regard.

But I find a question here that intrigues me ...

... you guys are academics, and you spell as you did in the subject line of this thread??

ole joyful

    Bookmark   October 18, 2007 at 7:11PM
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Not every professor is English major, loosen up!!

    Bookmark   October 18, 2007 at 11:20PM
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Not every professor is an English major, loosen up!!
They came here for advice, let's be kind and supportive.

    Bookmark   October 18, 2007 at 11:57PM
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In my defense, English is not my first language

    Bookmark   October 19, 2007 at 7:51AM
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You have children about to enter school. It may be of interest to you that I am the son of a professor. Of the few children of professors I have known not one has made a career in academe, I do have a brother age 58 who is teaching at a university part time, though most of his career was in a government job. Also some of us who are children of professors are definitely odd.

    Bookmark   October 19, 2007 at 10:02AM
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Take the option that gives you what you need at this point in your lives. It sounds like you are looking for change and I have to imagine that if you have been in accademia all of your lives, you are wondering if you can take that knowledge and apply it. If this is the case, just make sure you have an exit plan if things don't turn out the way you want.

Do understand that working in a public company, especially at the exec level can be very exciting and financially rewarding when the company is doing well and meeting investors expectations. When things turn down however, things can get very ugly, very quickly. The average investor does not have a clue of what its like to run a public company. I have worked as an c-level for two public companies on both sides (up and down). While I would never say I wouldn't do it again, it would take a lot of money to motivate me enough to deal with the hassles that one has to deal with today in a public company.

Good luck in what ever you decide.

    Bookmark   October 19, 2007 at 10:20AM
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Many a 'solid marriage' has foundered when Mr. reaches mid-life, without the complications of a commuter marriage.

My DH worked for IBM until his retirement. He's grateful to be out of that rat race with its crazy quarterly panics. He's happy not traveling -- especially with today's absurd 'security' and airline penny-pinching.

    Bookmark   October 19, 2007 at 11:43AM
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What city is the new job in? You seem to be lacking info on some key aspects of location B, and, if you mentioned it here, you could get some more specific advice.

    Bookmark   October 20, 2007 at 4:38PM
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Thanks again!!! I'm taking it all in! Place B is the Bay Area - high tech company. Position is CTO.

We are in a small university town in the south, and earlier we were 13 years in the NY area. Before that we were living in a couple of different European countries. I guess that puts things more in perspective, but I purposely left those details out before, as my questions were initially more about money and principles, I guess. Job security vs high pay, but you have all been so generous with including other factors.

Actually no, we are not really NEEDING a change, as the current positions since 2 years are a fresh enough change from the previous ones. And being big fish in a little pond can be refreshing sometimes.

Now his boss is talking about promoting him to a university VP position, but what can you grow into from that other than university president? He definitely does not desire that job.

    Bookmark   October 22, 2007 at 4:31PM
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The Bay area is indeed expensive, but it is a great place to live. I have two daughters who both moved there to take professional jobs. One moved from NYC and the other from Houston. They have both found that it's an area that's much more dynamic job-wise than many other places they've lived, and have both gotten unsolicited other job offers in the city after working in their first jobs for a while. I know the attractions of smaller cities and the related economics, but it's hard to match what the Bay Area has to offer in terms of opportunity and diversity. You obviously should make the choice you feel most comfortable with in terms of your own values, but I do believe someone in your position could be pretty secure in knowing that there are many opportunities if the job you're being offered ends up not being the perfect fit.

    Bookmark   October 24, 2007 at 3:34PM
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