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Ask Slashdot: How Much Is a Fun Job Worth? 397

Posted by Soulskill
from the three-hundred-fifty-two-dollars-and-eight-cents dept.
Nicros writes "I have the good fortune to be a lead software engineer in a really fun company. The culture and people are great, and while the position has some down sides (distance from home, future opportunities), in general I'm quite happy there, and I wasn't looking for a new job. Now, I've had an offer to go be a software director for a new company. The pay is more than 10% better, the location is closer to home, and the people seem nice. I would get to grow a new group as I saw fit, following some regulatory guidelines. Problem is, I just can't decide what to do, and I'm not even sure why I can't decide. Maybe it has to do with leaving a job that I like (something I've never done) that just doesn't sit well with me. Maybe it's fear. I'm 40, so maybe it's just getting older and appreciating stability more. But then again, I have my current position dialed in, and could use a change. I have ambition, and my current company has made every effort to work with me to develop my career — probably more in the business development side, but that could be fun too. That career path is just more vague and longer-term than jumping right into a director position, with no guarantee that it would even work out. In the new company, software is not what this company does primarily; not many people would use the software, so the appreciation level would be much lower than my current position. Has anyone made a transition like this in software? How did it work out? Did you stay or did you go? Why? What's more important, the people and culture at a job, or the opportunities that job presents for future growth?"
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Ask Slashdot: How Much Is a Fun Job Worth?

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  • Fun vs Happy (Score:5, Insightful)

    by decipher_saint (72686) on Wednesday September 12, 2012 @06:20PM (#41317785) Homepage

    A fun place to work is, well... fun! But if you aren't happy (pay, commute, promotion, etc) then you aren't happy and soon you'll start to resent the fun place.

    Take my advice, find a job you are happy with and make it the fun place!

    • by swanzilla (1458281) on Wednesday September 12, 2012 @06:46PM (#41318051) Homepage

      Take my advice, find a job you are happy with and make it the fun place!

      Nerf guy alert...

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      According to all known studies on happiness, there are only 2 things that affect happiness overall - everything else people adapt to after a while and get back to their normal levels of happiness.

      1. Get a pet dog - people are always happier with this on average and the buzz doesn't wear off.
      2. Have a long commute - people are always unhappy with this on average and they never get used to it.

      • [Citation Seriously Needed]

      • Re:Fun vs Happy (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Troyusrex (2446430) on Thursday September 13, 2012 @07:55AM (#41322069)

        According to all known studies on happiness, there are only 2 things that affect happiness overall - everything else people adapt to after a while and get back to their normal levels of happiness.

        1. Get a pet dog - people are always happier with this on average and the buzz doesn't wear off. 2. Have a long commute - people are always unhappy with this on average and they never get used to it.

        That's ridiculous. Studies have found that lots of things bring long term happiness including Money [wikipedia.org], Marriage [sciencedaily.com], Social ties [springerlink.com] among many others.

    • Re:Fun vs Happy (Score:4, Insightful)

      by black6host (469985) on Wednesday September 12, 2012 @09:43PM (#41319457)

      If I had a choice of working where the software was the product the company was selling (and I'm not quite sure that this is the case in your current job, but seems to be more so based on what you said) or working where IT and software development is a cost center, I'd pick the former every time. I once worked at at place (Dir. of Software Development) and guess who was treated the best and made the most money: Sales or IT?

      We were a necessary drain on the company, at least that's how upper management viewed it. They couldn't see that with no IT infrastructure, including the code we developed that the whole company ran on, there would be no sales.

      Just food for thought there......

      • by gr8_phk (621180) on Thursday September 13, 2012 @10:56AM (#41323983)

        We were a necessary drain on the company, at least that's how upper management viewed it.

        I just got a new boss (promoted from within our group) and I to him mentioned how companies treat engineering and software as a cost center - a necessary evil to be minimized. All my old bosses would agree. Sales people get a commission because they can say - look, if I didn't make THAT sale then THAT money wouldn't come in. Product development is so far removed from the money that it get's viewed quite differently. Now you can argue that if the sales guy didn't have THAT product that we designed and wrote code for, then THAT money wouldn't be here. Somehow that doesn't fly. So back to my new boss.... A few day later he came back and said fuck that "necessary evil" thing - I don't ever want here people say that. We're going to market our controls (my group does controls/algorithms and such) in terms the customers can understand and our business line people can understand. They're going to want our product because it performs better than the other guys because of what we do. We're going to sell what we do inside the company and out.

        And you know, I have to agree with him. If you think IT is like maintenance - to be called when something is broken, then you will be considered a necessary evil. If you get on top of the issues and then start finding out how to proactively make your (internal) customers happy, you'll be viewed as an asset and treated with more respect, not as a drain on the company.

    • Re:Fun vs Happy (Score:4, Insightful)

      by manu0601 (2221348) on Wednesday September 12, 2012 @10:47PM (#41319853)
      As Confucius said "Find a job you like, and you will never work again"
  • dyk (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 12, 2012 @06:20PM (#41317787)

    It's the devil you know vs. the devil you don't. That's the hesitation, I'll bet.

    • Re:dyk (Score:5, Insightful)

      by tylernt (581794) on Wednesday September 12, 2012 @07:16PM (#41318357)

      It's the devil you know vs. the devil you don't.

      That's the situation I was in a couple years ago. Got an offer from a startup-type place at a significant pay increase from my current stable job. After much hemming and hawing, I finally decided to take it... however when I went to give notice, my old employer volunteered a counteroffer... so I stayed, and got the best of both worlds.

      To the OP, you might just tell your current boss that you're thinking about leaving and see what he says. His answer, either way, will help you decide what to do.

      • Re:dyk (Score:4, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 12, 2012 @08:23PM (#41318957)

        Don't go in saying
        "give me this or im leaving"
        you get the quick boot.

        Say you are receiving very competitive offers from other companies. You enjoy working here, but the increased pay is very attractive.

        You will have much better success

      • by FatAlb3rt (533682)
        That could be a poisonous situation. How will it be after you take the counteroffer? How will expectations change? How will your boss appraise your performance?
  • Flip a coin!

    • Coins work (Score:5, Insightful)

      by PraiseBob (1923958) on Wednesday September 12, 2012 @06:42PM (#41318011)
      It works not because it settles the question for you, but because in that brief moment when the coin is in the air, you suddenly know what you are hoping for.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by johnmat (650076)
        I was given effectively the same advice by a recruiter when faced with a choice like this, but its a little more refined: write both your choices on folded pieces of paper and stick them in a hat. Pull one out, and as you open it decide if you are pleased or unhappy you got that one. That instant emotional response is your subconscious chiming in and almost certainly giving you the right answer that your higher brain can not get to.
    • Re:Hard decisions? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Mitreya (579078) <<moc.liamg> <ta> <ayertim>> on Wednesday September 12, 2012 @06:44PM (#41318023)

      Flip a coin!

      You haven't finished explaining the algorithm

      Flip a coin!
      a) If you agree, great.
      b) If you want to flip again, go for 2/3 or otherwise reconsider the rules, then you wanted the other decision.

      Really, while the question is not short, there is still much data missing (how far is "further away", how fun is "fun", etc, etc.). There is no exact formula that can help.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I've changed jobs several times to find one that was more fun or closer to home. I've never had to choose between more fun and a shorter commute. I'd think about the commute and the entertainment value well before I thought about the money.

  • by gweihir (88907) on Wednesday September 12, 2012 @06:22PM (#41317809)

    Don't forget that you spend a major part of your life there. Unless this is an "up or out" kind of situation, stay. 10% more money is not that much. And building up a team comes with a serious risk of failure, often by factors outside of your control.

  • Take Fun (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Herkum01 (592704) on Wednesday September 12, 2012 @06:24PM (#41317827)

    Unless they are paying you drastically more (20 or 30%), stay with the place you enjoy. Hell, you could just move closer to your current job.

    It is hard to find a job you enjoy with people you like to work with. If this new place has problems, personal as well as business side, you are screwed. It will be hard to find a "fun" job again.

    • Re:Take Fun (Score:5, Insightful)

      by hardie (716254) on Wednesday September 12, 2012 @06:50PM (#41318077)

      I agree. Maybe these days a 10-12% raise is all you can expect---if you are going to a similar job. That's not the case here. There should be a larger increase for the step up to director. 10-12% is a pittance for the risk and chaos of changing jobs, especially if the other job doesn't reach out and grab you. They probably think you are an amazing bargain at that salary.

      It sounds like the new job is further away from your interests, compare:
      "lead software engineer in a really fun company" vs.
      "software is not what this company does primarily; ... the appreciation level would be much lower than my current position"
      Faint praise for the other job.

      Do you really want to be a director? With 'regulatory guidelines'? I'm strongly biased toward small companies, you can probably tell.

      Steve

    • by Nutria (679911)

      Fun? Bah humbug. Not everything in this world must be fun. That and "Mom" are the two most overused words in modern English.

      Nothing in my job is "fun". However, I get great satisfaction and enjoyment (which is not the same thing as "fun") at my job thinking up ways to make processes efficient and maintainable, and then going back later and making them even better.

      • by Githaron (2462596)

        However, I get great satisfaction and enjoyment (which is not the same thing as "fun")

        Close enough.

        • by Nutria (679911)

          There's no "merriment" or "frolicsome amusement" in *work* (yes, there can be when gabbing at the water cooler, but if that's the preponderance of your day, then you'll be fired soon).

          OTOH, there *is* "pleasurable feelings or emotions caused by success, good fortune, and the like, or by a rational prospect of possessing what we love or desire" when working at what you enjoy.

      • But how much would it be worth it to you if you could have a job that was fun? For me, a lot (of money).
  • Lucky you... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    It all comes down to whether you think you will be happy with 10% more pay.

    I've made similar leaps before for much greater increases and found the new company had some stuff under the carpet that I couldn't see until I was working there. If you choose to jump, jump carefully.

    Also mind that you seem to be very happy with you current job and they seem to want to work with you. You *might* (be careful with this, use your own judgement here) tell your current boss that you have an offer in hand for 10% more and

    • by cpu6502 (1960974)

      I wouldn't tell the boss about the other job. But I would ask if you could have a bump in pay during the annual employee review.

      And I would not change jobs. It's nice to work at a place "where everybody knows your name & they're always glad you came". ;-)

    • Re:Lucky you... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by SQLGuru (980662) on Wednesday September 12, 2012 @07:45PM (#41318671) Journal

      It's not just more pay, though. It's an upgrade in title. While that isn't that important in the grand scheme of day-to-day, when you go for the NEXT job, being a director has different implications than being a lead engineer. The next company will be more likely to hire you in at a management level instead of an IC level.......which usually entails more pay / perks.

  • And so is career growth and a shorter commute. On the minus side there's uncertainties of many kinds (job definition, future of the new company, potential happiness at new job).

    You need to figure out how much these things are worth to you. And only you can do that.

  • by Tanman (90298) on Wednesday September 12, 2012 @06:25PM (#41317841)

    At 40, you should know by now that it isn't what your reward is, but how much you are enjoying it.

    If a job offered me a 100% raise, but I had to commute an hour each way, I'd say no. My current commute is 7 minutes. That would mean I lose almost 2 hours of personal time in the evening every single day, and that is not worth doubling my salary to me. However, other people have different priorities for what they are looking to achieve.

    If being closer to home and earning a little more money is more important to you and will bring you a greater sense of satisfaction and fulfillment than your current situation, then make the change. But if money isn't that important to you, you are "close enough" to home, and you are really happy at your current position, be sure you aren't just moving because "the grass is greener."

    • by Pseudonym (62607) on Wednesday September 12, 2012 @09:07PM (#41319235)

      If a job offered me a 100% raise, but I had to commute an hour each way, I'd say no.

      It depends how you're commuting. Two hours of driving a day would send me crazy.

      However, I do commute an hour each way every day by train. I get two hours a day to listen to podcasts, read books or papers, and generally do anything that doesn't take up more than one seat or annoy other people. I also managed to score an honorary appointment at the university campus, so I have access to a well-stocked library. My hours are flexible, and my dress code is nonexistent (beyond basic health and safety requirements).

      But the best part is this: I get to go to work every day and work on potential cures for cancer.

      I could probably get a 100% raise working in the finance sector, and the commute would be shorter. But I get to wake up each morning and feel like I'm going to do something that matters.

  • by virtualXTC (609488) on Wednesday September 12, 2012 @06:28PM (#41317867) Homepage
    I've been there several times. Tell your current company about your offer, they will counter if they appreciate you as much as you say they do. Finish the negotiation process before you try to sort out your feelings about which position is best. If they don't your decision is made for you (you can't stay and still have any cred' if they don't try to keep you).
    • by muhula (621678) on Wednesday September 12, 2012 @06:41PM (#41317997)
      The conventional wisdom says never take a counteroffer. Your loyalty is questioned so you'll be the first to go during layoffs, they'll take the pay bump out of your future raises, and other people will eventually find out. I've also heard about people taking a counteroffer and not actually getting one... by the time you realize this, the other position is filled.
      • by gatfirls (1315141) on Wednesday September 12, 2012 @06:53PM (#41318121)
        This is ridiculous, unless you like work for the mafia or something. Maybe there is some lunatic employers out there that hold their positions like a girlfriend but most realize that people (especially talented ones) might be tempted by outside offers. The only time I could think of that a normal employer would do stuff like that is if you are obviously leveraging the new position to twist their arm. A little honesty goes a long way, if he brought this question to his current employer they would respect the honesty and heads up most likely. I've left a couple companies who have countered and they would gladly take me back tomorrow.
        • by FatAlb3rt (533682)
          That, of course, makes the assumption that management is level-headed. Some will cut off their nose to spite their face.
        • by N1AK (864906) on Thursday September 13, 2012 @03:56AM (#41321175) Homepage

          This is ridiculous, unless you like work for the mafia or something.

          There's been plenty of work done studying it and it disagrees with your assertion. People who take counter-offers have lower job satisfaction, are less likely to be promoted and have a tendency to leave for a different company within a short window of accepting it. The only thing that is ridiculous is you thinking you can somehow make a definitive statement on this.

          Having said that it doesn't mean that it is never beneficial to accept counter-offers, that every company is the same etc. One fundamental point is that many of the cases where the counter-offer worked out badly are where the person disliked their job, boss, company culture etc so simply adding more money didn't solve the underlying issue.

    • by garcia (6573)

      Counters and accepting them may be more common these days due to the high cost of onboarding new employees but a company RARELY forgets you accepted that counter and you may pay for that raise in more ways than you expect.

      http://money.usnews.com/money/blogs/outside-voices-careers/2012/03/26/why-you-shouldnt-take-a-counteroffer [usnews.com]

    • by Above (100351) on Wednesday September 12, 2012 @11:27PM (#41320029)

      Taking a counter offer has a lot of down sides. The replies here concentrate on the most common fear, that folks will question your loyalty, and/or your boss will retaliate in some way. I actually think those are unlikely outcomes.

      What actually happens is more subtle. The money is supposed to make you happy. There was a reason you obtained a job offer in the first place, you were unhappy about something. Your leadership is going to assume that by paying you more money you will no longer be unhappy. This is only true if what made you go looking was money. Otherwise that annoying boss will still be there. The soul sucking project must still be completed. The crappy commute continues to happen every morning. Not only do you still have to deal with all the things that made you unhappy, but now you have to think about what could have been if you had taken the other job every time they really piss you off.

      I know multiple people who took the counter offer. Not a single one ended up happy. There is only one case where I think it is a good idea, and that is if you're being paid significantly below market rates. Most companies balk at more than a 10-15% raise for a new hire or promotion, so if you're more than 15% down it's hard to make it up. Taking a counter offer ups your base, and lets you immediately shop for a new job where you can tell them your current (now higher) salary and it's true and verifiable.

      Otherwise, I'd really advise never taking a counter offer, and if that's the case there's really not much point in getting one. All it does is make your decision seem harder, and/or make you less positive about the new job. Neither are good for your long term emotional health.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 12, 2012 @06:33PM (#41317907)

    Somebody with those kinds of doubts doesn't really want to move. It's OK to stick with what you know. Just give yourself permission to be more concerned with security. Really. It's OK. A lot of people would love to be in your position. Yeah, somebody else might take job B, run with it, and make senior VP. They have no doubts; but if you try to do the Evil Kneival jump with doubts, you're gonna miss the ramp. When the jump is right, you won't even think about looking back, and you'll hit it just right.

  • Nothing (Score:5, Funny)

    by SoupGuru (723634) on Wednesday September 12, 2012 @06:34PM (#41317921)

    Take the new money and be sure to burn your bridges on your way out the door.

  • I worked at my college's pool hall for a couple months. It was a great way to socialize, but paid just minimum wage. Definitely not the sort of place anyone's expected to work long term.

  • How far (time, distance) from work now?
    How far (time, distance) from new place?

    Are you willing to move closer to your current job?

    Do you have other people to whom you are obligated that have commitments near where you are now? (schools, other jobs, family)

    My bias: Happiness at work (job satisfaction, challenge, belief in the work, being around good people) is more important than wage. I don't say this as someone who has already made a bunch of money. I'm 29 and making under 50k in an area with high cost of

  • by Kittenman (971447) on Wednesday September 12, 2012 @06:39PM (#41317975)
    I took a course decades ago that mentioned 'Hygeine needs' - google that. From that sort of thing...

    Herzberg asked people about times when they had felt good about their work. He discovered that the key determinants of job satisfaction were Achievement, Recognition, Work itself, Responsibility and Advancement.

    He also found that key dissatisfiers were Company policy and administration, Supervision, Salary, Interpersonal relationships and Working conditions.


    So - more salary isn't as important a thing as other stuff. If you're underpaid (or think you are), you're unhappy. If you are paid enough you're happy. More than enough isn't a great lift.

    I tend to agree - I could earn a helluva lot more in the US or Europe - meantime I'm enjoying low-stress NZ while we raise the kid and walk beaches with the dog. And I earn enough.
  • What motivates you? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by debest (471937) on Wednesday September 12, 2012 @06:40PM (#41317991)

    This all comes down to if you want to play it safe (stability motivates you), or if you want to roll the dice and gamble (change motivates you).

    I speak from experience. I made a risky choice in 2000 and joined a startup, quitting a secure job at IBM that I would (in all likelihood) still have today. The job I went to paid better, was a lot of fun, exciting, challenging, and in the end a failure. My career has never fully recovered, and I am certain that had I stayed at IBM I would be finincially way further ahead than I am now. By all reasonalble criteria, I should regret my decision.

    Yet I *had* to do it: I crave re-invention and change. I wouldn't be happy stuck in the douldrums of a stagnant work environment. I work for myself now, but I have no problems envisioning myself going back to being a cog in a big machine again. I'm open to, and embrace, the possibilities.

    But as for you, you have to make that decision for yourself. The operative word about your job is not "fun", it's "happiness". You're in a fortunate position of being satisfied with your career, so you need to decide if you will regret not taking the opportunity to do more (and risk that you will fail). Good luck.

    • by eulernet (1132389)

      Motivation is not as simple as you think, it's not "pleasure" or "pain".

      There are at least 3 levels of motivation by "doing", and 3 levels of motivation by "being".

      The 3 levels of motivation by "doing" are, in increasing order:
      1) enjoying the job/the tasks. There are 3 steps in this one: autonomy, mastery, purpose (check Dan Pink's video)
      2) looking for an evolution in your career. There are 5 steps in this one, check Maslow's pyramid
      3) meaning in life. Check Viktor Frankl's approach: "Man's search for meani

  • In my experience (Score:4, Informative)

    by inode_buddha (576844) on Wednesday September 12, 2012 @06:43PM (#41318021) Journal

    The people and culture were worth more. You spend such a large amount of your waking time on the job, its miserable not to like it 100%. Even if you have to sacrifice advancement, or commute, or whatever. There were times when I commuted 25 miles farther each way for half the bennies, just because of the team.

      Conversely if you can't stand a place because of the atmosphere or management style, or whatever, then it doesn't matter if they're next door and offer a 200% premium... it just won't be worth it, and you won't last very long there.

    Been there, done that. A few times no less.

  • by NotSoHeavyD3 (1400425) on Wednesday September 12, 2012 @06:52PM (#41318105)
    Where they pointed out people were happiest at either 75K or 85K. I can't remember which. The reason was that above that salary level you pretty much have enough money to meet all your important needs and the extra money was pretty much worthless since you basically have to find excuses to spend it on. So I guess one question would be "Are you making enough to cover your needs, IE what can you do with the extra money?" If you're in the situations where you really can't find anything to spend it on then I wouldn't worry about the money.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Where they pointed out people were happiest at either 75K or 85K

      Travel. Nothing would make me sadder than watching my kids turn into insular jingoist xenophobes like their classmates. The only way I know of guaranteeing that that doesn't happen is to haul them around the world and let them loose. It's an expensive education, but it's worth every penny.

      Granted, ignorance is bliss. If I had never known what is out there, I wouldn't care, and certainly wouldn't spend so much on airfare for my family.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Retirement. Kids college education. Medical.

      I have 3 kids. Estimating tuition (in a decade or two) at over 300k per child.

      Retirement - how much do I want to live on? Candy bars were 20 cents when I was a kid. Now they're a dollar. What will food be when I retire? How much do I need saved up to live on?

      Medical - We are all like ONE major medical disaster away from financial ruin, even with top-notch insurance. A rainy day fund is the difference between a roof over your head and living on the street.

  • by Zadaz (950521) on Wednesday September 12, 2012 @06:53PM (#41318119)

    For me, without kids or a mortgage, and with a significant other that will support whatever wage I earn, I can make job satisfaction the primary, and in fact only reason for having a job.

    However that would change if I had kids or debt or a dependent. Making sure the people you're responsible for are taken care of is your #1 priority. Being fiscally responsible is your #2 priority. Fit "fun" in after those are taken care of.

    So, you know, make your life choices wisely if you think you'd like to have more fun.

  • If the present job keeps your skills current then the 10% pay difference may not be worth the hassle and extra hours. On the other hand if you're just showing up, slacking in the clubhouse while your skills slip away you're going to wake up one way with out the fun job, fun pay check or fun job prospects.

  • by Grendol (583881) on Wednesday September 12, 2012 @06:55PM (#41318145)
    Back when I was working on an MSEE degree, my professor enlightened me to a simple equation to help compare happiness.

    Happiness = (Location) x (Pay) x (entertainment value or pleasantness of what you are doing)

    try to normalize all inputs to a scale of 0 to 2, yielding a result ranging from 0 to 8. You will quickly see that any one thing can kill the whole deal (multiplying by 0 tends to do that), and that some things can only compensate for inadequacies to a limited extent. So... in a practical sense, this quantitative answer to such qualitative things as job pay, location, and how much you like what you are doing, might help make the analysis comparison easier. Tweaking this to fit your specific situation makes all the sense in the world. Good Luck!

  • Closer to home: Consider every minute commuting as work time, and every dollar spent on gas as after tax wages.
    The challenge of something new: That can be a major contributing factor to your happiness, even if the employer isn't any more fun
    The risk of taking a new position: You might think you are beloved and stable in your current position, but all it takes is new ownership and even the best workplace can turn into hell, so just because it is nice where you are doesn't guarantee it will stay that way.
  • by skelly33 (891182) on Wednesday September 12, 2012 @07:03PM (#41318213)
    When faced with a choice like this, I have always chosen the path that would further advance my career, usually in combination with better pay. It is not that important to me to have fun at work or enjoy it - work is work... I'm not here to screw around, make friends, waste time, or engage in office drama. There are only so many years we have as top-earning grunts to plan for retirement, etc. and I don't plan to waste those on some whimsical notion that I should be having fun all the time. In other words, for me, it is a business decision, not an emotional one. Good luck!
  • by Ukab the Great (87152) on Wednesday September 12, 2012 @07:05PM (#41318225)

    I left a secure and extremely low-paying development/dba where I was the only programmer and got to call all the development shots to work in a dev team for a company that paid me 60% more than I was making at a previous company. In the year and a half I worked there, almost all the company's original founders were purged, we went through three directors of software engineering, two directors of qa, and two head product managers. The UX guy was ran off by a VP who wanted to do the usability themselves. And I had to serve under junior programmers who were only senior in the sense that they had been with the company for years, and every boneheaded thing they wanted to do was rubber-stamped by management. Project management for the desperately needed rewrite of the company's code was given to someone who had never done project management before. At some point development of that core product was transferred to an Indian offshore company to be worked on by programmers not familiar with the project's programming language; of course this didn't matter, because I wasn't doing very well at this company because I wasn't invited meetings where important architectural details were being discussed (which I was nevertheless responsible for implementing even though no one told me about them). The company was owned by a private equity firm, whose goal all along was probably reducing headcount and maximizing short term profit at the cost of large employee turnover and bad code. So looking back at my situation, I'm really not surprised at all that it happened.

    Was this experience worth the 60% pay increase? I supposed I learned how to not run a software company, which might be valuable in the future. But my advice is to look for warning signs that might indicate that the new company might be extremely dysfunctional. Warning signs like the company being owned by a private equity firm, or all the founders of the business who made it great being purged, or lots of turnover among senior engineers and a dev mix made up of recent college grads and mediocre lifers who coast on their seniority. And try to figure out if possible why the previous guy left.

    • by aaarrrgggh (9205)

      Very wise advice... but would it change if the position was advertised as a growth-related opportunity? Given that most companies are really just one step from the nut-house... what is dysfunction really? Type-A owners/managers butting heads?

  • Easy peasy (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Bozovision (107228) on Wednesday September 12, 2012 @07:09PM (#41318277) Homepage

    What are your drivers?

    If you enjoy making software, and maybe running a team, then don't switch.

    If you enjoy not knowing what's coming, dynamic situations with lots of change, and continually dealing with things that you haven't dealt with before, then change.

    The money difference is not a big inducement, I'd say. Especially since you don't say how this new company will be funded - so you may be buying into 6 months of salary at 10% more, and then no job.

    If after that you do think you are still interested in the job, it's really important to ask what you will control. If the big decisions are already made, and you are just a caretaker, then think twice as hard. Check how much budget you have. Check the constraints you'd be under. Check when you have to deliver software, and decide how viable it is. And ask for shares. A directorship without ownership is a fantastic way to load legal responsibility onto someone without the benefits of that responsibility. Culture of a company is important, what are your co-directors like? You'll set the tone for the people in your department - if you think they don't fit in, you'll be able to lose them - so that part of culture the culture is less important. The hat you wear as a director is completely different from making software; it's as table-tennis is to riding a bike.

    Yep, I've done it. But it absolutely wouldn't be for everyone. Do the things that make you happy.

    • by ancientt (569920)

      Take to heart what was said in the parent post:

      What are your drivers?

      Nothing else matters as much to me as making myself more capable. I was bored with my job a while back. I prayed hard that whatever needed to change would change. It did. A lot. Whether as a result or not, the change made me really work to become a more capable and valuable employee. I got to take on huge new areas of responsibility and still keep responsibility for the things that I really enjoy learning to do better. I've had more than a

  • Where do you see yourself being in 10 years? Do you expect to be doing the same things you are doing now for (roughly) the same inflation-adjusted pay, or do you expect to be managing a large(r) group, or running your own company, or living on a farm in Iowa?

    If you find yourself at a job which is not aligned with your long term goals, it's probably time to start looking.

    Note that just being offered a new position with better pay is not necessarily a reason to leave your current position immediately, unless

  • How much shorter is the commute? That alone will add "pay" to the new position. I think a lot of people fail to recognize just how expensive car commuting is [mrmoneymustache.com]. If the new work place is close enough that you can bike, you can really save a lot of money.

    These days, when considering what a job pays, you can't just look at the salary. I really recommend reading Your Money Or Your Life [amazon.com] . Yeah, the language is kind of mushy and touchy-feely at times, but the general points are important. All for-pay jobs sh

  • Company mainstream (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dtmos (447842) * on Wednesday September 12, 2012 @07:18PM (#41318389)

    The red flag for me was,

    In the new company, software is not what this company does primarily.

    I've always tried to be in companies in which what I did was directly tied to the company's main business. There is an analogy to a river: You want to be in the main stream, not in some backwater, so that when things get tight and money dries up, you're not left high and dry -- as in, a department or division that can be conveniently closed as a "cost reduction," with little (immediate) effect on their main business.

    A corollary to this applies to physical locations, too: Remote sites will be closed before corporate headquarters will be, so pay attention to your job's location.

    Besides, if you're not in the company's main business, you could develop a fabulous thing, and nobody at your company will appreciate it. (Think Xerox PARC. There are many examples at smaller scales.)

    • by erice (13380)

      The red flag for me was,

      In the new company, software is not what this company does primarily.

      I've always tried to be in companies in which what I did was directly tied to the company's main business. There is an analogy to a river: You want to be in the main stream, not in some backwater, so that when things get tight and money dries up, you're not left high and dry -- as in, a department or division that can be conveniently closed as a "cost reduction," with little (immediate) effect on their main business

      This. But it is more than just job security. It is also motivation and job satisfaction. When what you do is the company's main business, especially in smaller companies, you can feel that your contribution matters. The company's success is your success and you are generally treated better too. In a supporting role, especially in a larger organization, your contribution doesn't obviously tie into the company's success. Your success may have little meaning or recognition beyond the egos involved in cor

  • A formal title or position or delegated power does not imply "leadership". You may be a director with a bigger budget but without buy-in from the people below and above, nothing may get done. The other thing is, the whatever "regulatory guideline" seems to be a yellow flag to me. It seems you have more latitude in your current job and that you're working well. I'm not sure why you think the BizDev path is more vague and longer-term. The other yellow flag is the non-software core business thing. It rea
  • by HapSlappy_2222 (1089149) on Wednesday September 12, 2012 @07:34PM (#41318547)
    A fun job is worth precisely the amount of money you need to live the way you want. Oddly enough, though, so is a crappy job.

    Working's about paying the bills; if you do something you love, you're "jobbing" right, but bills are gonna come either way. Like most things in life, it's all about the various types of bastards:

    -If you enjoy your job AND are living the way you want, stay there, you lucky bastard.
    -If you don't enjoy your job and ARE paying the bills, establish a minimum salary you can accept and then bail on the shitty job like the bastard you are.
    -If you have a job (enjoyable or not) that doesn't let you live the way you want, you'll have to find a new job of either type, you poor bastard.

    Establish your "necessary salary" threshold, and then go from there. Keep in mind this salary changes based on location. Good luck.
  • Change is good for your personal development. New contexts, new situations, new skills, new contacts. So long as you keep on good terms with your current "fun" organization is there any reason to believe that they won't have you back if you don't like the other venture? If there is such strong rapport with those people would they bare you any ill will for trying something else for a change? Are you irreplaceable and would cause tremendous stress and hardship if you left? Do you have shares/ownership of
  • You're trying to decide between a pleasant workplace at one salary and a ______ workplace at another salary. Seems to me, tbe question is "what it the work environment like at the new company?" Instead of asking here, ask people who work there, used to work there, or have family working there. Facebook will help you find friends of friends who work there. Heck, Facebook posts by employees may give you a strong clue how they are feeling after work.
  • I had two competing offers during my last job hunt.
    one was about 20% less than the other, but had an hour less commute a day, and an opportunity to work in gaming vs. finance.

    I spoke with a lot of friends/family on this issue and they all said the same thing:
    "How much do you need?"
    if they're both offering that, then go with the most fun.

  • If you're having to ask, you don't really want to go. If you like your current job, 10% isn't enough to justify leaving unless you have something else significant prompting your move. It sounds like your current employer is interested in your career development and willing to cultivating you. If you are in good graces with your current employer, what you might do is go to your manager and say something like:

    "Look, I really like it here. But I have this other job offer that came out of the blue and they

  • In this economy, any prospects for growth are iffy at best. I just recently hired a guy who had been promised growth opportunities at his last job and they never materialized. The number one question I ask when considering changing jobs is, "Why did the person who had this position before leave?" The way that question is answered will speak volumes about what you are getting into. Usually, people do not leave good jobs, and if they do, they do not do so lightly.

    Going from a company that does software pr

  • I have a fairly simple way of breaking the deadlock on these types of decisions.

    FLIP A COIN

    If you're looking to go two out of three... its not the one the coin landed on... you've made your choice
    If you're not looking to go two out of three... it is the one the coin landed on... you've made your choice

  • by cptdondo (59460) on Wednesday September 12, 2012 @08:55PM (#41319159) Journal

    was in leaving a job I loved to take a job that sucked but paid a lot more. 2 years of that job almost killed me.

    Now on the other hand, if you're really serious, take a handful of people in the new company out to lunch. Buy them pizza, and talk to them. About life, interests, girlfriends, families, and see if they're a good fit. Don't talk to your bosses, talk to your peers in the new company, and the people who would work for you. That's the people who can help you make the decision.

  • by melted (227442) on Wednesday September 12, 2012 @09:00PM (#41319181) Homepage

    I'd rather regret the things I've done than the things I didn't do. Nothing ventured—nothing gained. But since you're in doubt and have a stable job, you might as well use that and get them to pay you more. What's a few tens of thousands of dollars between friends, right?

  • by ktappe (747125) on Thursday September 13, 2012 @12:51AM (#41320391)
    Many posts will talk about happiness and growth and pay. I will concentrate on age. I was all with you staying at your current job and being happy until I saw the one crucial tidbit: You're 40. That's the killer age after which finding a job in IT becomes very difficult. The job you have at age 40 is likely the IT job you'll be stuck at until you retire. Companies deny it, but they hire 20-somethings because they're cheap and (the companies think) they're moldable to anything they want them to be (they aren't).

    Don't think my post is coming from a young'un who is putting down older workers; I'm 44. You're literally at the end of your rope, career-wise and so am I. You have a chance to get a 10% raise and transition into management (away from the deathtrap of IT). OMFG, DO IT NOW NOW NOW. Do it while you can. Get the money now before the industry pegs you a "has been".

    Seriously. Go. Even if your'e a bit less happy you'll be better off career-wise and retirement-wise. It's the adult, smart choice. Go.

  • You are the 1% (Score:4, Insightful)

    by slick_rick (193080) * <rwrslashdot AT rowell DOT info> on Thursday September 13, 2012 @01:12AM (#41320515) Homepage Journal

    If you love your job, you are the 1%. Most people dread going to work. A 10% bump in pay is not going to change that for the vast majority of them. Money is just money, happiness is a state of being. Not long ago, I was offered a 50% raise to leave my senior position at a small company to go work for a much larger one. Negotiations went well until the very end. In the "afterhour" when it was apparent the job was mine, I happened to ask about the desktop. Being a senior employee at a small company, I am accustomed to having vast flexibility. The norm is two desktops, one Linux and another Windows for testing, with a trio of monitors, plus a Mac laptop so all the major platforms can be tested. I was informed they run Windows XP, IT evaluates ALL hardware requests, and that is that. It was then I realized that trading guru status in a small company for being just another random coder at a large corporation would require a huge revision of expectations. In the end my family helped me decide that time with them (work at home now), happiness with my day to day computing experience, and overall flexibility was worth more then a 25% raise after taxes and commuting expenses.

    Your situation is yours however, good luck, and I hope it works out well for you.

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