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Ask Slashdot: When Is a Better Career Opportunity Worth a Pay Cut? 263

Posted by timothy
from the don't-burn-too-many-bridges dept.
An anonymous reader writes "I am currently working for a software company that rakes in a lot of money and has an EBIT that puts other companies to shame. The company is great: good benefits, lots of vacation time, very good salary. However the problem is that their architecture is already established, change is often slow moving, and most of the decisions are made by architects as oppose to developers. I find my job somewhat mundane and I am losing interest. I recently was offered another job, with a small company that doesn't have the capital/revenue stream to provide all the perks that my current employer has. Needless to say, this small company wants someone to take their system into the modern age, which means re-design/new architecture, implementation, maintenance, team lead, etc.... thus, more experience to add to my resume. These are things that I won't be able to do easily in my current job. My concern is that it appears this company has really high expectations, and since I had to take a small pay cut to get this position it leaves a but of uneasiness in my stomach for future promotions/advancements. However I believe in their product, their vision/goals, the people and the future of the company. I feel excited but also scared as its a bit of a gamble. Has anyone else experienced the same thing?"
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Ask Slashdot: When Is a Better Career Opportunity Worth a Pay Cut?

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  • by i kan reed (749298) on Tuesday February 25, 2014 @01:54PM (#46336315) Homepage Journal

    Be sure you can trust that you're not being screwed. Some(many?) employers are sociopaths and will take you for a ride on future promises.

  • by talexb (223672) on Tuesday February 25, 2014 @02:00PM (#46336421) Homepage Journal

    This sounds like a great opportunity that comes at a small cost.

    Keep in mind that joining a startup is something that will be rewarding on a couple of levels. You can help guide the technical vision, get to know a good group of people working together on something great.

    You also have to keep your feet on the ground. Don't let common sense be overwhelmed by your local Reality Distortion Field. Don't let your mind wander off about what colour of Lamborghini you're going to buy with your stock options.

    And I hope you left your previous company on good terms -- you never know when you'll meet up with that organization or those people again. The world is a surprisingly small place.

  • Interesting (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rtfarrell5 (1943022) on Tuesday February 25, 2014 @02:02PM (#46336441)
    I find it interesting your concern is that the architects, not developers, make the decisions. I can't recall working for a company, that was successful, that listened to the developers over the architects. I haven't met a developer yet that was both a visionary and a forward thinker. On the other side, if you are young, can pay your bills, and don't mind that the new company could very well be consumed, or shut out, because of your previous employer, I say have fun with it. If you answered no to any of these, think carefully, but remember that those who think long, often think wrong. Good luck.
  • by nurb432 (527695) on Tuesday February 25, 2014 @02:11PM (#46336573) Homepage Journal

    Careers are all about money. It cant be better if you are losing income in the process. It can be different, but not *better*.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 25, 2014 @02:17PM (#46336655)

    I totally agree... it's not just your job that you need to consider, but your life as a whole.

  • by Jhon (241832) on Tuesday February 25, 2014 @02:21PM (#46336715) Homepage Journal

    The "but" should include "how old are you"?

    Are you in your late 40's or early 50's? The answer is almost always "hell no". Even mid at mid 30's you should think hard.

  • Hold the phone... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bobbied (2522392) on Tuesday February 25, 2014 @02:30PM (#46336863)

    A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.

    So, this company wants you to work for them and take LESS, but they are promising you a better opportunity? I suppose it *might* be true, but I'd be worried about going backwards unless you are changing careers or work locations.

    If you are worried enough about this to consult the sages of SlashDot and actually TAKE some stranger's advice, I suggest you ask the prospective employer for more money (say exactly what you make now) and failing that, keep looking. If they really want you, they will pay, if they won't pay, they don't really want you that bad.

    NEVER go backwards without a reason that is tangible if you can help it. It hardly ever pays you back.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 25, 2014 @02:37PM (#46336965)

    If you are miserable at your work, you will start to become a miserable person and everyone will be affected, especially your family.

  • by lgw (121541) on Tuesday February 25, 2014 @02:41PM (#46337017) Journal

    I disagree strongly.

    There are four good reasons to take a pay cut to switch jobs within a development/IT career when you're older:

    1) Small companies trade pay for responsibility. You make less, but you're in charge of more. Short term, that's lose-lose, but in long term it can be vital to moving up the career ladder. For example, the path: "lead" at big company -> manager at small company -> manager at big company is often the fastest path. Same thing to move from a "some coding" job to a full-time coding job, or becoming an architect, or whatever.

    2) Specific technical skills lose value over time. If you get too far behind what the market wants, accept that you will take a hit to modernize your skills.

    3) You shouldn't expect to make more money just because you get older! For the first 10 years or so, your skills improve noticeably every year, so your pay should go up more than inflation. For the next 10 years: maybe. Improving your ability to contribute isn't just technical any more, and it can be hard to change the things about yourself that you need to, to have more technical influence and reach. But after that? 99% of us top out. Once you grow to your limits, you'll give up any raises (over inflation) whenever you change jobs, because your ability to contribute has plateaued and that's normal.

    4) If you've been working as an engineer for 30 years and you still need the money, you're doing it wrong. At some point you'll be seeking interesting, challenging problems, and 20% pay more or less will be less important than that. Eventually you can afford to "follow your heart". Especially once the kids are gone.

  • by Jane Q. Public (1010737) on Tuesday February 25, 2014 @02:47PM (#46337105)

    "You should assume this by default. Before you take a huge risk, you should ensure that you will be adequately compensated for the risk."

    This is what I was going to say. If you are taking a big risk on their future, you should ask for and get (!) a share of the rewards.

  • by mveloso (325617) on Tuesday February 25, 2014 @02:48PM (#46337113)

    A company with architects implies that it's infrastructure is somewhat complicated.

    Developers hardly ever use the programs they write, much less understand the environment in which their program runs. What are the business requirements? Regulatory requirements? Technology limitations? Why are those present? Who set them and why?

    These are things architects worry about.

    You, as a developer, usually have no visibility into them in a large company unless you ask. And even if you ask you may not understand them, because it's far, far away from your personal experience.

    if you don't understand why architects are needed, you should be hyper-aware that you're clueless when you go to your next job that requires you to design an architecture. And you will probably fail.

    That's fine for you, because you'll learn. It'll be bad for the company you work for, because they'll have spend money and time on a solution that doesn't work, or at least doesn't work well.

  • by bill_mcgonigle (4333) * on Tuesday February 25, 2014 @02:51PM (#46337163) Homepage Journal

    Some(many?) employers are sociopaths and will take you for a ride on future promises.

    And they have legal systems for doing so - how many times have we heard of developers promised 2% of the company, only to find out that their shares were in a dilutable class and wound up with next to nothing?

    I once had a friend who was offered a relatively large chunk (~5%) of shares in a company with an interesting premise but very little pay. I suggested he ask for a portion (1/5th) of those promised shares as undilutable since he'd be one of the first 10 employees.

    The managers hung up the phone on him immediately and never called him back. Bullet dodged.

  • by Immerman (2627577) on Tuesday February 25, 2014 @03:04PM (#46337341)

    5) You're doing okay financially, but are getting sick of your current job and the new one promises to be more satisfying.

    6) If you *aren't* doing okay financially, consider reorganizing your life to spend less so that 5 is always an option.

    Not everything is about money. Job satisfaction will do far more for your quality of life than a few extra bucks come payday.

  • by schlachter (862210) on Tuesday February 25, 2014 @03:20PM (#46337523)

    I'd never hire someone with your attitude. Someone who puts money above all else is not the kind of person I want to be around or to employee. Even if your asking salary was well within my budget.

  • by ohnocitizen (1951674) on Tuesday February 25, 2014 @03:32PM (#46337681)
    This. Be brutally honest with yourself. Especially if a new company is trying to get you for less than you are worth. This raises important questions:

    1. Why can't they afford you? Lack of revenue, or is it a decision to try and muscle in people at lower rates? Both come with their own set of problems.
    2. If they can't afford to pay you what you are worth - what will the rest of the team look like? How will that impact the success of the company (and your own success in the job?)
    3. High expectations in combination with a pay cut suggests a mindset geared towards exploitation and manipulation. That's a giant red flag - others are a company that touts a culture that has high demands of it's employees. Some companies use stress and challenge as a way to keep employees (and their salaries) in check. Avoid like the plague.
    4. Check working hours. Some smaller companies (especially those that either can't afford to pay or choose not to) tend to attract more junior/less competent people. Chances are they are planning on you working more than 40 hours a week (which reduces your effective wages even more).
  • by curunir (98273) * on Tuesday February 25, 2014 @05:27PM (#46339077) Homepage Journal

    4) If you've been working as an engineer for 30 years and you still need the money, you're doing it wrong.

    Moreover, I've felt for quite some time that I need to have at least a year's salary saved up so that I can do my job effectively. And by doing my job effectively, I need to feel comfortable saying, among other things:

        * That's illegal/immoral, I'm not going to do it.
        * That's a dumb idea, we shouldn't do it.
        * That's an impossible deadline, I'm not going to agree to meet it.

    If I'm not entirely comfortable with them calling my bluff and losing my job over the issue, I won't feel comfortable saying those things. And, as an engineering leader, I need to be able to say those things if they need to be said.

  • by tbuskey (135499) on Wednesday February 26, 2014 @08:59AM (#46344577) Journal

    If you're not happy/satisfied at the current job, you have a reason to change. If you dread going in on a regular basis, you need to change something.

    I recently left a place where the work was ok, I liked my coworkers, but I dreaded going in. I'd procrastinate because management would change my tasks behind the scenes or create situations that created more work to little benefit. I had little say in decisions and was discouraged from trying. My new job puts me on truly cutting edge, I get great feedback from management with lots of input and I'm working much harder.

    I also find I'm eating better and feel healthier. And as a result of my 2 month job search, I know how much my skills are in demand. If this job doesn't last, I'm not worried about getting another. My skills will be much higher. They were stagnating in mundane tech before.

Overdrawn? But I still have checks left!

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