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

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 RocketScientist ( 15198 ) * on Tuesday February 25, 2014 @01:56PM (#46336367)

    You'll find about a dozen people in this thread that are gonna say "follow your heart".

    Those people are wrong. That's the last thing you should do.

    I went through this, and it's got upsides and downsides. You need to weigh those against your work-life balance and make a well thought out decision about your priorities.

    The company I left 2 years ago had a rich culture, a workout room, showers (nice to go with the workout room), weekly social things, great work-life balance with a 45 hour or so work week and alternating Friday early out, a great career ladder, and great coffee. The job was mildly interesting, not very challenging, but I had a lot of fun and free time, so I could do contract side work to fill out those needs. Work life balance was awesome, I worked about 40-45 hours a week, and got a lot of time at work to do career development (teach myself new stuff) and learned on the job. Manager was a bit of a git, but hey, nothing's perfect.

    The company I'm at now has no amenities to speak of (ok, coffee, that's it though). No gym, no weekly social things, nothing really. I took a pay cut to come here, but since them I'm making about 35% more, because I'm a good performer and fixed a lot of key infrastructure problems and took a management position. I'm working with more up-to-date technology and doing some cutting-edge things because there wasn't a massive technical legacy to support that prevented it. However, I also work a huge number of insane hours, I'm basically always on call, and I'm getting a lot of great physical job stress effects, which is just great.

    So there's the question. Can you do the stress and the extra work to re-earn the extra (and probably more) money? How important is work-life balance to you? Do you have a family? Do you want to learn a lot of really neat things and do work you can look back on and think "that was really awesome, I can't believe I pulled that off"? Is there a likelihood that the new place will grow to the point where you'll come out ahead in 5 years?

    Those are the questions you need to ask yourself, and you need to be brutally honest about.

  • Kind of... (Score:5, Informative)

    by aardwolf64 ( 160070 ) on Tuesday February 25, 2014 @02:00PM (#46336429) Homepage
    I kind of did that. I used to work a nice boring job at a University with excellent benefits (but without high pay or potential for promotion).

    I took a pay cut to work for a statewide bank, and it turned out turned out that job #2 was almost as bad as job #1 as far as upwards mobility.

    I left job #2 for a 50% pay raise at FedEx. High stress, long hours, great potential promotions, great pay. Laid off as part of the cut-back in 2009.

    Here I am working for another University (different large one, but still in the same state). I've got the good benefits and low stress, but my experience outside of the University systems actually got me pretty decent pay when I came back. I still don't really have any promotion opportunities, but I'm in an end-of-career job (as a 35 year old).
  • by tempestdata ( 457317 ) on Tuesday February 25, 2014 @02:06PM (#46336509)

    Most decent programmers will find themselves in your position at some point in their careers. I did too. I know nothing of your financial situation and commitments (mortgage/family/etc.) but don't take a pay cut if you can at all help it. The fact that you feel any uneasiness would seal the deal.

    I would readily agree to a pay cut in only the following situations :

    1) Need a job desperately and gotta make rent. Hopefully this situation never arises
    2) Major promotion or opportunity in a company I strongly strong believe in. The idea being that I will work my ass off for peanuts, but believe in my heart that I will come away with a huge sum of money at the end, or the ability to make a huge sum of money.
    3) I am going to work for or with someone who is absolutely exceptional and is going to be teaching me something I couldn't already learn on my own.

    It does not sound like you are getting any of those three. If you are bored, keep looking for a better or different job. In the meantime, If you want to scratch your intellectual itch, do it on the weekends.

    You have my 2 cents worth.

  • by grasshoppa ( 657393 ) < minus caffeine> on Tuesday February 25, 2014 @02:10PM (#46336561) Homepage

    If you have a family to support, stay put. You have a good, stable job. Your "boredom" is immaterial to providing for your family. In short, get over yourself. You are working for more than just yourself now.

    If you don't have a family to support: Take it. Now's the time to make your mistakes. The worst thing that happens is that the company goes bust, you have some peanut butter and ramen days as you find another job. If it's just you, then it's no big deal, right?

  • by davecb ( 6526 ) <> on Tuesday February 25, 2014 @02:12PM (#46336599) Homepage Journal

    Conversely, when you're older than 40, you may want the more challenging job if the old one is stultifying.

    I'm over 60, and have gone from management to volunteer because my company's then major customer was exceedingly political and more than a little broken. So I took three months off and worked pro bono for a group that was a lot like a start-up: no money, tons of pressure, borrowed office space and the only thing free was the coffee. Totally fun!

    That gave me the energy to go back refreshed, to a senior individual-contributor job at a young company.

  • by mysidia ( 191772 ) on Tuesday February 25, 2014 @02:17PM (#46336669)

    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.

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

    If they can't compensate you today: get a guarantee of future compensation if they are successful.

    In other words: the pay difference should translate into tangible future benefit.

    Businesses have a way of recording investments.... it's in the form of either issuing you equity shares, or signing a promissory note, for the difference in pay. If you're an owner, you are less likely to be screwed.

    Require something legally enshrined on the books, for your troubles.

  • by SuperBanana ( 662181 ) on Tuesday February 25, 2014 @04:09PM (#46338127)

    I've had it with small companies. During the '00s I twice started with small companies only to hear "pay will be late" at the end of an early pay period, then "pay is just around the corner" by the end of the next pay period. In one case, the CEO simply never paid; I left before the third no-pay period was over, demanding that I be paid for my hours, to which he basically replied "so sue us!" I didâ"but only managed to recoup some of what I was owed.

    This is nothing new, nor is it specific to small companies; I think you meant "startups." Textile companies used to do the same BS, not paying workers, during the industrial revolution. It's why, for example, in MA it is a CRIMINAL matter upon the officers of the company if employees are not paid within a certain amount of time for work done. Furthermore, the law is written such that BOTH the state and you individually can pursue action against them concurrently/independently.

    It's also why, if terminated or laid off, you must walk out the door with any and all money owed to you. It's not a defense that the guy who signs the checks is only in on Tuesdays, or they need to figure out how much to take out of your paycheck for purchases from the company canteen, etc. Why? Because they're choosing to end your employment, and they can choose to do so at any time. So they should terminate employment on Tuesday, after they've done the necessary calculations.

    If you are reading this, live in MA (and probably a bunch of other states), and have a pay period that is not at least semi-monthly (biweekly if you're paid hourly) unless you're salaried and agreed to be paid monthly...or you have not been paid within one pay period for your work...stop reading, step outside, and call your State AG immediately, or at least read something like []

  • by sandytaru ( 1158959 ) on Tuesday February 25, 2014 @04:36PM (#46338453) Journal
    Anyone who wants to be healthy is getting between 7-8 hours of sleep a night, both weekends and weekdays. I usually hit at 7.5 right on the nose. Lack of sleep hygiene is associated with a whole host of diseases, ranging from metabolic syndrome to Alzheimer's. If you require less sleep to be at 100% efficiency, you are the exception and not the rule.

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