When it rains, it pours: I had to choose between a new job opportunity and a great counter-offer

Most people have had the experience of switching jobs. I’ve done it once so far in my career. What makes my most recent experience so different from the last one is that I wasn’t actively looking for a new opportunity; it kind of just fell into my lap. This means that when an offer actually came in, I wasn’t wholly prepared to leave my current job. I like my company, I like my team, and I like (for the most part) the work that I do. Yes, there are major frustrations that sometimes make me want to quit, but compared to my previous job, where I was overworked, underpaid, and overwhelmed, this gig has been real good to me. No job is 100% perfect. I’m sure even those who are self-employed have plenty to complain about. After all, it’s still just a job.

When I informed my manager and boss that I had a job offer in hand, things began moving quickly. After weeks of not knowing what my increased salary was going to be (which factored in an annual increase, a bump in salary based off of a stipulation in my hiring contract, and an additional increase to factor in a larger workload I had taken on over the past two months), it took only one more week for my company to give me a number that wasn’t officially a counter-offer, but was a sizable bump nonetheless. They couldn’t match the offer that I had gotten but promised to focus on my personal career growth in ways that my new company wouldn’t be able to, which was extremely important to me. I spent days flipping back and forth over what to do. Finally, after a late dinner with lots of debating and a bottle of wine, my boyfriend walked me through the following process which helped me make my final decision.

Why does this help? It’s perfect for when it’s really difficult to evaluate the pros and cons of a specific decision. The new job offer may be a higher salary, but there were other costs involved that chipped away at the difference between the new offer and the counter-offer that couldn’t make me leave my current company based on salary alone.

From a financial standpoint:

The commute costs of the new company were much higher. Not only that, the new commute would be much longer, by roughly an hour total each day. That’s approximately 250 extra hours a year spent on additional time traveling to and from work. Not only that, but the new job offer was also in a different state, which had considerable tax implications. I took what my expected raise would be at my existing job, and broke that down into a standard divide-by-2,080 to get an approximate hourly rate. I then calculated the difference I would be paying in additional commute costs over a year, as well as what I’d be getting back in taxes. I added that to the offer amount of the new job, and divided that by 2,080 plus the additional 250 hours I would be commuting to get an appropriately adjusted hourly rate. The result? The hourly rate of my current job (post-raise) ended up two cents higher than the new offer.

Two cents an hour does not make a significant difference. The biggest difference between the two jobs, from a financial standpoint, is that the new job offer still had a much higher base salary, even if much of the increase was being eaten away by travel time.

From a qualitative standpoint:

This ended up being the deciding factor. While salary is critically important, think of it as a first step. When considering a job offer, salary is one of those things where they need to make an acceptable offer before you can start thinking about anything else. I’ve yet to be in a situation where a company has thrown so much money at me that I can’t say no. Somehow, I get the feeling that doesn’t happen very often.

As someone who works in analytics, one of the biggest challenges is properly evaluating things that are not numerical by nature. I listed all the pros of staying with my current job, and then did a similar thing for the new offer. The goal is to write as many things as you can think of. After you’ve done that, assign each item a value of 1 to 3, 1 being the least important and 3 being the most.Take the average for each option. At the end, you should have something that looks like this:

 

This isn’t the real paper that I did mine on, but a decent example nonetheless.

 

It’s okay to be silly. Silly things will get rated lower, which brings down the average. It’s a great way to value where your priorities are at. I do also believe that having someone else walk you through this process is incredibly helpful. When I did this exercise with my option, I came out with averages of 1.9 and 2.0, which are very close. While the financial balance tipped slightly in favor of my existing job, the qualitative perks were the opposite – but only slightly. It became a toss-up between which one I should actually take.

 

Today would have been my last day of work. When I first starting writing this post, this paragraph actually started with the sentence, “Today is my last day of work”. I had every intention of taking the new job but didn’t when the CEO of my company personally intervened in my situation. It’s not every day that executives pay close attention to their employees, especially someone as low on the totem pole as me. He made a promise to me and my team, which is what made the decision for me to stay. You can say it tipped the qualitative decision-making process in favor of staying. I’m happy with my choice. I’m still getting a sizable increase in pay, and have asked for more focus on my personal career development. I get to continue working at a company where I am familiar with the nuances of the job and the industry, and I get to stay in Manhattan. As important as the financial considerations of a new job opportunity are, the qualitative aspects should be the ones making the decision, not just the increase in pay alone. I’m taking a gamble that this is the right decision for me in the long-term, but I also know that I have an above average salary. I’ve crossed that threshold where incremental salary increases do not bring significant increases in happiness, so it’s important for me to pay more attention to improving the non-monetary aspects of my career development. So I hope. At least, that’s what I tell myself.

Comments

  1. Sounds like a tough decision, but one that you’ll be happy with! Obviously you’re valued at your current position, which is worth far more than just a paycheck.

  2. I’m glad that you were able to make the right decision! Most companies won’t even try to bridge the gap between your current compensation and your offer. It also sounds like you’ll have some increased responsibility which will help with your career growth.

    Since you also increased your salary, if you decide to leave in the future, you will increase your salary even more!

    1. Author

      You’re right! I ended up in a win-win situation; and staying definitely felt like I got everything I wanted. And I’m absolutely well set up for my next role in the future.

  3. Thanks for sharing Jane. I’m going through a similar thing… don’t know what to do yet.

    If the CEO is getting involved, like Dan said, they value you and believe in your work.

    Also, those extra 250 hours will eat at you over time… about 2 years ago, I moved so my commute would be roughly 12 minutes vs. 35 minutes. Those minutes add up over time!

    1. Author

      Thanks, Erik!
      The huge increase in commute time was definitely the biggest factor counting against the new opportunity.
      If you’re in a similar situation, congrats! As stressful as this whole thing was for me, it was still really nice to have two companies fighting over me, haha. 🙂

  4. Kudos for you to making the right decision and playing this correctly. As someone that sees my company payroll, the quickest way to get a pay increase is to show your employer a job offer from somewhere else.

    Also, I calculate mileage at about .50 cents per mile, conservatively. If the new job is 50 miles further than the current one, that is an extra $50/day in commuting cost. That’s only R&M, depreciation and gas. The time is a whole different story.

    Great job on going with the devil you know, and squeezing more money out of them. That’s what I did at my current employer, and I didn’t even have a job offer in hand. I now have moved on to engineering my layoff, with severance, and this is a new learning experience too.

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