The Right Job – Turning Down a 30% Raise

03-25-13 Right Job - Turning Down a Pay Raise

Would you turn down a 30% pay raise? At the end of last month I did just that when I turned down an offer with an incredible pay raise to go to another firm. Why the hell would I do such a thing? Was this the right decision? How do you know which job is the right job?

Here’s what happened: At the beginning of February, a former boss of mine emailed me, sharing that she had recommended me to another company. Not only was I stoked to have someone in my network looking out for me, but a previous boss no less!

In following up with the recommendation, I went through the process of interviewing, learning about the demands of the position, and what additional responsibility the new position would entail. Shortly thereafter, I received an offer for more than I have ever earned before.

Which Job is the Right Job For Me?

Last month I wrote about Finding The Right Job, and developed a score sheet that would allow me to rate and compare various jobs. When a new opportunity comes across your path, it is hard not to get overwhelmed with excitement. One of the major benefits of this score sheet is to strip away those emotions and other less objective feelings when making a decision. Much like investing, emotions can cloud your judgment and sway you to make the wrong decision.

With that in mind, I pulled out my score sheet, and rated both my current position and the new opportunity for each criterion. My filled-out score sheet is below:

The Right Job – Turning Down a 30% Raise - Score Sheet

Primary FactorsCurrent JobPotential Job AuxiliaryCurrent JobPotential Job
Growth Potential:.5.5Compensation:.51
Process Development:.51Personality/Fit:10
Operational Analytics:0.5
Total Auxiliary
Stable Company/Leadership:11
Flexibility:11Total Primary45
Longevity:10Total Auxiliary2.52
Total Primary
Total Job Score

As you can see above, the new job doesn’t significantly come out ahead when compared to my current position. While the new opportunity fulfilled more of my desired job characteristics, ultimately those and the increase of pay did not outweigh the benefits of position longevity and the sacrifice of a great personality fit. As a note, longevity was a bit over weighted for me as I’ve been at my current job for less than a year and rapid job hopping can be perceived negatively.

The Right Job Must Have: Personality Fit

Too often people ignore the personality of those around them. When comparing a position, the personality criterion should almost be counted twice. As I talked about in my first post, working with people you like and mesh with is very important.

Currently, I work in a larger office setting and my immediate team is a great group of people with laid back personalities. We fit and work very well together. With the new position, I would be transitioning to a small office of less than 20, where the personality fit is extremely important. Additionally, my role there would be executive level, requiring an extra emphasis on the personality fit with the other executives.

Of course, it goes without saying that I could absolutely end up regretting this decision! I just gave up more than six figures in additional income over the course of the next five years. As a numbers guy, and someone who is very focused on increasing and developing increased streams of income, this was the hardest decision I’ve ever made in my professional career.

Have you had to make a job decision recently? What did you find important when deciding on the right job?

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  1. I have the opposite situation. I started off liking my current job, but now, it bores me to tears. The problem is that if I left, I’d have to take at least a 30% pay cut. I have some very specialized skills that are very valuable to my current employer, but wouldn’t be so much for others.

    Additionally, I get to work from home which saves tons of money and allows for more family time.

    So, I’m going to stick it out. Hopefully, I can make my goal and won’t have to work anywhere in a little while.

    • One way to look at your situation is that you have some pretty awesome job security!

      With your timeline, the addition of blogging, and specific set of goals till your ideal retirement, one can hope that keeps you motivated the next few years! Boredom is definitely one of the easiest ways to lose traction as we pursue our goals. Financial independence unfortunately isn’t a sprint!

      By the way, working at home is a huge perk, and I’m sure your family enjoys the flexibility! Good luck sticking it out!

      • “By the way, working at home is a huge perk, and I’m sure your family enjoys the flexibility!”

        You’re absolutely right. For me, this is more important than the money. I get so much more time and it saves us a ton of money. I am able to walk my older daughter to school every day. That alone makes it worth it.

  2. I had to do the same thing when I took my current job, although I didn’t pass up a 30% raise but it was still significant. I like your decision matrix, I believe it helps to take emotion out of your decision. Thanks for the mention!

  3. I’ve had to do a similar thing in the past, but not as much as the 30% level you dealt with but still a nice pay bump. It can be difficult to turn down that kind of money and I think your score sheet is a brilliant idea as I think situations like that call us to make as much of a rational decision as possible. I’ve also worked in a small office setting and the dynamic of the team becomes a major issue then. It could be great, but it could also be very bad.

    • Like I said in the post, it was by far the hardest decision I have ever made in my professional career. Simply daunting when you consider the financial implications of accepting or turning it down. The interpersonal relationships in a small office are so important and often overlooked by people during a transition in employment.

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting John!

  4. That’s a really tough choice! I’m sure you made the right one though. The hardest decision I ever made was quitting a job making 6 figures to earn $0 to start my own business. It was really tough in the beginning but now is working out. I think it’s important to make a decision and stick with it. Don’t keep worrying about what could have happened and focus on what’s ahead of you.

  5. Recently I also got a raise and that pulls me above a limit anyone else would be able to offer me elsewhere. But I am not looking for a job. I am OK with my current one, although sometimes it can be pretty boring.

    • Congratulations on the raise! I think finding that balance between boring and interesting is important in a job. Knowing that we are in it for somewhat of a long haul, finding the motivation to wake up and go to work means being stimulated while there.

  6. Must have been a tough decision for you. I’m looking at a similar situation with a nice pay rise, better personality fit but potentially uncertain job situation, but more interesting environment. Not sure where I will net out on this.

    • Incredibly difficult! In your situation I would simply advise you to step back and really break down the positives and negatives. Emotion is the enemy of good decisions. Certainly the additional money would be nice, but finding a good long-term fit including job security is a must!

      Thanks for swinging by, and good luck with the decision!

  7. Wow, it sounds like you’ve got some serious will power. I don’t think I could turn down a 30% raise if the job only lost to my current job by half a point. But it’s always good to know you’ve got options.

    • By far the toughest decision I have ever made in my professional career. For me the personality fit and the flexibility of my current position won out. Don’t get me wrong, the money would have been nice for sure, but just wasn’t enough to make the switch.

  8. I turned one down and I think it was a bad choice because I left corporate America 2 years later. It was also a 2 year guarantee although who knows whether they would have paid the second year because business was so bad.

    The bump was 25% for first year and what ended up being like 150% for second year compared to my stayed salary IF they paid. Hence, not sure if it was a bad choice to stay. A 25% bump was definitely not worth it.150% is for sure.


    • I tell you this, if the numbers had been anywhere near a 150% raise, I would have been out the door and on my way. That being said, if the business prospects are poor and they are essentially a going concern, they can offer all they want, it isn’t worth it.

      And was your decision really a bad choice? Would you have been able to get the severance package you desired, and actually received, if you had jumped ship to another company so close to when you actually retired?

      Thanks for stopping by while on your offsite trip Sam!

      • I forgot about my severance package negotiation. The answer is definitely NOT from my new firm since I would have no pull.

        It was a risk I wasn’t prepared to take. I would have had to sell or rent out my house while spendig probably $3,500/month in manhattan. It may have been fun, or it may have been miserable flying back and forth from SF.

        In the end, I probably would have moves if I knew the 2nd year spread was 150%, but only of I knew they would have paid the 2nd year guarantee. Catch 22. Don’t know what I don’t know!

        • You forgot? Didn’t you write a book about that… ;)

          I would think the traveling back and forth would have gotten old quite quickly, only compounding the uncertainty surrounding the other company. Ultimately, based on the little I know, I think you made the right decision. Your severance package was massive, allowed you to leave on your terms, and provide financial security to launch the successful business you have today.

          Thanks for following up and for the continued discussion!

  9. As some who recently changed careers I liked your criteria. Happiness and quality of life were most important but getting a 30% raise is also nice :)


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