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

timothy posted about 7 months ago | from the don't-burn-too-many-bridges dept.

Businesses 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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Almost always yes, with a but (4, Insightful)

i kan reed (749298) | about 7 months ago | (#46336315)

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.

Re:Almost always yes, with a but (5, Informative)

mysidia (191772) | about 7 months ago | (#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.

Re:Almost always yes, with a but (1)

garyisabusyguy (732330) | about 7 months ago | (#46336877)

Get them to commit something to you at 3 month intervals based on performance
i.e. 90 review with a set rate of compensation based on your performance, 180 review with assignment of position based on work being performed, even simple things like tools to be used, work environment, etc... should be well defined and you should start looking for another job if it looks like they are failing to deliver

Re:Almost always yes, with a but (4, Insightful)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about 7 months ago | (#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.

Re:Almost always yes, with a but (4, Insightful)

Jhon (241832) | about 7 months ago | (#46336715)

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.

Re:Almost always yes, with a but (1)

HycoWhit (833923) | about 7 months ago | (#46336855)

That was my first thought as well! How old are you and do you have a family? :)

Re:Almost always yes, with a but (1)

garyisabusyguy (732330) | about 7 months ago | (#46336901)

Any job change in the 40 to 50 year range should be limited to pricey consulting jobs where you can gain a years salary in six months (with the intention of working a full year) or else you are risking losing everything

Re:Almost always yes, with a but (5, Insightful)

lgw (121541) | about 7 months ago | (#46337017)

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.

Re:Almost always yes, with a but (4, Insightful)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | about 7 months ago | (#46337163)

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.

I just went through this... (5, Informative)

RocketScientist (15198) | about 7 months ago | (#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.

Re:I just went through this... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46336455)

45 hours per week for a 40 hours per week job is considered good work life balance where exactly?

Re:I just went through this... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46336525)

Pretty much anywhere that you don't get a paid lunch hour.

Re:I just went through this... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46336651)

Sure you're "at work" for 45 hours. I am too, sometimes less if I eat fast. But it's still a 40 hour work week then. Or do you count the commute too? In that case many people probably "work" 60 hour weeks while only actually doing anything for 40 hours. And we all know that 20 of those is hanging out on slashdot :P

Re:I just went through this... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46336551)

You're not a programmer. 45 hours is normal. I've only gone below that in EDU or non profit.

Re:I just went through this... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46336697)

Same AC here. I am a senior developer alright. I just don't work in the US.

Re:I just went through this... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46336563)

Where does he say it was a "40 hours per week job", whatever that is? Most jobs at that level don't pay hourly, in case you didn't know.

Re:I just went through this... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46336917)

They don't *pay* hourly, but they're still 40 hours per week jobs.

My last job in Germany for example, I got paid for being at work 40 hours a week. I was supposed to be at work for approximately that amount of time, but I got the same amount of money if I was there less. For more hours however, I was paid commission. That was a developer position and yes I consider *that* to be normal.

Re:I just went through this... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46336579)

Are you saying a person can't have a good work-life balance if they're working 45 hours a week?

Re:I just went through this... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46337045)

I'm saying that I wouldn't consider that to be a good work life balance and that there is no reason that it should be unless you're a workoholic or don't have a family or don't like to see your family or whatever. I have 24 hours in a day. I sleep 8 hours of that. I work 8 hours of that and then I drive to and from work and eat at work for another 3 hours. That leaves me 5 hours to do all the other stuff that is important in life.

Re:I just went through this... (4, Interesting)

angel'o'sphere (80593) | about 7 months ago | (#46336547)

and great coffee

In my observation, that is no kidding, the quallitiy of the software development department is correlated to the quallity of the coffee. Regardless whether the coffee is free or not (it is even more ashaming if you have to pay for the coffee and it is bad).

I only had one exception the previous 30 years where a developer shop had bad coffe but good developers and also a good software / software architecture / development process.

So my suggestion: check the coffee at the new shop :D

Re:I just went through this... (1)

kqc7011 (525426) | about 7 months ago | (#46336617)

S-O, kids? Plus many other things that have to be considered. Tough choices. Me, several years ago I found a niche and stayed while giving up chasing the brass ring. All up to you as to what you want.

Re:I just went through this... (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46336655)

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

Re:I just went through this... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46337015)

I just went through 7 years of the exact same thing.... Get out now.

In 7 years you will be in the exact same position as you are now with 10 times the responsibility, no pay raises, no benefits, and no time off.

I followed my heart and as with most girls, it was stopped on, till there was almost no life left in it.

Get out now......

Re:I just went through this... (4, Interesting)

rwa2 (4391) | about 7 months ago | (#46337129)

Good story. I essentially did this too about 2 years ago, under similar conditions.

Grew up in the DC area most of my life, and had some good jobs there working for various "Beltway Bandit" engineering firms, with the security clearance, unlimited overtime, occasional 2 week travel... it felt like a scam. Despite all of the perks, I was certain I didn't want to live that way the rest of my life. Plus, vitamin D deficiency from working in SCIFs all day was starting to eat my bones. But I saved up enough money to move the family out to the west coast to finally live a little.

It was a pretty substantial pay cut, but the cost of living out here West ended up being lower too. We now rent a house 3x the size of our old 2br condo. We're on a strict budget now that the wife stays home to tend to the kids, but everyone is a lot less stressed and doing better in school, and we eat better now than when we hit restaurants half the time. People out here are workaholics in comparison to DC ("Southern Efficiency; Northern Charm"). But they play much harder too. First week at the new job and my boss hands me a beer from his mini-fridge, which would never happen back East. And we have a whole bevy of new places to explore on weekends after having exhausted most of our old haunts.

So yeah, "follow your heart", but be sure to think it through... you don't want to be changing jobs every year, but you don't want to stagnate at one place for more than 5-10 years without growth either. See the good parts of whatever you end up doing, be prepared to make the sacrifices you're willing to take to make the changes you want in your life, and consider what is your "path of least regret".

How much of a pay cut? (1)

CQDX (2720013) | about 7 months ago | (#46336375)

Can you still pay your bills and have enough leftover for long term savings? If the answer is yes I'd take the new job.

"lets make some bad decisions" (2)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46336387)

Hmmm... lets trade a high pay, low stress job for a low pay, high stress job. Yup, sounds like a winning decision.

Yes, actually (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46336389)

I'm working for lower pay because I absolutely refuse to work for a publicly traded company. I'm still doing pretty well, not as well as I could be, but I can go to sleep with a clear conscience.

I resigned two positions because the company went public while I was an employee.

Re:Yes, actually (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46336731)

but I can go to sleep with a clear conscience.

Holy crap. Are you sure you left those companies, or that your colleagues ran you out of town on a rail because you're a preachy judgmental jackass?

Re:Yes, actually (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46336769)

Standing up for what you believe is being judgmental? That is an unfortunate way of thinking.

do you care about your career or your work? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46336393)

it seems like a straightforward decision.

consider yourself fortunate to be able to decide between interesting
work and a cushy path to retirement

Run. (0)

SplawnDarts (1405209) | about 7 months ago | (#46336415)

"Career opportunities" don't come with pay cuts. They come with pay raises. Run.

Re:Run. (1)

Rob the Bold (788862) | about 7 months ago | (#46336671)

"Career opportunities" don't come with pay cuts. They come with pay raises. Run.

True. What they pay you tell you how much they value you. Sounds backwards at first, but if they pay you more it makes them find you more valuable. Think about your own experiences: when you pay more for one choice than another, it reinforces your belief that it was worth more.

Re:Run. (2)

Karlt1 (231423) | about 7 months ago | (#46336679)

"Career opportunities" don't come with pay cuts. They come with pay raises. Run

Not true, for example if you're making good money as a "Senior COBOL developer" and all you do is maintenance work, it may make sense to take a slight pay cut to move into a newer technology and get architecture experience.

Re:Run. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46336693)

So where do startups come from? I realize the OP is not about joining a startup, but very often there is a risk/reward correlation: leave a job with an established company that pays above market for a smaller company with plans to grow. The smaller company generally pays below market because they are trying to use cash to grow, and will incent potential employees with stock options (shared risk/shared reward).

Looking strictly at pay will limit your pool of employers to established companies who need to pay above market because the job is not satisfying.

Go for it -- but keep your eyes open (4, Insightful)

talexb (223672) | about 7 months ago | (#46336421)

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.

Kind of... (5, Informative)

aardwolf64 (160070) | about 7 months ago | (#46336429)

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).

it depends on your age (2)

kkonrad (319138) | about 7 months ago | (#46336431)

when a was younger it would have mattered, but not now (I'm 40). I mean if they want quality they must pay it. that is my opinion

Re:it depends on your age (4, Informative)

davecb (6526) | about 7 months ago | (#46336599)

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.

Re:it depends on your age (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46336747)

this is the primary factor. age sort of implies where you are with your life.

wife? kids? mortgage? sick/disabled parent(s)?

in general, young people can throw the dice.

older people have responsibilities, and throw the dice less. but also have been around the block a few times, so can get what they want without having to.

Interesting (5, Insightful)

rtfarrell5 (1943022) | about 7 months ago | (#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.

Re:Interesting (1)

bondsbw (888959) | about 7 months ago | (#46336875)

My experience is quite different. I know a lot of people who do both, including myself. And most architects worth their salt at least did programming in some former life.

Re:Interesting (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46336925)

...remember that those who think long, often think wrong.

That is trite bullshit.

Architects = complexity (5, Insightful)

mveloso (325617) | about 7 months ago | (#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.

Simple answer (3)

CheezburgerBrown . (3417019) | about 7 months ago | (#46336443)

It's worth a pay cut when the amount of happiness you get is greater than the amount of happiness you get from the money.

What do you want from life? (1)

MoonlessNights (3526789) | about 7 months ago | (#46337185)

This is a big factor to keep in mind and I strongly agree.

What do you want from life? If you want money and perks, then stay where it is cushy. If you want to push yourself and do interesting and challenging things, then take the plunge.

Personally, I find that most software development jobs pay far more than you need to survive but most just treat you like a cog in a machine and have few opportunities to do interesting things. A good pay check is nice but it is merely existing whereas an exciting job is truly living.

Will it make you happier? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46336451)

If it makes you happier and isn't going to lead to retiring in poverty, then go for it, obviously. This is hardly a question worth asking, but I guess too many people still delusionally believe that money creates fulfillment.

If its a real opportunity, then yes... (1)

Karmashock (2415832) | about 7 months ago | (#46336459)

if its bullcrap then obviously not.

Money isn't the only measure of wealth. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46336463)

I'm a programmer. I live and work in a place far removed from Silicon Valley, and consequently make about half as much money as I could there. But I wouldn't change a thing. Money isn't the only measure of wealth. Any time someone tries to convince you that it is, or even that it's particularly important, you should ask what they're selling.

Will they pay you? (4, Interesting)

aussersterne (212916) | about 7 months ago | (#46336501)

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 did—but only managed to recoup some of what I was owed. In the other case, they eventually paid but then promptly fired me for the noises I'd made about leaving due to two periods with no pay; that CEO had the gall to act infuriated and hurt at my lack of loyalty to the company.

So be sure that a small company with a low capital/revenue stream doesn't mean "You promise to do it for the love of the company if they can't afford to pay you."

Wait and find a better opportunity (5, Informative)

tempestdata (457317) | about 7 months ago | (#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.

Long Term Benefits (2)

shadowknot (853491) | about 7 months ago | (#46336513)

I took a pay cut to move in to the digital forensics field in 2007 mainly because of the large volume of included training that was offered and the prospect of increased salaries in the future. I feel that it paid off, I got to learn a great deal about a field I was unsure of using software I could never have afforded to purchase on my own. Self study is how I've learned most things in my career but there really is something to be said for having access to experienced real-world professionals.

Do you work for work, or work for a living? (1)

Keruo (771880) | about 7 months ago | (#46336527)

Going after a startup for innovative work might me interesting and rewarding but it might not neccessarily pay your mortgage.
There are many benefits in working with well established platform and performing maintenance coding.

Personally, I would never accept pay cut for "I'm bored with my current job".
You can always find more rewarding job with higher salary if you really want to.
Just remember you don't have to rush out, and don't let the door hit you in the ass when you leave.
World is actually annoyingly small place and you will end up bumping into your old colleagues and it's much better if you are in good terms with them.

I actually did this kind of move just recently.
I left my old job for a position in a much smaller company with old, almost ancient infrastructure.
One of the main reasons for leaving was the salary, the small company does not have capital/revenue of even /10 of the old company but they pay proper salary nevertheless.
I didn't double my salary by switching but taking into account the layoffs which were foreseeable in the old position, I'd might aswell say I did double up.

So, should one leave MS (2)

fermion (181285) | about 7 months ago | (#46336539)

There is a lot to be said about having cash in hand, and benefits. Is part of the idea that the small firm may get big and you will be rewarded greatly? That usually does not happen, so it is a gamble.

If they desperately need someone to do all this great stuff, I wonder why you have to take a pay cut. Sure, you may be overpaid at you current job because of stress and what not, but i wonder if this new firm is just looking to find someone who will fix the problems cheap and then go away when they do not get a raise.

Life is certainly more about money. but that is mostly said by people who have it.

Some thoughts: (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46336545)

A blank slate can be daunting. Improvising on established architecture can be rewarding. Pay is not everything. It sounds like you will be doing more for less pay. Will they make it up in equity or options. Do they have the resources to pull it off? Do you like these people? Do you have a family. Would you like to have a family soon. Can you live on less? Have an exit strategy.

Pay cuts are permanent (0)

Rob the Bold (788862) | about 7 months ago | (#46336555)

You gotta do what you gotta do, but keep in mind that pay cuts are permanent. You're never going to get back to what you'd be making if you kept the better paying position. Maybe you'll be the exception, but probably not.

So if you're thinking that eventually you'll get back on track salary-wise in your job decision calculus, run the pros and cons again with that in mind. Some things are worth more than money, just make sure you know how much more.

An old man perspective (5, Informative)

grasshoppa (657393) | about 7 months ago | (#46336561)

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?

Re:An old man perspective (2)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | about 7 months ago | (#46336761)

I think you're oversimplifying a little. He doesn't necessarily need to stay put. What he really needs is to not incur much additional risk to his income or to his time with his family, if he has one. That might be possible while changing jobs. Especially if he's marketable enough that, if laid off, he could almost certainly find another job soon after.

Re:An old man perspective (3, Interesting)

grasshoppa (657393) | about 7 months ago | (#46336829)

I have always felt that "Ask Slashdot" is the haven for the "simplified answers".

I'm not going to try to break down the variety of scenarios where he should or shouldn't make the leap. Rather, my focus is on the "big picture"; if he has a family, it's not about his selfish needs anymore. If he doesn't, he can be as selfish as he wants.

Re:An old man perspective (1)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | about 7 months ago | (#46336887)

No argument. I just think in this case, you over-simplified.

Re:An old man perspective (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46336965)

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

Re:An old man perspective (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46336893)

An alternative old man perspective is to reverse that:

early career: live within your means, add to your 401K, save/invest above and beyond to build up 6 months or more of living income. Work hard within established companies to build your CV and identify people to mentor you.

mid or later career: leave a stable but unsatisfying job to go to a startup or out on your own. You know you are employable because you are pinged by friends and strangers regularly with opportunities. You know the unemployment rate for developers with your skillset is 1%. You've been smart with your earnings and saved enough to last 6 months or more. Know that the big corporate world will still be there if you need to come back to it (having seen that the grass was not greener).

Mutually Exclusive Question (1, Insightful)

nurb432 (527695) | about 7 months ago | (#46336573)

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

Re:Mutually Exclusive Question (1)

Kojiro Ganryu Sasaki (895364) | about 7 months ago | (#46336721)

Not if he cannot be promoted at his current position and if wage increases are unlikely.

Then it's an issue of staying at some place and knowing you can't get more, and possibly lose some of what you get now to start working at a position where NOT being promoted isn't a certainty.

Re:Mutually Exclusive Question (2)

DaveV1.0 (203135) | about 7 months ago | (#46336915)

Careers are all about money.

Maybe, but life isn't all about one's career.

It cant be better if you are losing income in the process.

Depends on where one's priorities are. Is getting paid an extra $10,000.00 a year if one has to work consistent 60+ hour weeks, get called on the weekend and on vacation, and is generally treated like a slave?

If one is making more money, but is also destroying one's life and health, one may never get to enjoy the extra income. Money is not everything and won't necessarily buy one happiness.

All about happiness. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46336587)

It's worth it when you are happy with your situation. Stress level, contentment..it's up to the individual...

Yo (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46336589)

Quit bitching or quit being a pussy and face risk.

No one can answer this for you (1)

asmkm22 (1902712) | about 7 months ago | (#46336641)

It's worth it when you think it's worth it. There's no checklist or mathematical breaking point to tell you when to switch. This sounds more like you lack a solid structure of friends, so you're coming here in search of a support group.

use your judgement ... (1)

cheap.computer (1036494) | about 7 months ago | (#46336663)

Opinions are like aholes everyone has one and everyone's stinks. A wise man told me long back that ""as a programmer your peak earning potential is between the age of 35 - 45, you can engage in adventures before or after this peak period. If you are a super duper programmer chasing a job that offers opportunities to solve interesting technical problems is great when you are 45, you should look for opportunities where you should be able to leverage your experience. For the 10yrs you have in between consider opportunities that have the best financial rewards."" But having said that... You just have to go with *your* gut feeling, you don't want to miss that opportunity to work for that next google or facebook either...

Xero! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46336665)

Hey All,

Since I am a big fan of the company that I work for, check this out! http://www.xero.com/us/about/careers/

We are hiring, and we offer awesome bennies/salary and we have a very vibe culture. Looking for devs, engineers, etc.

Also don't take a pay cut, come work for us! I am sure you will like your opportunities here!

Simple answer (1)

roman_mir (125474) | about 7 months ago | (#46336695)

When Is a Better Career Opportunity Worth a Pay Cut?

- I think it makes sense to do so when you go your own way to start your own business. As a contractor I was making much more than what I am making right now, as a business owner. It's a risk, but anything is a risk, even staying in one place for a long time is a risk.

You have to manage your career (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46336701)

Been there, done that, got the coffee cups. I left the comfy boring job for less pay/more work/more opportunity. It can pay off, but understand that your new employer is no different than most employers. It is up to you to manage your career, and you should keep an eye open for other opportunities down the line, whether that means more money or more experience. Understand that going into the job they were somewhat stingy, and that might change - or it might not.

Where? (4, Interesting)

gabereiser (1662967) | about 7 months ago | (#46336705)

Where do you work that you get such a laxed environment where Architects are actually doing their jobs and no developer is just cowboy coding architecture into the mix? I want to work there. I think you really need to evaluate where you are and how good you have it. If you want to make architectural decisions, maybe work your way into an architectural role. If you just want to implement XYZ because you think it's cool. You deserve the paycut. I don't want you to take it the wrong way, but a lot of jobs I've worked at has been developers making the architectural decisions and the architecture ends up shit. Be glad you have a committee that cares enough about it to prevent people from implementing anything they feel like. I'd love a job like that.

Make your own decision (1)

cyberspittle (519754) | about 7 months ago | (#46336709)

Stop looking for answers on the internet. Rely on your instinct.

No. (1)

Pope (17780) | about 7 months ago | (#46336725)

Increase your outside hobbies to fulfill the "boredom" you feel, and maybe that'll cure your blues.

The answer also REALLY depends on age, relationship, family, etc. More so than can really be addressed here on Slashdot. The fact that you ARE asking is a good sign, though :)

Do you want to become an architect at some point, so you are able to make the big decisions and decide direction? That may be an option if you want to keep some of the perks of your current job. Do some night classes or w/e and make the move!

I did it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46336741)

I left my nice cushy enterprise job where I seemed to be on the fast track -- one with good perks. It was about a $25K paycut, with most of that in soft benefits (401k, bonus, stock purchase plan, RSUs that would vest). I'll make some of it up with the annual bonus, but I don't know how large it will be exactly because I haven't been at the company for a year yet.

I changed not because the job was boring (though it was), but because of my significant other's job required us to move. So far I've learned more in relevant areas than I had in the past 6 months at my previous job. Even if I don't stay for the salary, I'll have the experience I need to go other places, because I've been trained in the technology that people want.

a good motto when looking for a new job (1)

phishen (1044934) | about 7 months ago | (#46336745)

Never run away from a job, always run to a job

Do it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46336755)

Quit your current job and take the new one, but first, tell me where you work, i definetely want to work there

There's more to it than meets the eye (1)

gwstuff (2067112) | about 7 months ago | (#46336759)

There's a reason that "if it ain't broken don't fix it" continues to be the holy grail of engineering. It's because any value function you come up with to evaluate a new opportunity and compare it to an existing, good arrangement is bound to be incomplete. So Value = f(salary, benefits, exciting work) is one part of the story. What about the potential of a Dilbert-like management culture, processes that you don't know yet that you would find out after a year of working at the new place - at which point it would be too late to turn back.

A good job, like a system that works just fine, reflects on a good balance of a large number of variables, many of which one doesn't understand and takes for granted, until one moves out and breaks the balance.

Having said that, I have broken the rule a number of times, because discomfort is not necessarily a bad thing. Necessity is the mother of invention, so if you're healthy, robust, and not too much in debt (or have an ARM mortgage that's going to explode around the corner...) then it couldn't hurt to challenge yourself by leaving your comfort zone, every now and then :-)

Never. (1)

Maxwell (13985) | about 7 months ago | (#46336801)

You have it very good. Don't blow it. Use the 'extra' money you now make and the free time you now have to volunteer somewhere (or spend time with your kids, or pursue a hobby, or travel). There are non-profits begging to get work done end-to-end. You can do exactly the same thing, and feel good about it, while keeping your boring job.

If you are serious, have your payroll deposited into two accounts. One is the lower salary of the exciting job. The other is the 'bonus' money of your current job. You'll find the bonus money piles up and allows you freedom to pursue other interests outside of work.

Is it really a Better Career Opportunity? (1)

Usefull Idiot (202445) | about 7 months ago | (#46336809)

You have to evaluate what that means for you -
1. How long will you be at the lower pay level? What is their evaluation process?
2. Do you believe in the companies product?
3. Will they require more time from you, and are you willing to put in that time, for less pay? Think about it as less time for everything else in your life.
4. Will this experience truly be better for you in X years?
5. What happens if the Company with the "Better Career Opportunity" runs into financial difficulties? I assume they are less stable, how do you handle situations without a sure footing?

I did it. (2)

DaveV1.0 (203135) | about 7 months ago | (#46336811)

My answer is simple: when taking the job will improve your life more than having the extra money. I get more respect, have more time off, am happier, and am still able to pay my bills and put money away.

2 pay cuts in 2 years (2)

yorgo (595005) | about 7 months ago | (#46336813)

In the past 2 years, I've been at 5 companies and taken 2 pay cuts. All voluntary.

My “compensation pie” is made up of many pieces. Only one of them is salary. The piece of the pie that was sorely missing was "satisfaction" ("happiness", "contentment").

After 2 years, I finally found a company that *wants* me (my skills and what I have to offer), and actually allows me to contribute. This helps fill my "satisfaction" piece of my "compensation pie”.

You need to figure out your own pie pieces, and the size/importance of each.

Meanwhile, I'm confident enough in my abilities that I'm not too worried about future salaries.

Re:2 pay cuts in 2 years (1)

yorgo (595005) | about 7 months ago | (#46336857)

FWIW, aside from "satisfaction", the other pieces of my "compensation pie" are "salary" (+raise/bonus), "benefits", "time-off", and "investment options".

I would say yes, but..... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46336821)

"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"

If you think this is a problem, you probably don't understand why having architecture experts who make these decisions is a good thing, rather than letting developers do what they like . However, architecture roles and what they entail can vary enormously between diferent companies - the best people to manage this responsibility always have a strong background of years of successful development work, with plenty of time supporting, upgrading and maintaining their systems too.

But it sounds like you really want to take on more responsibility and feel you are ready for it, so why not go for it ? The worst that can happen if it doesn't work out is that you'll need to find another job, so unless that might be difficult for any reason, follow what you really want to do. If you want to move this way up the IT career ladder then you will have to make such a move at some stage, but be prepared for more stress and problems : you won't just be churning out pretty diagrams all day long...... and some of the meetings and business people you will have to deal with will probably drive you nuts.

Almost never. (1)

cfulton (543949) | about 7 months ago | (#46336831)

Unless, it is from something you don't like to something you do (for instance from "IT Guy" to "Developer" or vice versa depending on your likes). Even then lowering your pay is simply the one of the options open to you. With a little more looking you might find that you can change and increase you pay. You have to be VERY careful because an employer is looking to minimize his expense and maximize your productivity. So, always bargain hard and start high. You can always move your price down, but you can't really move it up.

Work is work (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46336835)

Oh come on, .... In that case go for the money and do something interesting out of business hours.

Remember the six P's (1)

LoRdTAW (99712) | about 7 months ago | (#46336841)

When Is a Better Career Opportunity Worth a Pay Cut?

When you can comfortably think it through and say to yourself:
"This new job looks like it will be way more fulfilling than what I am doing now"
*OR*
"This new job looks like it won't have me looking to jump off a bridge every day like my current job"

*AND*

When you are financially stable enough to do so. E.g. you can live comfortably enough with your new salary while being able to satisfy debts (loans, mortgages etc.).

Then you can make your choice. If the new job doesn't pan out, the you keep looking. My current job is challenging yet fun, I do a range of things from custom software and electronics to industrial automation. Right now I am integrating a new IPG solid state laser (4kW, its a bad ass machine but they do go to 50kW!) with an existing workstation and moving the old pulsed laser to a dedicated workstation for a high volume job coming in. The awesome part is they leave me alone to design and build the systems while ALMOST handing me a blank check. I have really sharpened my skills and have worked with some very talented senior people. So far I really like working here. Is the pay good? Nope, its terrible for what I am doing but I am not anywhere near struggling to live. Plus I do work on the side which brings in extra cash when I need it. I am mainly happy in life. And that is the most important thing.

this is simple (1)

slashmydots (2189826) | about 7 months ago | (#46336845)

I worked an awful job for more money and now I work a great job for slightly less money. I prefer the job I have now. So I'd say the additional money and benefits aren't worth working at a worse job unless of course you were an idiot and got a mortgage for 54.9999% of your annual income.

Hold the phone... (4, Insightful)

bobbied (2522392) | about 7 months ago | (#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.

I can also weigh in from experience (1)

fair_n_hite_451 (712393) | about 7 months ago | (#46336959)

About 10 years ago I left a fairly established consulting gig with a company that was winding down operations / being acquired.

Had to make a decision to move to the new company & stay in the same becoming-boring job or strike out again and search out the small internet startup / potentially rich-making / more exciting and hugely more risky gigs.

I chose the latter.

End up getting screwed on the IPO on both of them (one went private instead of public and screwed everyone but the founder), one reneged on the handshake deal I had with the president (since he left before the IPO happened - he'd been outsted by the founder). With my kids getting a bit older, I then went and hid out at a big company where the money was stable for 6 years to trade on benefits instead of income potential. However, I wouldn't trade the experience of working for those small, nimble outfits for anything because I've carried the "of course we can change that - what's to stop us?" attitude that you build up in that environment everywhere I've been since.

It's made me a better consultant, no doubt.

Someone above questioned where you are in life and that to me is a huge factor. Are you married? Do you have children? Are you the sole breadwinner in your family? What financial obligations are going to be there whether you are working or not (like a mortgage or retirement savings)?

The choice between a small company where you can make a difference every day and decisions are made in the president's office in an afternoon (but "the money" can vanish overnight) and a large company where it feels like you are trying to steer the Titanic (but the money will be there all day every day) is somewhat about what makes you tick. Are you an adreneline junky? Are you risk averse? How about the other people who are counting on you? (if there are any)

Don't do it... (1)

AudioEfex (637163) | about 7 months ago | (#46336997)

You have the typical recurring "job blues".

I've had it before - but as you said yourself - you currently have "good benefits, lots of vacation time, very good salary" - not many folks can say that, particularly the last part.

If you were totally miserable, that would be one thing, but since you are clearly not and are just irritated with the way most companies end up working (that small start-up, if successful, will very likely turn into the same thing eventually), the best idea for personal fulfillment is to find a hobby, find some volunteer work where you think you can make a difference, find other things in life that fulfill you - which is good advice anyway, too many people look for their life meaning in how they generate income when the point of generating income is to be able to enjoy your life.

Since you aren't miserable, just frustrated, you don't want to take the chance that in a year your start-up goes belly up, when you've worked 52 weeks straight, had to scrimp and save money because your 'very good' salary is gone, and you look back and realize just how good you have it right now.

Normally I wouldn't be so blunt, but you did ask for advice - LOL - and that's the best I think anyone can give you who isn't living in the clouds or just blowing idealistic smoke up your ass because they don't know you as you are some random guy on the Internet they will never hear about again either way.

Don't leave your current job. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46337037)

But offer to work as a paid consultant for the other company to fix all their issues. Yes, you'll have less free time, but you'll get to see first-hand what working for the other company would really be like (personalities, working conditions, etc) without sacrificing what you already have. Your resume will look just as good, you'll get the extra experience and creative problem-solving you're looking for, and that will make your current full-time job that much more bearable, interest-wise.
If the other employer/company really wants you to do work for them, then they'll have no problem with you consulting x hours per week. If they give you flak over it, consider that a red flag you discovered without giving up the good job you already have.

"A bird in the hand..."

CAPTCHA: "scoped"!

You are gonna get punked! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46337085)

That's a rotten deal. You are going to take a pay cut, but you are still way too late to be a core member of a growing company. If you have a good job you had better hold on to it. This is the age old bullshit, you will make less money but look at the opportunity! Not gonna happen. You are going to get punked, I think.

Always pick quality of life/happiness (2)

DigitalSorceress (156609) | about 7 months ago | (#46337087)

I took a $10,000 a year paycut when I left my previous employer to come to work for my current company... because I felt that I'd be much happier/have a better quality of work-life (old job was starting to destroy my soul / passion for programming)

they wanted to hire me at my previous salary, but it was just not possible under their budgets/etc.

I took the job anyway because I felt their culture and my work quality of life would jsut be a great match.

Now, a couple years later, I've more than made up the difference in pay (proved my worth and the $$$ got found) and am just stupidly happy with this job.

It's actually true that the worst days at my current job are still better than most of the best days for the last 3 years of my previous one.

Basically, I've tried to always value happiness more than pure financial gain, and I've reaped the rewards of "love what you do for a living and you'll never ~work~ another day in your life".

Good Luck

My take on it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46337101)

... is that you don't care about the fulfillment you get from your job, but just what you can put on your resume.

If all you want is stuff to put on your resume, by all means take the job. If you can't handle the fact that Architects make design decisions (which is their job) and you are expected to implement those decisions as a developer (which is your job), then by all means, take the new job.

Translation. (1)

Lumpy (12016) | about 7 months ago | (#46337109)

We dont want to afford you, will you come work for us for chump change?

They can afford you, they just hope you will be stupid and be blinded by the "opportunity".

Take a spiritual inventory and make a game plan (2)

sdinfoserv (1793266) | about 7 months ago | (#46337135)

I’m 51 and been through many variations– upsized, downsized, self-employment, public, private, smalls, large, leveraged buyouts you name it.
. I’ve left for money, I’ve left bad bosses, I’ve left for security, and I’ve left for geography. Also know that I’ve never had any difficulty getting a new job at any age. I just jumped companies last year at age 50. Once I decided on a change, it took 3 months to find a new job across the county while keeping the old gig. (Middle age crazy, wanted a climate change). If you’re competent and can communicate, there is a need.. Granted I’m in management now (10+ years) rather than programming and we have to maximize the skill set we have as well as always keep growing.

Outside of Government work, if your name isn’t over the door, you (IT) are a disposable commodity. You are the first to get cut in lean times and the last to get hired in good ones. Also, know that nobody is ever indispensable. Leverage and balance those facts to your advantage. Nobody will watch out for your ass but you.

To answer your question: Know what makes you happy. Form an ultimate game plan of what you want and where you want to end up. Every opportunity must past a simple litmus test: Does it lead you closer to end game? Only you can answer that. Good Luck.

Make a decision (1)

zwarte piet (1023413) | about 7 months ago | (#46337143)

..... and don't look back.

Do as you are told (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46337147)

My philosophy is, I will do whatever my employer asks me to do, because their name is in the upper left corner of my paycheck. I get paid to do what they ask me to do, not to do what I feel like I want to do.

If you want to do what you want to do, then go start your own business and make your own rules. If you fail it, it will be your own doing, and you can probably find comfort in that.

But, as long as you're working for someone else, suck it up and enjoy those paychecks. Your quality of life is to be found at home, not at the office. Work is a job, not a life.

developers vs. architects (1)

TsuruchiBrian (2731979) | about 7 months ago | (#46337173)

most of the decisions are made by architects as oppose to developers.

This is probably a good thing. Ideally all software developers would be good software architects as well, and we could always trust them to make good high level design choices. In practice this is just not the case. My suggestion to anyone the position of wanting to make higher level design choices is to do whatever you can to get that sort of a promotion or to do what the OP is contemplating and move to a smaller company where the head (maybe only) developer (i.e. you) *is* the architect.

Lots of people are perfectly content implementing other people's designs or hunting down bugs, etc. We don't want everybody to have input into high level design. Some aren't going to be good at it. And even if everybody was good at it, having every developer writing code with their own design methodology is going to result in a big mess. Too many cooks spoil the broth. Consistency of vision is good (assuming the vision is good, if it's not you're fucked anyway).

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