Archive for March 3, 2009
Before graduating from college, (nearly ten years ago), I was presented with two very different job offers. The first offer consisted of a $45,000 salary working as a marketing assistant for a small technical organization that employed only sixteen people. The second offer consisted of a $30,000 salary working as a software engineer for a fortune 500 company that employed nearly 5000.
The first offer came from the CEO of the company I interned for throughout my senior year of college. I was comfortable with that job because I was familiar the people and the responsibilities. The second job offer was much more vague. I thoroughly researched the company, but other than two job interviews I knew little about the position, my responsibilities or the expectations for the job.
I weighed my options over and over again and asked everyone for their opinions of the two offers. Of course, I received conflicting advice on the subject, as half the people told me to take the first job and half the people told me to take the second. On one hand I had a familiar job with a significantly higher pay rate, on the other I had a completely unknown job with a much smaller salary.
After days of contemplation I ultimately chose the second offer and in the end my reasoning was actually quite simple. Although the first job paid more money upfront it ultimately limited my earning and growth potential. In a company of sixteen there were exactly three people working in the marketing department. The head of the marketing department had been at the company since it’s inception, so at best I could move up maybe one slot to my bosses’ position. My boss had also been with the company for many years so that too seemed highly unlikely. The other problem was that the company sold only one technical device, which meant that I would be forced to market the same exact piece of equipment over and over again.
I decided that my potential for growth at a fortune 500 company with 5000 other employees far outweighed the benefit of a higher salary. I also knew that I would not only learn more in the second job, but also that my potential for a higher salary would grow as a direct result of the knowledge I attained. I worked my tail off in those first few years out of college. I volunteered for every new project, saddled up next to the smartest developers and worked long beyond 9-to-5 to absorb as much information and knowledge as I could. I constantly felt challenged and fell in the love with the excitement of continually learning new things.
Looking back on that moment in my life I can say with utmost certainty that I made the perfect career choice at that time. Now, ten years later and considering a second job change, I am trying to decide what factors to take into consideration before taking a new job. Just like last time I want to work for a company that provides superior growth potential. This time around I now know that I am not interested in climbing the corporate ladder, rather I am interested in a job that will expand my knowledge. I want to work on interesting projects that involve inventive solutions. I want to feel challenged and excited.
I know that I need to take pay into consideration, but I would actually be willing to take a minor pay cut to be able to achieve the factors listed above. Still I know that I need to focus on salary and other financial benefits such as company retirement contributions, health insurance subsidies and additional insurance costs like life or disability. I’d also prefer a job with flexible work hours and telecommuting, I know this might not be something I can attain right off the bat at a new company, but I want to know that I can eventually earn these privileges. In general I know that commuting time is a big consideration and I would like to limit my overall drive to less than 30 minutes if possible.
I’m sure that there are other factors I should consider, but I am having a difficult time weighing them against one another. It has been ten years since my first pivotal job decision and I am at a much different point in my life. My husband and I would ultimately like to start a family and I know that I want to balance my time and responsibilities at work with the time I spend at home with my family. As I search for a new job I am not certain where to focus my attention. There are so many important factors when choosing a job, so which factor should I focus on the most: flexibility, salary, stability, growth…?