I’m Turning Down A Job That Will Pay $30k More

“We would like to offer you the job.”

Oh what sweet, sweet words to hear. Every so often, I like to send out my resume to test the job market in my area. Is it because I like to waste employers’ time while I am perfectly happy at my own job? No! The unfortunate truth is that to see a significant raise in salary, the best thing to do for your career is to job hop. While the average pay raises barely keep up with inflation, job hoppers can see 10-20% increases.

Whereas in the past, loyalty to a company marked employees as trustworthy hires, these days job hopping is becoming the norm. This makes sense, as it is nearly impossible for companies to keep up with the rising demand of talent in the market.

Although some warn against job hopping due to lingering stigma around restless-job-syndrome, the fact is that workers are paid significantly more when they switch jobs. So why stay?

The fact is that workers are paid significantly more when they switch jobs. So why stay?Click To Tweet

The Benefits of Job Hunting, Even If Your Current Job Is Fine

I advocate interviewing every few months even if you have no intention of leaving your job. There are several reasons why this is a good habit to get into:

You get to practice negotiating with recruiters

The first few times you are asked what salary range you are targeting, it can be a stressful experience. After all, this single conversation can define how much money you make for the next few years! It takes a lot of market research to get a good idea of what is fair pay. Often, the salary you should negotiate for is far above what you make currently, which can feel uncomfortable to ask for. Once you repeat this conversation, it starts to get much easier to ask for what you deserve.

Your resume, LinkedIn, and cover letters stay up-to-date

The more often you revisit your resume, the better it will be. If an opportunity comes along that you are extremely keen about, you don’t have to spend days revamping your resume.

You can practice your interviewing skills

Interviewing has that special anxiety-inducing ability to put you on the spot. The more you do, the more comfortable you will be. Typically this also helps you shape your career journey into a story– you will have a bunch of experiences to draw from for each interview to prove your capability for the role.

If you are interviewing for a technical role, doing a take-home assignment or live coding questions can be quite intimidating and a blocker for many who would like to change jobs. However, with practice these assignments get easier and live coding becomes less intimidating, so you will be prepared when you really want the job.

You might get an offer you can’t refuse

If you start casually looking, the pressure is off to find the perfect job. But what if a company you interview with really stands out? In the process of practice, you might actually stumble upon a job that is a really great fit, with better pay and benefits. Wins all around!

That’s all well and good, but what happens when you get an offer you can refuse?

My Next Move: Send My Resume To A Recruiter

With this in mind, I brushed up my resume, as it’s been a year (can you believe I’ve lived in The Netherlands for over a year?!) and about time I get a little more practice. It’s also important for me to get back on the job hunt now that the stress is off. Last year I knew I wanted to move to The Netherlands, and was okay with compromising my salary in order to get the assistance to move abroad. Now that I’m here, I’m interested in learning more about the tech job market and what other kind of roles are out there.

When I saw a job posted in an online forum around tech leadership, I hopped over to their job board and sent my resume.

Interviewing: The Information Gathering Stage

Within a week, I had spoken to the recruiter, interviewed with the CTO, Director of Engineering, and two engineering managers who would be my peers.

Offer Stage: The Good News

Two days later, I received a call while commuting on a loud train. I try to hear the recruiter over the din of the train coming out of a tunnel: we would like to talk next steps.

The offer was quite good on paper:

  • 2 promotion levels from current role
  • $30,000 more in base salary
  • Fully remote
  • A pension scheme (current job has none)
  • 30 holidays + bank holidays (current job has 25 holidays + bank holidays)
  • Generous Employee Stock Option Plan (though with a 4 year vest and 2 year cliff, I don’t factor in this benefit much)
  • In person meet ups in Dublin, paid for by the company (free trips to Ireland? yes please 🍀)

Offer Stage: The Bad News

In my head, I imagined how job offers are usually received: muting the phone in order to dance and cheer with excitement. Personally, I found it hard to drum up much enthusiasm.

Uninteresting industry

During the interview process, I told my friend that I wasn’t particularly interested in the job after learning more about it. For years I have taken jobs without bothering about the industry or even the products themselves. I was more interested in the work, the impression I had of the team, and the pay. Searching for a new job while already having a job that is “good enough” provides some advantages. I can now afford to be picky in a way I never have before. In this case, I was not particularly passionate about the industry or product I would be working on.

Lack of diversity

I also noticed a general lack of diversity, or at least a desire for more diversity at the company. One manager mentioned his goal to hire a back-end “guy”, and the hiring process included a personality diagnostic test, which can harm diversity efforts. I’m used to working in a field dominated by white men, but I’m not interested in a work culture that does not show care towards changing that reality.

The role is in the UK

Unfortunately, even though the role is fully remote, I would need to move from The Netherlands in order to take it. The rules are complicated, but essentially, the company does not offer visa sponsorship here. This is a huge downside for me, as I’m not ready to leave the country.

There are a few ways people generally get around this. Some start a company, hire themselves as an employee and sign a business-to-business contract with their new employer. However, many benefits do not transfer through this method, and there are other limitations to making it work. For example, many are disqualified from this strategy because you must have established your business before moving to The Netherlands.

Evaluating What I Want

Pursuing financial independence has taught me to always revisit the question: What do you want?

The entire idea around FIRE is figuring out what you value, and then aligning your spending to those things. In this case, I figure out what I value, and align my earnings as well.

Here are the questions I asked myself when considering the offer:

How do I feel in my gut?

Numbers on a page are one thing, but listening to your own intuition can help with the decision-making process. The reality is, if I stick with my gut on this job offer, I am not excited about the job. The promotion and pay raise is not enough to consider uprooting my life again. I value living in The Netherlands. My plan is to stay here at least through the end of the year. I value work-life balance. The new role would be a lot of extra responsibilities, and that work would eat up the comfortable rhythm I currently have at my job. Ultimately, I didn’t want to mute the phone and jump up and down, and that is my answer.

What are my other options?

One of my goals in life is to live nomadically and slow travel the world. Because of my early focus on frugality, saving, and investing, I have the funds to support that type of lifestyle. Realistically, I can work at my current job for as long as I want to live in The Netherlands, and then take a sabbatical as planned. I like my current job, so I should only take the new job if it really appeals to me. If the new job will be a new headache, I can afford to let it go.

That said, if I were willing to leave The Netherlands in the next couple of months, I could take this job and work remotely as I travel. I would have to explore what this means for my taxes and how long I’m legally allowed to be out of the UK. However, this is not my preference. I would prefer to take a true sabbatical and travel unencumbered by work.

woman laying in hammock in mountains
What I will look like next year, hopefully

Will there be other opportunities?

This was one of the first jobs I’ve applied to in my casual search! Because there isn’t much pressure to get a job right away, I applied when I saw something interesting. After the interviews, I found out it is not a good fit, but that’s okay– it’s part of the exercise. There will be other jobs (I say this with all the hubris of a software engineer).

What Are The Next Steps?

Communicate your deal-breakers to the company

If there is something they could do to fix these deal-breakers, then maybe we have a deal. Why not try? If they can’t, then we can amicably part ways. This means figuring out if there is a salary that would make me reconsider moving. It also means mentioning my desire not to move– companies might have other ways of solving these dilemmas.

Get pickier

This experience taught me to be even pickier when applying to jobs. In the past I might have accepted offers from companies in industries that didn’t excite me, that didn’t prioritize diversity, and in the case of moving to The Netherlands, don’t even pay that well. The beauty of financial independence means that the more cushion you have, the pickier you can be.

If high pay is my aim, $30k is actually not that big of a jump. The pay cut I took last year was much more than $30k, so I know there is a lot of room to improve salary-wise. If that were my goal, I could move back to the U.S., or figure out how to work for a U.S. company from abroad.

Now I can afford to analyze the industry, the role, the work, the team, the benefits, and all the other aspects that make up the jobs where we spend 40 hours (or more) a week.

Take these lessons to the next job hunt

Even though I ultimately turned down the job offer, I still got a lot out of the experience. My resume is all spruced up, my interviewing skills sharper, and my confidence increased. I benefitted from the chance to practice negotiating in different currencies, solidified my own understanding of my career goals, and can now go into the next phase of job hunting with more data.

Next time when someone says, “We would like to offer you the job,” I will be ready to put myself on mute and do a little jig.

My new motto: No jig, no gig!Click To Tweet

What Do You Think?

What was the last job offer you turned down?

Have you sent out your resume while happy in your current job?

Are you a Job-Hopper or a Career-Loyalist?

Please share in the comments below!

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4 Comments

  1. Congratulations on the job offer! That’s exciting. As someone who has worked for the same employer for 21 years I’m always amazed by the ease at which some people seem to float from awesome job offer to awesome job offer.

    And a big congratulations on being introspective and understanding that the job wouldn’t make you happy!!

  2. Wow! I learned so much from your post. As someone seeking FIRE, it is all about what you want our of your life. It seems living in the Netherlands right now is what you want. Sticking to your values is a admirable thing.

    Thank you for your words of wisdom on job hopping. Many people are afraid to go out and look for new jobs, but you are right about find better offers.

  3. I stayed at one company for over 30 years going from intern to running the place. I received dozens of job offers for much more than I was making over the years but never took them. However what I did do was to share the details of the better offers with my boss. That gave him the ammunition to get his boss to come through with better pay for me. I averaged 9% raises across that long career and never had to switch companies thanks to info I gleaned from recruiters.

  4. It’s a wonderful thing to be in a position to make employment choices based on your values, desired lifestyle, and lwvel of interest rather than needing to reflexively choose from a financial perspective. It sounds like the process of looking, interviewing, and negotiating was very valuable though. I have been a career loyalist for the last ten years, but I work in a particular niche (public health), and there have been both mission-driven and practical reasons to stay (a government pension). However, as a nurse, changing positions can be a good opportunity to learn new skills and apply them in a different context.

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