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How to decide between your current job and a new opportunity

October 19, 2022 - 14 min read

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Know what you want

How to compare job offers

Extra tips to consider

Follow your intuition

Gallup reports that about half of American workers are either actively job searching or watching for new opportunities. 

And when one of them leaves, it’s usually not because of a higher salary offer. They do it because they’re already disengaged, and changing jobs promises to be more interesting.

If the Great Resignation taught us anything, it’s that workers aren’t afraid to leave their jobs if they can have a better life elsewhere. In the first half of 2022, more than 4 million people switched jobs every month.

And it’s not likely to stop soon. If you’re employed and have one eye on the job market, you’re not alone. But searching for a new role and accepting an offer are different things. Whether you’re haphazardly searching or desperately job hunting, the stakes change when you have a real opportunity to move on.

How do you know you’re making the right choice? You might fear failure in a more challenging role, burning bridges at your current company, or being labeled as a job-hopper. You may also be worried about how a career change would affect your life outside of work.

Trying to balance all of these considerations may leave you feeling overwhelmed. So here’s how to decide between a current job and a new job.

 

Know what you want

Your first step in comparing jobs should always be to start with yourself. Self-awareness and clear career goals should guide your decision-making.

Here are some questions to find a clear path forward.

  • What do I really want out of my work life? Do you want a better work-life balance? Creative freedom? Leadership opportunities? Unless you’re clear on what you want, you’ll end up as dissatisfied with your new job as your current one.
  • Have I explored everything available to me right now? Have you done everything you can to improve your current situation? Perhaps an honest conversation with your boss about your goals would be more fruitful than quiet quitting or jumping ship.
  • If there were no consequences, what would I do with my time? Would you do this next job if they didn’t pay you for it? If not, will it help bring you closer to something you would enjoy? No job will be perfect, but ideally, your new role will bring you closer to your passion.

There are many good reasons to leave a job. Most of them are personal. Whether you’re changing careers at 40 or you’ve spent too much time in your current role, take your time to decide on your next career move. 

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How to compare job offers

Deciding between a job offer and your current job involves measuring them both against your dream job. In other words, your vision is the yardstick against which you’ll compare both opportunities.

To do this, create a job comparison chart or spreadsheet. Your three main columns will be:

  • Your ideal job
  • Your new job offer
  • Your current job

Then each row will be a category for comparison:

  • Salary
  • Benefits
  • Bonuses
  • Growth potential and professional development opportunities
  • Company perks
  • Company culture
  • Company reputation
  • Skills
  • Work environment

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Feel free to add other categories that matter to you, like commute time or a remote-work option. Then, fill in each box with the necessary information. How do your current role and new job offer stack up against your ideal scenario? Seeing every element side-by-side can help you see your choices more clearly. 

You should also consider ranking each category. On a scale of one to ten, write down how important each one is to you. If your new role looks great but requires a massive pay cut, your score for “salary” will tell you whether it’s a dealbreaker. You may decide a pay cut is worth it for the extra benefits if your financial wellness won’t suffer.

Here’s what you should consider for each category:

1. Salary

On the surface, this metric seems easy enough: does your new job have a lower or higher salary than your current position? But it’s possible to receive a raise and still be underpaid. Use websites like Glassdoor to make sure the company is compensating you fairly for the time and skills required of you, independent of your current salary. 

2. Benefits package

Weighing a prospective job’s benefits is a bit more complex. Here are some other types of benefits you might expect or want to consider:

  • Health insurance: Make sure to read your plan in detail. Evaluate what each plan covers, how much insurance premium they’ll cover, and what provider they use.
  • Paid time off (PTO) and vacation time: How many days off per year do both companies offer? Will you have to work on certain holidays, like Christmas and Thanksgiving? 
  • Retirement: Not all employers offer retirement benefits. Check if they’ll match your 401k contributions and/or defer your pre-tax earnings into a retirement account.
  • Sick leave. Do you have to use your PTO when you’re sick, or can you use designated sick days? Some companies may also offer mental health days — time off for you to relax and recharge without fear of negative consequences.

3. Bonuses

You may be eligible for bonuses if you work in the private sector. Every company issues them differently, so it’s worth comparing to see which you prefer. Some will offer holiday bonuses, while others will issue company stocks that pay dividends. 

4. Professional development opportunities

Even if your current job isn’t perfect, could it be a step toward something better? A rapidly growing company might be worth sticking around to earn a promotion and climb the ladder. Alternatively, a lateral move to a new company might make sense if you’ll have a clear career path up the ladder or a similar trajectory with more support.

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5. Company perks

In addition to regular benefits, some companies give cell phones or company cars. Others provide free lunches or the option to work from home. These offerings might be enough to sway you in a certain direction.

6. Work culture

As you went through the interview process, the hiring managers probably gave you a sense of the company culture. Is it a highly collaborative environment, or do they work independently?

Do they regularly have informal gatherings, like happy-hour hangouts or mid-day birthday parties? These day-to-day elements can severely affect your well-being in a work environment, so it’s worth considering them seriously.

7. Company reputation

Carefully evaluate the history of the company and its projection. You want to make sure your job isn’t a blight on your resume, so the more information you have, the better. Is the company growing quickly? Are they more innovative than their competition? Do they attract the best talent? These are usually good signs. 

You can also ask other industry insiders what they think of your prospective organization. They’ll hopefully tell you about any red flags.

8. Skills

Consider what transferable skills you will be using every day. This is the bread and butter of your job, so you have to make sure you’ll enjoy it. Don’t proceed with a solitary coding role if you really value teamwork and face-to-face interactions. 

You should also ensure you’re building the new skills you want. If writing social media content is your least favorite part of your current job, you probably won’t enjoy it more elsewhere. Make sure your new position plays to your other strengths — ones you care about developing.

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Extra tips to consider

Your job comparison chart is a great way to compare companies and make an informed decision, but here are some extra tips to remember:

  • Consider your life outside of your job. More often than not, life is about finding the right balance in how you spend your time. If you’re a single 20-something with no commitments, you might be fine working long days and weekends. But if you’re older, you might value spending time with your spouse or meeting other obligations.
  • Ask as many questions about your job offer as you need. Make sure you’re comfortable with every facet of the agreement. This will hugely influence your life for the next while, so it’s important to set clear expectations between you and your prospective employer.
  • Ask yourself, “What if,” but don’t linger on it. What if you took the new job? What if you stayed? These questions can be useful visualization tools, but they can paralyze you if you let them. Ponder on them for a minute, then move on. Trust your gut. 

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Follow your intuition

Deciding between a current job and a new job isn’t easy. You might feel a lot of pressure to make the right decision, scared that a mistake will lead you down an irreversible path.

When you feel overwhelmed, remember this: nothing is permanent. As long as you gave your due diligence, you can trust you made the best decision with the information you had. If it ends up being a mistake, you can learn from it and try again.

When you’re stuck on a decision, ask someone else to choose for you. If you’re disappointed by their answer, you’re probably leaning in the other direction. And if you’re disappointed either way (because you can’t have both), you have two excellent options before you. 

It’s also worth noting that, in some cases, there’s no wrong choice. Your current job and new offer may be equal in some ways but radically different in others. Trust your intuition and let yourself be the deciding factor. Then, you can simply enjoy the ride.

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Published October 19, 2022

Shonna Waters, PhD

Vice President of Alliance Solutions

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