It seems my readers are a fairly risk-averse crowd, with a surprising (at least to me) number saying go for the larger company (Job 1).
I honestly thought for a very long while that’s what I wanted. After some serious navel-gazing and some counsel from close friends and family, it seems that, well, not so much. Thinking about my “favourite” jobs (or favourite aspects of past jobs) I kept going back to the crazy, crazy times I had in startups and non-profits. Few people and fewer resources were balanced out by a lot of enthusiasm and energy. The successes were always far, far sweeter at the end of the day.
The craving for stability has been a response to external pushes. Criticisms that my resume showed too much “movement.” Too many industries. Big red flags. It was a serious barrier to getting interviews. However, the companies who did think to question the situation and my motivation were generally impressed with my chutzpah, ability to recognize opportunities and damn impressed with my work samples to boot. I still hold an impressive interview/job offer ratio, being offered about 75% of the jobs I have in-person interviews for. Perhaps this “liability” has acted as a filter for companies where I could do well instead?
My biggest concern was still figuring out what I wanted out of an employer. Job 1 isn’t a typical “big machine” large company, and Job 2 isn’t a typical startup or microbusiness. Looking at the day-to-day work and opportunities, while I could definitely see myself at Job 1, I was more excited and actually starting to strategize campaigns in my head for the role at Job 2.
That doesn’t mean my decision was any sort of easy, though. I ended up navigating my way through my first salary negotiation/bidding war. Probably not very successfully (depending on your definition of success – which probably isn’t “sit at home a freak the fuck out for a few hours on which way to go while offers and increases roll in”), though I’m still pleased with the outcome.
Both initial offers were completely fair. I make it a point to stay on-top of salary surveys etc. for my industry. Both were on the higher end of the median for that role and my experience. Job 2’s initial offer was higher, though not substantially so. And salary certainly isn’t everything.
After presenting their offer, Job 2 called a couple times to see if I had any further questions, and to lay on the “we really want you” sugar. I expressed my concerns about the potential risk. This is when Job 2 increased their offer.
I really appreciate the way Job 2 went about the process. They acknowledged my concerns, put their money where their mouths are and increased their compensation in a way that showed they were serious – though the increase was certainly not excessive. Their recruitment was aggressive, but I never felt unduly pressured. I also strongly suspect they did their homework, googled me, and may have been reading my blog yesterday. Blogging as negotiation tactic? Perhaps something to explore…
Anyway, I informed Job 1 of the situation, and that I didn’t expect them to change their compensation, but wanted to thank them for the opportunity and tell them that I’d be declining their offer.
Job 1 immediately offered to match Job 2. A full 25% increase in salary and 50% increase in vacation compared to their initial offer. Of course that showed they wanted me on their team, but it also showed they really low-balled me on the first offer. Their first offer was fair and exactly within the range I told them I expected, so the huge increase seems knee-jerk and based on nothing more than competition. I still have mixed feelings about it. So I declined again, and faxed my acceptance to the start-up.
And that’s where things stand today.
My first day’s on Monday, and I’m beyond pleased that I finally feel settled.