Author Topic: Hypothetical - deciding between two jobs...benefits vs interesting work  (Read 5916 times)

jeromedawg

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 2931
  • Location: Orange County, CA
This seems to be a recurring thread in many peoples' job searches. Typically they end up with two offers or prospects where one job has great benefits and pay but not as "exciting" work and the other job has decent (but not as great) benefits and pay and more exciting or interesting work.

Which do you choose, and why?

Expatriate

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 40
Re: Hypothetical - deciding between two jobs...benefits vs interesting work
« Reply #1 on: November 02, 2015, 10:26:35 AM »
Hands down the exciting work. Because it's more exciting you're more likely to put in the extra effort that makes you develop your skills, ending up making more. Plus it'll be more, well, exciting.

jeromedawg

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 2931
  • Location: Orange County, CA
Re: Hypothetical - deciding between two jobs...benefits vs interesting work
« Reply #2 on: November 02, 2015, 10:55:53 AM »
Hands down the exciting work. Because it's more exciting you're more likely to put in the extra effort that makes you develop your skills, ending up making more. Plus it'll be more, well, exciting.

What about the position with better pay and benefits being a 100% telecommute position vs the more exciting work position which is a 30 minute commute?

Kitsune

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1837
Re: Hypothetical - deciding between two jobs...benefits vs interesting work
« Reply #3 on: November 02, 2015, 11:41:40 AM »
Hands down the exciting work. Because it's more exciting you're more likely to put in the extra effort that makes you develop your skills, ending up making more. Plus it'll be more, well, exciting.

What about the position with better pay and benefits being a 100% telecommute position vs the more exciting work position which is a 30 minute commute?

I think it depends if you're the kind of person who is capable of the self-discipline of putting in the effort on something you don't find interesting, long-term. Personally: if I find it interesting, I will rock at it, find new ways to do it, and likely turn part of it into a side gig. If I don't find it interesting, about 2 weeks in I'll be surfing the internet, so... not likely to lead to long-term happiness and productivity and new skills.

So, ASSUMING  the new job with the extra commute was interesting enough, I'd try to argue it into a partial telecommute position by citing other offers. I've done it before! :)


DaveR

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 243
Re: Hypothetical - deciding between two jobs...benefits vs interesting work
« Reply #4 on: November 02, 2015, 11:48:10 AM »
Benefits and pay tend to hang around... excitement tends to taper off. After two months, that "exciting job" has transformed to just a "job."

And commuting has a cost, so telecommute vs drive time means that the "exciting" job has to be my lifelong boyhood dream job before I want to take $10k less and be stuck in a car for 250 hours a year...

jeromedawg

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 2931
  • Location: Orange County, CA
Re: Hypothetical - deciding between two jobs...benefits vs interesting work
« Reply #5 on: November 02, 2015, 12:06:53 PM »
Benefits and pay tend to hang around... excitement tends to taper off. After two months, that "exciting job" has transformed to just a "job."

And commuting has a cost, so telecommute vs drive time means that the "exciting" job has to be my lifelong boyhood dream job before I want to take $10k less and be stuck in a car for 250 hours a year...

That's the concern....especially if the interesting work is also the kind of work that can cause high levels of frustration in trying to figure stuff out. I can sense the burnout amidst it being interesting or fun at times. I guess I should have phrased it more along the lines of better learning experience in a more 'fun' work culture...or a fast paced cutting edge tech job that doesn't pay as well and requires commute vs a pretty slow and work-with-old-tech postion that is telecommute and better pay/benefits
« Last Edit: November 02, 2015, 12:08:27 PM by jplee3 »

mxt0133

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1559
  • Location: San Francisco
Re: Hypothetical - deciding between two jobs...benefits vs interesting work
« Reply #6 on: November 02, 2015, 12:32:53 PM »
Trying to evaluate these two against each other without context is kind of futile.  It entirely depends on where you are in life.

For example if you are just starting out your career then the new tech and commute might trump the telecommuting and higher pay.  Being part of a co-located team, for the most part, should be more beneficial to your career and pay in the long-term.  However, if you are already a senior and can do the job while watching cat videos in you PJs well then the higher pay and no commute would probably outweigh the benefits of being in the office for face time and career growth.

What are your goals?  How long to you think you'll be working?  As someone else already pointed out how is you self discipline, can you do the boring work if no one is looking over your shoulders?

okits

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 8889
  • Location: Canada
Re: Hypothetical - deciding between two jobs...benefits vs interesting work
« Reply #7 on: November 02, 2015, 12:38:18 PM »
I'll join the chorus of "it depends".

Compared to the local norm, 1/2 hr commute may not be bad.  The face-to-face interaction in the office may be worth it (easier collaboration, people find it harder to be a jerk to your face, social aspect.)  Plus, if it means you can mostly leave work at the office it may save you time, overall.

If telecommuting gives you a lot of flexibility, that may be ideal when raising young kids.  It has been a lifesaver for our family.

Does the interesting job give you better opportunities for advancement?  Is the boring job secure and stable?  Can you handle boredom for the benefit of the bigger picture (pay, benefits, and telecommuting being better for you and family)?  How big is the benefits and pay gap?  Does the exciting job still pay enough to live on and save?

I'm glad to hear you have good choices.  It's a nice problem to have. :)

jeromedawg

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 2931
  • Location: Orange County, CA
Re: Hypothetical - deciding between two jobs...benefits vs interesting work
« Reply #8 on: November 02, 2015, 12:42:35 PM »
Trying to evaluate these two against each other without context is kind of futile.  It entirely depends on where you are in life.

For example if you are just starting out your career then the new tech and commute might trump the telecommuting and higher pay.  Being part of a co-located team, for the most part, should be more beneficial to your career and pay in the long-term.  However, if you are already a senior and can do the job while watching cat videos in you PJs well then the higher pay and no commute would probably outweigh the benefits of being in the office for face time and career growth.

What are your goals?  How long to you think you'll be working?  As someone else already pointed out how is you self discipline, can you do the boring work if no one is looking over your shoulders?

Good points. Well, we just had a baby and my wife is planning to go sahm so stability and flexibility seem to be the biggest priorities. The less exciting job with likely higher pay and better benefits is with a large financial institution whereas the more fast-paced job which may not pay as much is a division of a larger tech company. Also my old coworker now at the more exciting place says they did allow work from home till too many ppl started abusing it and now they've taken it away except for extreme circumstances.

I've never done 100% telecommute but I can see how it could be distracting. I don't think I'd have much trouble getting things done though.

Of course, no offers at this point and I still have to interview with the "more exciting" company tmrw but just figured I'd pose the question for my own reference and maybe to help others who are currently in such  dilemma.

The interview with the financial institution went OK I think. They said there are a couple more candidates they wanted to talk to before deciding though
« Last Edit: November 02, 2015, 12:46:35 PM by jplee3 »

jeromedawg

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 2931
  • Location: Orange County, CA
Re: Hypothetical - deciding between two jobs...benefits vs interesting work
« Reply #9 on: November 02, 2015, 01:18:51 PM »
I'll join the chorus of "it depends".

Compared to the local norm, 1/2 hr commute may not be bad.  The face-to-face interaction in the office may be worth it (easier collaboration, people find it harder to be a jerk to your face, social aspect.)  Plus, if it means you can mostly leave work at the office it may save you time, overall.

If telecommuting gives you a lot of flexibility, that may be ideal when raising young kids.  It has been a lifesaver for our family.

Does the interesting job give you better opportunities for advancement?  Is the boring job secure and stable?  Can you handle boredom for the benefit of the bigger picture (pay, benefits, and telecommuting being better for you and family)?  How big is the benefits and pay gap?  Does the exciting job still pay enough to live on and save?

I'm glad to hear you have good choices.  It's a nice problem to have. :)

Well, no offers yet to make a choice, hence the " hypothetical" haha.

The 'exciting' place is actually more of a commute than my current place, so I also wouldn't look forward to that. There are probably carpool opps but those always create codependencies like if I want to go in earlier etc. Face time is somewhat important to me but I'm relatively comfortable on the phone and chat too

Not sure about advancement opps at either place. The reason the position opened at the exciting place is cause the guy who was in the position before left for a better opportunity elsewhere. that tends to be the flow with cutting edge tech companies though. Esp if you want a better chance at an in with Facebook, Google, netflix, etc.... It would be cool but I think it would be super busy and super challenging. Not bad things but like you said depends on lifestage

I could prob be OK with boring, stable and secure either way.

ShoulderThingThatGoesUp

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3057
  • Location: Emmaus, PA
Re: Hypothetical - deciding between two jobs...benefits vs interesting work
« Reply #10 on: November 02, 2015, 03:16:24 PM »
Telecommuting with a SAH spouse caring for a baby is extremely helpful to everyone involved. I get to see my daughter at lunch and my wife gets s break and adult conversation.

JLee

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 5626
Re: Hypothetical - deciding between two jobs...benefits vs interesting work
« Reply #11 on: November 02, 2015, 03:26:42 PM »
Telecommuting generally means you can work from anywhere, which generally means you can live anywhere, or travel while working...that has huge value to me.

jeromedawg

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 2931
  • Location: Orange County, CA
Re: Hypothetical - deciding between two jobs...benefits vs interesting work
« Reply #12 on: November 02, 2015, 03:32:40 PM »
Yea telecommuting seems like a great boon.... I hope to hear back on that one at least. I feel like the competition might be tough but am still hopeful.

Kitsune

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1837
Re: Hypothetical - deciding between two jobs...benefits vs interesting work
« Reply #13 on: November 02, 2015, 05:25:01 PM »
Telecommuting with a SAH spouse caring for a baby is extremely helpful to everyone involved. I get to see my daughter at lunch and my wife gets s break and adult conversation.

Caveat - it works IF you have a separate space and a spouse who understands that you are WORKING and can't be called upon every half-hour.

AKA: the reason I have an office with a door that closes, in the basement, instead of working from the main floor of the house while my husband is with our daughter. If she sees me, work ain't gonna happen.

jeromedawg

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 2931
  • Location: Orange County, CA
Re: Hypothetical - deciding between two jobs...benefits vs interesting work
« Reply #14 on: November 02, 2015, 08:21:31 PM »
Telecommuting with a SAH spouse caring for a baby is extremely helpful to everyone involved. I get to see my daughter at lunch and my wife gets s break and adult conversation.

Caveat - it works IF you have a separate space and a spouse who understands that you are WORKING and can't be called upon every half-hour.

AKA: the reason I have an office with a door that closes, in the basement, instead of working from the main floor of the house while my husband is with our daughter. If she sees me, work ain't gonna happen.

Yea that might be a bit of a challenge and adjustment but it's doable. We have a den/office/bedroom in our place that is currently a baby storage room more than anything haha. I had built a desk into where the space for the closet was for my last job, which required me to work from home but during off hours (early morning and late nights sometimes). I got used to that and it wasn't too bad...then again that was without a kid. My wife would be pretty understanding about the situation though and would definitely try to stay out of my hair.

ShoulderThingThatGoesUp

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3057
  • Location: Emmaus, PA
Re: Hypothetical - deciding between two jobs...benefits vs interesting work
« Reply #15 on: November 03, 2015, 05:28:10 AM »
Yes, having a separate and close-able office area is critical, both to create separation during the day (if I don't have my door closed my daughter will come in and want to sit on my lap and "work" which means mashing the keyboard) and to create separation on weekends and off hours - I don't think about work after I turn off the light in the "office". As we look towards trying for a baby in about a year we're considering finishing a second-story porch to create a non-bedroom office for me for these reasons.

rockstache

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 5859
  • Age: 2015
  • Location: Northeast
Re: Hypothetical - deciding between two jobs...benefits vs interesting work
« Reply #16 on: November 03, 2015, 07:48:49 AM »
Personally I would choose pay/benefits every time. Work from home would be a huge bonus to me as well. I don't work because it's exciting, I work so I can pay the bills and stash the accounts. The quicker that happens for me, the better.

Schaefer Light

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1197
Re: Hypothetical - deciding between two jobs...benefits vs interesting work
« Reply #17 on: November 03, 2015, 12:47:34 PM »
Benefits and pay tend to hang around... excitement tends to taper off. After two months, that "exciting job" has transformed to just a "job."

And commuting has a cost, so telecommute vs drive time means that the "exciting" job has to be my lifelong boyhood dream job before I want to take $10k less and be stuck in a car for 250 hours a year...
This is pretty much how I look at it.  Give me the high pay boring job over the low pay "exciting" job.  The only reason I'd reconsider this stance would be if the lower paying job allowed me to work remotely.

StetsTerhune

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 451
Re: Hypothetical - deciding between two jobs...benefits vs interesting work
« Reply #18 on: November 03, 2015, 01:01:26 PM »
I've been promised "interesting work" every time I've changed jobs. Very rarely does it actually work out that way long term.  Some jobs are better than others, but it's pretty hard to know much before you actually are doing a job. The vast majority of most jobs is random crap that's not in any job description and is never gonna get described by the hiring manager.

On the other hand, if you're promised a specific salary and benefits, that's what you're almost certainly going to get.

So I'd go with the benefits in this hypothetical. A bird in hand is worth two in the bush.

rmendpara

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 602
Re: Hypothetical - deciding between two jobs...benefits vs interesting work
« Reply #19 on: November 03, 2015, 01:31:41 PM »
"Interesting work" can be a risk as your interest is likely to change over time. Unless you just LOVE personal computing and want to stay in the field forever, remember that there are many many jobs even within Dell that are quite distant from the actual making of computers.

My point is a bit generic, but just make sure it's something that YOU truly feel is interesting or a mission that you truly believe in and wish to support. I have yet to ever hear in an interview from a hiring manager (or anyone else at the company) that their work was NOT interesting...

Interest varies by person, and so do the qualities you look for in a job. There are trade offs, and you have to make the best overall decision (considering pay and lifestyle factors) that fits your goals.

AZDude

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1298
Re: Hypothetical - deciding between two jobs...benefits vs interesting work
« Reply #20 on: November 03, 2015, 02:22:02 PM »
Faced with almost this exact dilemma today. Stay at current job, where the work and environment is horrifying, or leave for a job that pays substantially  less but it much closer to home and sounds more interesting(plus I finally get my own office. A real office with a door and everything). I am taking option B.


Schaefer Light

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1197
Re: Hypothetical - deciding between two jobs...benefits vs interesting work
« Reply #21 on: November 03, 2015, 02:52:36 PM »
The vast majority of most jobs is random crap that's not in any job description and is never gonna get described by the hiring manager.
Very true.

jeromedawg

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 2931
  • Location: Orange County, CA
Re: Hypothetical - deciding between two jobs...benefits vs interesting work
« Reply #22 on: November 03, 2015, 09:53:21 PM »
So I should clarify my "interesting work" description and mention that I meant more so that it would be a place where I gain tons of experience compared to the 100% telecommute position. I interviewed today actually and it went well, except the last guy I interviewed with (a director) completely drilled me and made me look foolish for a couple line items I put on my resume :( Overall I felt the interviews were mostly positive though... it was a 4hr long interview so I'm shot. As far as the company though, they are fast-paced and doing a lot of cutting edge stuff with technology, and it really does seem like I'd have several mentors there who I could learn quite a bit from. Work culture seems great and asking my old coworker about remote work, he said the manager I'd be working under (who he's also under) is pretty good about allowing work from home but you have to notify them and you can't be abusing it too much and "working from home" 3 times a week and letting the manager know the morning of. Apparently there were some that were doing this and it resulted in them being a little more stringent about the policy. It actually doesn't seem that bad compared to where I'm working at now in terms of them being flexible to WFH.

The commute would be extended out by 10-20 minutes for me depending on traffic and over twice the mileage (from 8mi round trip to about 22mi round trip). Right now my commute ranges from 15-30 minutes or so which is pretty good.

The other thing about this position, which is why I think it would probably pay less, is that it's more an entry-to-mid level position for the field I'd be getting back into more of (security). Right now I'm in a senior QA position and if I went with the large financial institution (which I think would pay more and has better benefits plus telecommute), I'd sorta 'maintain' that higher level status... of course, at the expensive of not really being able to capitalize on growing my security skill set.  It's weird though because the position there is as a infosec engineer but it really is just a QA engineer for their security-centric applications, which is similar to what I do now... I wanted to get more back into the overall security engineering picture and especially more into pentesting.

Granted, all this is hypothetical still. I just interviewed with the large financial institution last week and with the smaller division of a tech company today, so I don't think I'd hear back from either place in less than a week or two. I actually have one more place I've been waiting for a reply back from  - this would be more in a security generalist role but at probably a senior level... I interviewed almost a month ago and haven't heard back but I understand they're pretty busy with things there (brand new IT/dev group and they've hit the ground running). Sounds like this third place is super-busy and somewhat demanding of time. They are the same commute as my current job and when I put my asking salary out they seemed to be shocked I would ask for so much lol.
« Last Edit: November 03, 2015, 09:58:17 PM by jplee3 »

jeromedawg

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 2931
  • Location: Orange County, CA
Re: Hypothetical - deciding between two jobs...benefits vs interesting work
« Reply #23 on: November 12, 2015, 06:21:06 PM »
Here's another way of phrasing the question:

Would you rather be in a position that initially pays a good amount and where you have the "title" but where you're somewhat pigeon-holed? Or would you take a position that doesn't pay as well and where you don't have that "title" exactly but you're not pigeon-holed and have "freedom" to work on things that interest you and advance your career?

I'm sure a lot of this is dependent on what your career goals actually are and how you answer the question "where do you see yourself 3-5+ years from now?"