Nothing Special, Really

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Should I Stay Or Should I Go?

I don't want to be a grown up today.

I have been negotiating with my current employer about a position to remain with the company. It would be a manager position, although it wouldn't be the type of manager that I'd prefer.

They originally offered me the position with a small increase beyond my current salary, on the grounds that it was a comparable position to my current one.

I asked for more on the grounds that, although the functions are comparable, the responsibility is greater.

They came back with more money today. They are still holding firm on the "no retention bonus" but they at least gave me that.

Between my merit increase I received earlier this year and the new salary, my compensation will increase 25% from what it was at the start of the year.

And yet I'm leaning towards declining. Am I insane?


I was forced into this position of having to look for a new job since my company decided to shut down our divisional headquarters. I wasn't anticipating having to do this now. Maybe a year from now, but not this soon.

My company is offering me a severance package as part of the termination. A very generous one, compared to what other companies have done. If I so choose, I could live jobless, and still maintain health benefits, until the end of July.

As soon as the announcement was made, the thought of a "Summer of Matt" entered my mind. Finally, I could become the slacker I've always wanted to be. I've backed off from that desire (although a "Month of Matt" is a definite possibility in May), realizing that the best case scenario would be to find a job elsewhere that A) puts me on the career path I want to be on and B) allows me to pocket the severance package.

Accepting this position would not get me either of those, but instead, it would A) puts me into a manager position that doesn't steer very far from the path I want to be on and B) gives me a higher salary than what I am making or would most likely make with another company.


So what's most important to me?

Salary: I rejected the initial offer to stay with the company because, even though I would receive an increase, it was still too low. First, it would mean rejecting the severance package, and I wouldn't be able to recoup in compensation for about 2 years. Secondly, and the bigger reason, is that I didn't want to pigeonhole myself into an manager position at so low of a salary. Even though it would be my first manager position, a salary that low would have effects on future compensation as well. The new offer is considerably more & would satisfy the concerns I had about the initial offer. I doubt that I will receive a comparable salary with another company.

Career Path: I am at a stage in my career where I want to be in a managerial position within 2-4 years. This position would give me the managerial title, but it is managing the more operational side of Human Resources. My preference is to move to a more strategic position rather than operational. I am also very interested in gaining experience outside of the retail industry. I have been with my company for almost 12 years now, which is practically unheard of for someone who is not even 30 (I can still claim this for 4 more months). I don't anticipate staying with the company for another 12 years, and this is a great opportunity to move into HR within another industry. This position is also very similar to what I am currently doing, and I would not be opposed to accepting a position elsewhere that wasn't managerial but allowed me to gain experience in other areas of HR.

Severance: The value of the severance package decreases each week I don't have a job. I maximize the value by finding a job as soon as possible, yet the job search process hasn't looked very promising lately. I do have a short phone interview later today with another company for a position that is not as desirable as the position with my current employer, but it is a job that I will probably be a top candidate for, and would allow me to maximize the value of my severance package.

Time Off: When I found out I was laid off, I immediately started making travel plans for May, including a trip to Vegas. The Vegas trip is still on but the rest of my plans are dependent upon my job status. I confirmed that if I stay I can still take off a week for other plans that I had, but I don't know about the rest.

Really, a better question is: what's more important, the short-term benefit of severance or the long term benefit of job security? Is it crazy to pass up a promotional opportunity, considering the state of the economy & employment these days, to take a chance in the job market and hope to find another opportunity soon? Or, is it worth it accept a position on the grounds of job security if I suspect that I might not find the satisfaction & enjoyment in the job that I am currently lacking?

I guess there's a lot of questions to answer.


I'm leaning towards declining the offer, and here's why:

I don't believe the best case scenario of finding the right job for me & being able to pocket the severance has passed me by just yet. I thought it was going to when I wrote this post the other week. I was afraid I was going to have to make a decision on my company's job offer without knowing whether or not I was being considered for the other opportunity, which would have been the perfect opportunity (I ended up not being interviewed).

Declining the offer with my current company doesn't necessarily mean that I can't be reconsidered for it at a later date. I've established a good rapport with the team members and I believe that I would be welcomed into the position if I wanted to come back. Furthermore, I know that the position's supervisor will be out of the office for a good portion of next month, so it's very possible that the job may be open for a while. Of course that's no certainty, and if I come back before my severance period runs out I have to pay back the difference.

I may find out that there isn't a better opportunity for me out there. I may come crawling back in a month or two, or I may take another job and be just as unhappy with that. I may not find a job until the middle of June & have to live off more of my severance than I would like to.

But the one thing I'm having trouble getting past is that, if I accept this job, I'll never know that.

Is the grass really greener on the other side? Is it worth it to find out?

I'll let you know tomorrow.


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