Difficult Choices

 
“It’s not hard to make decisions
when you know what your values are.”

– Roy E. Disney

NOTE: This is Part 2 of 2 of this Newsletter. We have divided it in half due to its considerable length, befitting its importance to so many employees. Last week we presented Elements of Job Opportunity Comparison 1 through 9; This week we present Elements of Job Opportunity Comparison 10 through 18. (Click here if you want to review our First Installment before reviewing this one.)

ACTUAL CASE HISTORY: Danielle, a senior marketing executive, was quite unhappy in her job. Her employer’s management was extremely dysfunctional. Sales were soft for many reasons, and, of course, much of it was blamed on her and her team. With 21 years experience, she knew her team was running on all cylinders, but even great marketing can’t undo an outdated product, an insufficient marketing budget, and almost daily interference with marketing decisions imposed by the CEO’s wife.

Without her reaching out, she was contacted by a recruiter with a very intriguing opportunity, with (a) better salary, (b) but lower bonus opportunity, (c) greater retirement benefits, but (d) later retirement age, (e) a new, exciting product line to market, but (f) a small marketing budget that gave her limited discretion. The position also came with a three year contract, but it required relocation to a city she’d never before even visited. A confusing list of advantages and disadvantages, positives and negatives.

To say it was a hard choice to make would be an understatement. Danielle knew the positives and negatives of her “bird in the hand,” but didn’t know what she would experience with the “two in the bush.”

Working with Danielle was one of my favorite client experiences. It involved first identifying, and then weighing, her personal values, career planning, life goals and difficult choices.

In the end, she made the move to the new job, and fortunately has never looked back. In hindsight, it was surely the better choice, but as they say, “Hindsight is 20-20 vision; the harder ‘sight’ is ‘insight.’”

These days many people face this dilemma, as company after company seeks to improve its human capital, expand, or just “see what is out there.” If you are in this situation, or if you receive two job offers, the decision between or among your available job opportunities might be a difficult one. Even if you find the decision an easy one to make . . . are you sure you considered all of the factors that are wise to take into account?

LESSON TO LEARN: Depending on your personal preferences, brand and skillset, as well as whether we are in “good” or “bad” economic times, it may seem that job opportunities are depressingly scarce or wonderfully abundant. Whether job opportunities are scarce or abundant, employees often have occasion to decide between (i) leaving their jobs for other offered positions, or (ii) making a choice between two or more new positions offered to them at one time. It is common that comparison of two jobs, or two job offers, can be a difficult thing to do. It is often an “apples vs. oranges” comparison, and can get quite confusing. And, so, we offer you the same list that we offer our clients to make these difficult “apples vs. oranges” comparisons.

The list we offer below has another, somewhat unintended, advantage: It may remind you of one or more job opportunity components of comparison that you had simply not even thought about. Like a checklist of sorts, it may bring to the surface of your consciousness something that had been lurking in your mind, heart and soul, that had not yet come to the surface of your awareness.

For those facing the need to make a choice between “take this job or take that one,” below is what our clients have found to be the most important elements needed to compare, and a simple way of doing so. It is not scientific, it is not foolproof, but most of my clients who have used it reported back to me that it was extremely helpful. Hopefully, it will be for you, as well.

WHAT YOU CAN DO: When you need to compare two or more employment opportunities – whether it’s a choice between two different offers, or remaining in your present job, or accepting a new offer – you need to make your decision wisely, prudently and carefully. For that reason below we present these common elements of job opportunity comparison as a “tried-and-true” method of doing so.

Depending on your values, one of these elements of comparison may be of no consequence to you, while to another person making a similar comparison, that person may consider it the #1 determinant of his or her decision. It all depends on what is important to you.

This exercise is also of real value in helping you see which elements of each job opportunity you may raise in another round of negotiation. And, too, this exercise may show you that you need additional information before making a decision. Incidentally, please do not think that our order of presenting the following elements of job offer comparison reflects what we believe are the most important ones; it does not. What is important to you is all that counts.

Please also don’t expect perfection or precision in this process. Scores of, say, 52 versus 55, will not likely mean much. On the other hand, if your overall scoring for different job opportunities yields a 79 for “Job A,” versus a 12 for “Job B,” you have a clear indication that something is telling you “Get out of your fog, open up your eyes to what the numbers are telling you, and don’t look back.”

To begin, simply (1) print out this article, (2) in the left-side margin, enter your scores for each element of “Job A,” and (3) in the right-side margin, enter your scores for each element of “Job B.” (4) Then tally them up. Consider trying this exercise more than once; practice only improves your precision:

10. Role and Function: Do you like selling to prospective customers and clients, or do you prefer strategizing? Job A might be primarily a sales job, and Job B might be primarily a strategy role. Do you prefer managing others, or is working by yourself and avoiding the headaches of managing others more appealing to you? Job A might entail your working primarily by yourself, while Job B might involve your spending most of your time managing others. Role and function are very, very important job comparison elements.

This particular element of job and job offer comparison is an essential one to consider, as chances are you will not do very good work, or be successful, or be creative, in doing a job you don’t enjoy.

In the margins of this page, give Role and Function of Job A and Job B their respective scores, and be particularly introspective in doing so.

11. Term of Years, or “At Will?” This element is nothing more or less than a comparison of relative job security. An agreed “Term of Years” is a mutual commitment to employment for a specified period of time, for example, two years. “At-Will,” to the contrary, generally means the employment could only last one moment. Significantly, “at-will” employment can be terminated even before it starts, with no remedy for the employee who may have given up his or her last job, without recourse or remedy.

One might think that all employees would prefer to have a commitment from their employer for some term of years. That is generally true, but there are times, for example when the employee is waiting for a different position to open elsewhere, when he or she would be entirely free to leave at any time from the new job, even at times without prior notice.

That said, generally speaking, most employees look positively on the comfort and security of knowing that they do, indeed, have a job for one, two or more years, and so prefer to have a “time commitment” or “term of years” in a job offer.

On a scale of –5 points to +5 points, assign to your “scorecard” in the appropriate margin how you view employment for Term of Years or being At-Will for one or both of the job opportunities you are comparing. On this basis, might Job A be a +4 in this regard, while Job B be a –1?

BACKGROUND CHECK COMING UP? Do you have an “Indiscretion” or “Very Personal Issue” that might come up? We offer a Model Letter to SHARE A “VERY PERSONAL ISSUE” to explain it, and seek its acceptance, in pre-emptive fashion. No one is perfect, and no one’s life history is perfect, either. Explain it the right way. What to Say, and How to Say It.™ To obtain your copy, [click here.] Delivered by Email – Instantly!

12. Passion, Purpose and Meaning: This element of job offer comparison is, to some people contrite, while to other people at the core of their considerations. To some people, engaging in daily work that adds purpose and meaning to their lives is more important than any other aspect of a job. To others, it means nothing whatsoever. There is little to describe or add here: you know if this is important to you, or if it is not. Quite simple.

I will note the observation that “follow your passion” is something that many people advise young people, while “pursue your purpose” is something many coach people who are in their 40’s, 50’s or older. The distinction perhaps reflects that what is important in life often changes with time.

Does a job opportunity’s having Passion, Purpose and Meaning mean much to you? Is it worth one, two or three, plus or minus, on your scale of what’s important to you? Just give it some thought, and then give it a score, if you wish to.

13. Are You Intended to be a “Change Agent” or “Pioneer?” This is an element of job opportunity comparison that may or may not be positive to you, or even have any meaning at all. Some people like the challenge of “fixing things,” or turning them around, from “broken” to “fixed.” These positions can, thus, be exhilarating. They can, as well, be extremely risky, as those whose job it is to change the “status quo” can step on toes, interrupt plans, or challenge informal authority and power without knowing it, until they are in “hot soup” or even out of a job.

Having a clear and sufficient mandate from those with great authority – and having that mandate made clear to all before you arrive – is essential for the job security of “change agents” and “pioneers.” Having, too, a sufficient “parachute” in case of great workplace “turbulence” or even a “crash landing” is important. Being a change agent or pioneer is the best for some, and the worst for others. And still others have just not given it a thought. You should do so.

On a scale of –5 points to +5 points, assign to your “scorecard” how you view being a Change Agent or Pioneer for one or both of the job opportunities you are comparing in the appropriate “Job A” or “Job B” margin.

14. Company Culture: Bullying, harassing, discriminatory practices, even dishonesty permitted or condoned by management may be rare or they may permeate the corporate cultures of the employers you are considering. Likewise, dysfunction may be prevalent in the daily work life at one or both. Alternatively, an employer may devote a great deal of effort and time to maintaining a company culture of universal respect, and an appreciation of diversity and diverse views.

While some websites, such as GlassDoor.com, suggest they have devised a way to measure the corporate culture of an entire company, frankly speaking, I have my doubts. It’s like saying that an entire neighborhood is mean-spirited, when it may be the case that, in a quiet, unassuming way, people do kind things for each other every day, unannounced and unknown to all, with little or no fanfare.

That said, speaking directly with person employed, or previously employed, at one or the other of your potential job offerors about the generalized “culture” cannot hurt in any way, so long as you limit the degree to which you depend on what you hear.

On a scale of –5 points to +5 points, assign to your “scorecard” how you view Company Culture for one or both of your job opportunities you are comparing. I would limit the degree to which you depend on this particular element of comparison, but that is my personal view, and my personal view only.

15. Retirement Benefits: This is an important element of comparison of job opportunities for almost everyone. It is a matter of seeming daily concern for many employees.

A healthy measure of due diligence is thus necessary to make a fair evaluation on this component of comparison. Each of (a) the amount of benefits, (b) the length of time, if any, that is required for vesting, (c) the degree of employer contribution, if any, (d) the relative ease or difficulty of portability, and (e) the investment choices available to employees, and other aspects, would be wise to examine.

Remember to “score” the element of Retirement Benefits of each of your jobs or job offers under comparison on the suggested scale of –5 points to +5 points, or in between, in the left-side margin for “Job A,” and in the right-side margin for “Job B.”

16. Internal Growth Opportunities: Does one or the other company have a strong policy of “hiring from within?” Are the companies and their respective industries in growth phases? Is “Employer A” one in which it seems that every manager has been in his or her job 20 years or more? If so, don’t expect to be a “shooting star.”

However, if internal advancement and an identifiable internal pathway is how things go in one or the other company, that is good . . . presuming, of course, that this component is at all valuable to you.

Does a job offer seem to present to you likely Internal Growth Opportunities? If so, how much is that important to you? And how does it compare with the Internal Growth Opportunities available to you from the other opportunity you have, on your scale of what’s important to you?

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17. External Career Upside? Many clients have expressed to me such things as “If I can only get into Amazon, or Netflix, I will gain sufficient credibility to go wherever else I want after that,” or words to that effect. I’ve heard similar sentiments about Goldman Sachs, the New York Times and the Mayo Clinic. Yes, there are a good number of what I refer to as “Career Catapulting Companies.”

The same may go for certain other employers without such prestige, but with significant industry cache, such as high-tech start ups, biotech and biopharma firms with recent venture funding, new blockchain–based services, and – at the moment – cryptocurrency exchanges.

And, too, if you are something of a newcomer in your industry or sector of choice, the simple ability to “meet and learn” from a wide variety of interactions may be the very most valuable thing one job may offer over another.

Elements of jobs and job offers may hold different levels of External Career Upside to you. Use our “+5 to –5” scoring method to evaluate the jobs or job offers you have, and don’t forget to record your score.

18. Work at Home Possible? While it means nothing to some employees, the ability to work from home part-time (or more) is worth a WHOLE LOT to some. This may also be due to family circumstances, health concerns and/or physical disabilities.

At times, on cold, windy, snowy days I share with a successful client that I am speaking with him or her (a) from my family room, (b) with the fireplace crackling, (c) in my comfy clothes, (d) wearing my slippers, (e) with my dog by my side, (f) holding a cup of fresh brewed coffee, (g) occasionally gazing over the manly trees of all sizes and shapes in my yard, (h) that are covered with a new coat of pure white snow, my client pauses, and then tells me “I want your job.” While it is not every day, it is as often as I can make it that way, and it is a +25 on my own scale of job preferences and benefits.

By now, you surely know what to do: determine whether work occasional, part-time or even primarily working from home might be available to you, and if so, score it on our +5 to –5 basis in the appropriate side margin.

We offer a Model Memo Requesting Telecommuting or Flextime for your adaption to your own facts and circumstances. It shows you “What to Say, and How to Say It.™” To get a copy, just [click here.] Delivered instantly by email to your printer.

Just a Reminder: The List Above is Not Exhaustive – You Should Add Other Elements that May be Important to You. Like everything on this blogsite, it is of note, interest, insight and value to you only to the extent it is applicable, directly or indirectly, to you. If a different workplace item or circumstance is of unusual, uncommon or even unique value to you, of course you should not hesitate to add it to your list of “Components of Comparison” of two or more job opportunities, alongside each of the others, from the list above, that are of great value – little value, or no value – to you.

Example: If Job A provides a great, free Daycare Center right on the office premises, and you have a two-year-old and a four-year-old, and Job B does not, that alone might be a game-changer for you.

The important thing to remember is this: careful, prudent, mindful comparison of job opportunities is in your interests, always and forever. More and better data that goes “into” your job offer comparison, the better will be the decision that comes “out” of your comparison efforts. That is beyond argument, universal, always and forever, and within your control. I’ve provided the framework and method. Now, it’s just a matter of your just “doing it.”

Received a Job Offer? Act like a pro – Get it improved! Use our Model Response to Offer Letter; Seeking Improvements. It shows you “What to Say, and How to Say It.™” To obtain a copy for your use, just [click here.] Delivered by Email – Instantly!

REMINDER: This is Installment Two of this Newsletter. Elements of Job Opportunity Comparison 1 through 9 were published last week. If you wish to review Elements of Job or Job Offer Comparison 1 through 9 just [click here.]

In Summary . . . (Part 2 of 2)

Do you have a job and another one offered to you? Perhaps you are in a job search, and have simultaneously received two job offers at the same, or almost the same, time. Or perhaps you are working at one job now, but applying for a job to see if you might be considered? In any of these circumstances you may find yourself confused as to how to decide between two job opportunities. We suggest you try to “clear the fog” in your mind with our “–5 to +5” method. It can help ensure you consider the key elements most people consider, and others, and also help you decide among them which is most important to you. It also might help you in requesting suggested modifications for an offer letter you may have received. The small effort is surely worth ten times itself in terms of your making the most mindful and meaningful decision you can make.

P.S.: If you would like to speak directly about this or other subjects, Mr. Sklover is available for 30-minute, 60-minute, or 120-minute telephone consultations, just [click here.] Evenings and weekends can often be accommodated.

SkloverWorkingWisdom™ emphasizes smart negotiating – and navigating – for yourself at work. Negotiation and navigation of work and career issues requires that you think “out of the box,” and build value and avoid risks at every point in your career. We strive to help you understand what is commonly before you – traps and pitfalls, included – and to avoid the likely bumps in the road. For those with two or more jobs or job offers in front of you, and having difficulty deciding among them, this method may help you make your decision, and then navigating and negotiating to your very best success.

Always be proactive. Always be creative. Always be persistent. Always be vigilant. And always do what you can to achieve for yourself, your family, and your career. Take all available steps to increase and secure employment “rewards” and eliminate or reduce employment “risks.” That’s what SkloverWorkingWisdom™ is all about.

*A note about our Actual Case Histories: In order to preserve client confidences, and protect client identities, we alter certain facts, including the name, age, gender, position, date, geographical location, and industry of our clients. The essential facts, the point illustrated and the lesson to be learned, remain actual.

Please Note: This Email Newsletter is not legal advice, but only an effort to provide generalized information about important topics related to employment and the law. Legal advice can only be rendered after formal retention of counsel, and must take into account the facts and circumstances of a particular case. Those in need of legal advice, counsel or representation should retain competent legal counsel licensed to practice law in their locale.

Sklover Working Wisdom™ is a trademarked newsletter publication of Alan L. Sklover, of Sklover & Company, LLC, a law firm dedicated to the counsel and representation of employees in matters of their employment, compensation and severance. Nothing expressed in this material constitutes legal advice. Please note that Mr. Sklover is admitted to practice in the state of New York, only. When assisting clients in other jurisdictions, he retains the assistance of local counsel and/or obtains permission of local Courts to appear. Copying, use and/or reproduction of this material in any form or media without prior written permission is strictly prohibited. All rights reserved. For further information, contact Sklover & Company, LLC, 45 Rockefeller Plaza, Suite 2000, New York, New York 10111 (212) 757-5000.

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