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Got the offer, but...
Old 03-18-2005, 10:53 AM   #1
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Got the offer, but...

OK, so I got the job offer I was waiting for, but its a bit different from what I was hoping for. Benefits appear reasonable, generous even (fully company paid LTD, medical, dental), access to a SARSEP (no company match, though). No vacation policy ("as long as it is reasonable its OK"), although the three principals typically take 3 or 4 weeks and this was indicated to be acceptable. Since the commute will be ugly, they have agreed to the hours I need (early in, early out). They even pay for parking.

Here's the rub:

I was really hoping for a big bump in base salary. Unfortunately, they offered roughly flat with what I am getting now, which I could live on (obviously). The big increase is in bonus. Right now, I get a piddling little bonus equal to roughly 10% of my base (no guarantees, obviously). The offer includes a share of a potentially rich bonus pool. In a lousy year, they guesstimate bonuses would be about 50% of base. In a good year (like last year), it would be "multiples" of base (would have been 3 or 4 times base last year).

I would love to negotiate for a higher base, but the three principals live with the same base, and the cost structure of this small company (asset manager) cannot tolerate a lot of fixed costs. I indicated that I was hoping for a higher base, but that maybe we could work something out, like a signing bonus.

I can live on the base offered, although it is not exactly what I had in mind. However, it means that I have a lot of "skin in the game". This is a small company, so there is a lot of flexibility and freedom, but also more volatility. I believe that I will succeed as a valued employee there, and their business and future plans seem rational and likely to succeed, so I think it will work, but I really need to decide how much risk I can take.

Ultimately, it is a far better deal than I have now, and comp is probably at least equal to what I could get elsewhere. I think it is likely we will come to terms and I will accept, but I don't make big decisions quickly. Any thoughts?
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Re: Got the offer, but...
Old 03-18-2005, 11:58 AM   #2
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Re: Got the offer, but...

How solid is the company? In other words, do you have a reasonable expectation of making the bonuses?

I ask because I tried exactly the same thing once. Cool new company, guys running it had been very successful before and were trying out a new consulting thing. Long drive to the office but I could work from home a few days a week. Sporadic work - go like hell a couple of weeks, not much for a couple of weeks.

Bottom line is we never got the big bonus. After a couple of months they had to stop paying salaries for a while. Then I moved on.

It wasnt a bad summer. I had a lot of free time. Little bit of money coming in. Some cool travel.

Probably not something you'd have enjoyed though, income-wise.
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Re: Got the offer, but...
Old 03-18-2005, 12:25 PM   #3
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Re: Got the offer, but...

The company has been running successfully since 1994. The last time they had a bad year WRT the bonus pool was 1998, and that was only because LTCM blew up and very nearly took the financial system with it. My impression is that this is not a flash-in-the-pan. They are aggressively expanding with two new products, but the products are an extension of what they already do (successfully) and this is a VERY high margin industry (hedge fund).

If they blow up, I can financially handle it. I plan on banking as cash any signing bonus, and the first year's bonus (whatever it might be) would be conservatively invested. I already have roughly 3 years' worth of expenses in after tax accounts, CDs, etc. and have a HELOC in place for another year and change worth of expenses.

I have worked the safe, steady job for years and I think I am ready to go hunting for big game. Just gotta be able to sleep at night, too.
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Re: Got the offer, but...
Old 03-18-2005, 01:08 PM   #4
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Re: Got the offer, but...

Quote:
If they blow up, I can financially handle it. *I plan on banking as cash any signing bonus, and the first year's bonus (whatever it might be) would be conservatively invested. *I already have roughly 3 years' worth of expenses in after tax accounts, CDs, etc. and have a HELOC in place for another year and change worth of expenses.

I have worked the safe, steady job for years and I think I am ready to go hunting for big game. *Just gotta be able to sleep at night, too.
Here's my take:
You have quite a cushion available to you and you say that you are ready to "hunt big game". What I think it really boils down to is: how well do you know yourself? Are you truly a risk-taker?

I think in our culture we push people to take risks. But, some people just are not "wired" to handle that kind of uncertainty - regardless of the cushion they have. And regardless of what the culture "says", it's ok to not be a risk-taker. You have to do what is best for you otherwise you will be miserable. Financial reward cannot make up for the stress and unhappiness if you are a "square" trying to fit yourself into a "round" hole.

If you can honestly say that you want to "hunt the big game" then take the job with, say a 1-1/2 year "trial" period. After a year and a half, you will see how the company is going, did you get a bonus and how big, how much you are working, etc. You would still have a 1-1/2 year cushion if things go south.

My dad once tried to open his own business. He worked long hours and ultimately when it failed, it took a sizeable chunk of the family assets. While he wishes that the experience didn't "cost" as much as it did, he was glad he took his chances. He said it also taught him a lot about himself, what he wanted and what he values.

Don't look at this opportunity as only a "financial" one. Look at it as an exploration of your ability to be "on the edge" and whether you thrive or struggle in such an atmosphere.

Just my three cents.
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Re: Got the offer, but...
Old 03-18-2005, 03:56 PM   #5
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Re: Got the offer, but...

You have been so unhappy in your last job, what is to lose?

The commute would turn me off, but I live five minutes from work.

I have not increased by "base" salary since I became a shareholder and recently dropped it. Actually, I grew to like the smaller base pay because it helped me live below my means. Of course, my business has been around a hundred plus years, so I have never had the issue of will my job be there at bonus time.
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Re: Got the offer, but...
Old 03-19-2005, 03:16 PM   #6
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Re: Got the offer, but...

The commute would kill the deal for me (or my husband, who hates driving even more than I do). But if I didn't consider that, the one thing that caught my eye is the vacation policy. If I were you, and I took the job, I would get the amount of vacation that you want *in writing* in your contract. Time off is a lifeline and I, personally, would not want to depend on a vague sense of what's OK. Way too many things can go wrong with that, from nagging guilt ("is it *really* OK?") to change of management.

My husband (the big earner of the two of us) has negotiated for more vacation time at various times (at performance reviews and when changing jobs) and has ALWAYS found it extremely beneficial - nay, essential - to get it in writing.
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Re: Got the offer, but...
Old 03-19-2005, 05:00 PM   #7
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Re: Got the offer, but...

My brother just left a job where (on a bad day)
he had a 2 to 2.5 hour commute each way.
I couldn't believe it, but he stuck it out for a year.
Re. "get it in writing", always a good idea if you
can do it tactfully.

JG
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Re: Got the offer, but...
Old 03-21-2005, 06:39 AM   #8
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Re: Got the offer, but...

Definately get it in writing. The wife was rehired for a company that promised full benefits as soon as hired and a substantial pay raise. The benefits didn't start until 6 months later. She complained that the package she negotiated was benies as soon as hired. Her boss promised her a substanial raise at the one year make. Seh got the raise, something like 15%, but when the company paid the cost of living raises she received $6.00 per year, the reason given was she had just received a good raise.

On the pay side I've seen VP's of a well known company only make $18,000 per year base pay, but thier bonus was well into the six figures.

My thoughts are that if your willing to get into the hunt for big game and the company looks sound go for it. If after a year or two you find the company/job is unbearable jump ship.
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Re: Got the offer, but...
Old 03-21-2005, 11:46 AM   #9
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Re: Got the offer, but...

Well, I took the job. I spoke to them again today and they bumped up their base offer by 12%. Since I know full well that it was a good-faith effort on their part and that I was not going to get more, I verbally accepted. The bottom line is that the base is now decently livable, and the real upside is in the annual bonus. Even without the bonus, I am about 10% to the good vs. my current comp, and if the bonus is anything like I have been lead to believe, wowza... If it doesn't work out, then I am better off than if I stayed where I am and there is no law that says I can't go elsewhere.

I will not be quitting the current gig until I get it in writing (tomorrow, I expect). I am hoping like hell that they give me my check and tell me to get out. Maybe I will finally spill the beans as to who my current/former employer is/was at that point.
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Re: Got the offer, but...
Old 03-21-2005, 01:10 PM   #10
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Re: Got the offer, but...

brewer -

What kind of work do you do out of curiousity?
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Re: Got the offer, but...
Old 03-21-2005, 01:24 PM   #11
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Re: Got the offer, but...

Quote:
brewer -

What kind of work do you do out of curiousity?
Check out the last sentence he wrote...
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Re: Got the offer, but...
Old 03-21-2005, 05:34 PM   #12
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Re: Got the offer, but...

I would guess that Mr. Brewer is some sort of fixed income analyst/manager...maybe at an I-bank? Or GE Capital? He sounds pretty quant, so I might say DE Shaw, but then he also sounds like he has decent social skills and common sense (so maybe NOT Shaw). *

Congrats on accepting the offer!
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Re: Got the offer, but...
Old 03-21-2005, 07:33 PM   #13
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Re: Got the offer, but...

I believe he said he is a bond analyst. Assumedly not with GM.
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Re: Got the offer, but...
Old 03-21-2005, 08:47 PM   #14
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Re: Got the offer, but...

Well he claims to be a wage slave so we might be working for the same company. Congratulations on the new job. We may have to play the Johnny Paycheck song for you.
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Re: Got the offer, but...
Old 03-22-2005, 07:22 AM   #15
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Re: Got the offer, but...

Good luck brewer. I always value your financial
viewpoints. Keep them coming.

Cheers,

Charlie
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Re: Got the offer, but...
Old 03-22-2005, 07:59 AM   #16
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Re: Got the offer, but...

Quote:
Well he claims to be a wage slave so we might be working for the same company.
Do you also get chafing from your leg shackles? Does GoldBond powder help?
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Re: Got the offer, but...
Old 03-22-2005, 08:07 AM   #17
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Re: Got the offer, but...

Well, I quit this morning. I heard some preliminary bitching due to the fact that I am leaving on vacation on Mar 31 and "we normally expect two weeks notice", but the vacation has been on my calendar since Jan. 4 and there is only so much I can do now anyway. I will try very hard to be polite and professional, but if they push me too hard, I may be inclined to morph into the mad sh!tter...
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Re: Got the offer, but...
Old 03-22-2005, 10:48 AM   #18
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Re: Got the offer, but...

Hopefully it will all work out with the new job, and those left behind will just get with the picture and leave you alone.

Hope the new job is great. I'd hate the commute personally, but it is obviously worth it to you. When are you getting the minivan?
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Re: Got the offer, but...
Old 03-22-2005, 10:53 AM   #19
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Re: Got the offer, but...

No doubt the commute will suck just as much as my current 90 minute trek sucks. That's life.

I solicited price quotes from 8 or 9 dealers last night via e-mail. We'll see how the bidding is progressing tonight, since I cannot access my personal e-mail from behind the corporate firewall. They blocked all webmail sites because too manuy idiots were downloading viruses from their mail.
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Re: Got the offer, but...
Old 03-23-2005, 09:59 AM   #20
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Re: Got the offer, but...

You should start getting excited! You'll have a new job with new people to meet and new tasks to do. Change is good for the soul.
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