What Job to Pick


I have been working at a small firm now for the past 14 months. I love the work environment and most of my co-workers. Over the past year I have been exposed to more then my friends who work at larger firms. Working at a small firm, I get so much more hands on experience with projects, face time with clients and even get to design and manage my own projects (even if they are small TIs). Two months ago I got an increase in pay, not a lot but enough to make a difference and now make around $33K with a masters degree. This afternoon, one of my friends at a big shop in town told me they were hiring and had told someone in charge of hiring about me and my experience. They want me to come in for an interview. The job pays well, roughly $10,000 more if I get the same offer they extended to one of my other friends. This is my problem... Do I stick it out with the small firm that has given me experience? Or do I jump ship and head for higher pay? 


One of the things that is killing me is that we are already understaffed and have several projects on the horizon. If I leave, I dont know how they will fill my spot. Being a small firm, its not like they can steal someone from a large firm because they cant offer the same pay / benefits. I want to hear the larger firm out and see what they can offer. I know that talking with the new firm doesn't guarantee a job, but I'm not sure how to handle things with my current boss if I do get an offer.

I also know that there is greater risk changing firms because the larger firms in town tend to chop heads when jobs start to die off.


Does anyone have any experience with this? Any advise would be very helpful.

Aug 21, 14 5:40 pm

Are you in middle america, on the coasts, or in Europe or Canada? $33k is not alot, and for me it would be a no-brainer. When you sense the big firm losing work or scaling back, line up another job and be prepared for if/ when they do layoffs.


You owe your employer nothing. You have provided valuable services, they have paid you for said services. end of exchange.

Aug 21, 14 5:53 pm

Thank you archanymous for the input. I live in Idaho.

Aug 21, 14 6:05 pm

Yeah, you always follow the money in this profession. Don't believe any of the hot air that employers will give, "stay with us for nothing and someday you we will partner you". LOL


Aug 21, 14 6:14 pm

majpdx23, being a firm owner (former) I feel for the little guy but at your early stage all you’ll get with staying anywhere are dribs and drabs. I don’t know why it is that businesses do this but it’s the only way for you to get what you are worth. This won’t be the first jump; I made 5 jumps in almost as many years before I found solid ground. Going to talk-it-over doesn’t hurt anybody but if the dress fits you’ve got to buy it.

Aug 21, 14 7:42 pm

If you like the small firm environment, beware of large corporate firms. They're rarely even close to the same job.

Aug 21, 14 8:04 pm


With PDX, I almost thought Portland, Oregon. Okay.

If you choose to get the better paying job, I maybe willing to help your current employer temporarily if the logistics and all pencil's out.

Idaho is only next door state, however, it's quite a few miles to commute for sure from Astoria, Oregon to Idaho. If the small firm is equipped with means and methods work with those not regularly in their office... efficiently, I might be able to help fill in temporarily. 

I'll be willing to help from where I am at, where necessary. It is not conventional employment but I am willing to help but I wouldn't be able to commute daily from Astoria, Oregon to wherever in Idaho. It would be already a full work shift to get there and to get back. 

There is a bit of logistics to work out.

Aug 21, 14 8:11 pm

There is often more room for advancement at a small firm than there is in a big office. There's also more opportunity for learning and being involved in every stage of projects. And far less bullshit office politics. Case by case, of course.

If you love where you are, that beats the hell out of more money at a place you could care less about. Money is not the only measure in life, and it's often the wrong one.

Explore the options. Interview, see if you think you'll like it, see if they make an offer, then go talk to your boss. Be honest, don't try to play him. Commitment is often rewarded. If not, well then you know. 

Aug 21, 14 9:21 pm

It speaks to your character that you're concerned about the well being of your current employer. However, you probably will not be the first to leave their firm and you won't be the last. Provided you give adequate notice (2-4 weeks) they should be able to fill your slot fairly easily in this slow economy. You have to do what's best for you and your career.

If you generally like your current situation and are considering leaving only because of the money, you do have the option Miles mentions above. Once you have a confirmed offer in hand from the large firm, you always can sit down with your present employer, tell them what's going on and see if they can match what you've been offered. They may not bite, so you need to be prepared to accept the other offer before doing this.

However, if your current firm values what you do for them, they may appreciate the chance to discuss this with you before you accept the other offer. They may not be able to match the offer, but they may be able to scrape up enough money to make the decision to stay not so difficult.

Aug 21, 14 9:53 pm

I have experienced almost eh exact same thing, except I was laid-off from a small firm and now work for a very large corporate firm.

If you are able to make your life work on 33K salary and are not struggling to pay all the bills I think you should stay with the smaller firm for a few more years, at least until you finish IDP or are comfortable with your knowledge set. 

A large corporate firm does have it's benefits, more people to learn from, broader range of projects, office perks, name-brand recognition on the resume. However you will not be getting the same responsibility that you are experiencing in this smaller firm. A larger firm is able to spread the work out a lot more than a smaller firm, meaning you might be relegated to the "smaller" tasks of a project that might not be as exciting.

Take advantage of working and learning in this smaller firm. Most people earn a majority of their money later in life anyways, and by then your extensive experience with a smaller company may mean you have your own business.

Aug 22, 14 10:18 am
x intern

If you like where you are you can game the system a little and give your employer a chance to match the offer of another firm, if they really need you they may match, if not you loose nothing.  Just know if your offered a job and turn it down you've probably burned that bridge permanently. It sounds like you're in a small market so burning bridges is dangerous.  If you really have guts you could play this card before talking to the other firm but be prepared to walk out the door if they don't  match because it will never be the same.   Everyone's trying to get as much as possible for a little as possible, you need  to have the confidence to at least ask for more..... they can say no but they will respect you for playing the game.   

Aug 22, 14 10:30 am

I failed to mention that when I made my jumps it was mostly because I felt I had learned all that I could or felt boxed-in somehow and used the jumps to learn more, jump to another different box and garner more money in the process, probably 50/50.

Aug 22, 14 10:50 am
You've made a good assessment on the difference between your job at both firms, but what about your fit w the personality at each firm? My experience is that the ceiling is much lower at small firms and the project quality is lower too. However, corporate culture can be toxic at either one, so be sure to interview THEM too.
Aug 23, 14 7:23 am


You should never get your existing employer to match an offer or lure you back with $$. It is well documented that 9/10 that accept a counteroffer are back looking for work within 6 months. It is basically saying to your employer, " I don't like working here, but I will stay for more $$..." They are going to replace you first chance they get as you have demonstrated a willingness to leave and no one likes to feel like you were "cheating" on them with other firms. 

From the other side, if it takes the threat of leaving for them to pay you what you are worth, is that somewhere you really want to be? 

Talk to literally any recruiter, career advisor, or professional employment coach and they will tell you to never take a counteroffer. I have never/come across someone who it worked well for in the long term.

Aug 23, 14 9:46 am

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