is a higher-paying job worth extra stress?

A reader writes:

I’m an executive assistant for a medium size nonprofit organization. I absolutely love my job, the organization, and my boss. Like most nonprofits, the salary is on the low side. Currently I am at $40,000 a year but usually I receive a few enhancements, making my salary closer to $43,000 a year.

I was contacted by a corporation for an executive assistant position at $65,000 a year. While the job duties are very similar, I did some research on the corporation and there has been recent management changeover, several key employees left, and one of the new executives had several sexual harassment allegations at a previous company. The allegations were settled privately. This would be the executive I would report to. I’m sure my husband trusts me, but I don’t know if I could trust my new boss.

On top of this, I have some minor health issues that a stressful job could make worse. The idea of going from a laid-back organization to a large corporation with a potential for high stress is concerning to me. In my current job, my boss lets me come in late if I have an appointment, go during lunch, etc. Currently my job does not affect my health anyway and my job performance is not affected by my health. I need work-life balance and I’m always worried a new employer may “talk the talk but not walk the walk” regarding “family comes first.”

I have a lot of college loans and the money certainly would be helpful. Does the extra money negate the negatives of changing jobs?

I believe pretty firmly that only you can decide that. The answer is heavily dependent on your current finances, your financial obligations, your savings and saving goals, what you want out of your career, and what you care about most in life. It’s also dependent on where you are in your life right now; sometimes that kind of trade-off makes sense at one stage of your life but wouldn’t interest you during another stage.

It’s certainly not unreasonable to decide that extra money isn’t worth giving up a job you love and a work environment you’re happy in, if you’d be trading it for stress, less flexibility, and possible health issues. On the other hand, a 51% salary increase isn’t exactly minor. It also has more of an impact when you’re starting at $40,000 than if you were starting at $100,000; the additional money is likely to buy you a bigger increase in quality of life and more financial breathing room. And plenty of people do decide that they’re willing to work long hours with less than pleasant people in exchange for the right amount of money (take a look at big law).

It really just depends on what you value most right now.

I say go to the interview and keep an open mind. Do not go with the mindset of “I want this job” or “I’m so excited about this salary.” Go with the mindset of “I’m going to gather as much information as I can so I can figure out if this is something I’d even want.”

After talking with them, you might come away feeling like there’s no way you’d want to work with them (in which case, problem solved). Or you might feel more interested than you expected to. If that happens, take a brutally honest inventory of pros and cons, and what you’d really be selling them for the price they’d be paying. If you’d just be selling a few extra hours of your time per week, that might be worth it. But if you’d be selling your health or your quality of life, it’s probably not. The real answer is probably somewhere in between, and that’s where we get into “only you can decide what want from a job” … but the key thing is to figure out what the trade would really be, and then you can decide if it’s a trade that interests you.

{ 215 comments… read them below or add one }

  1. Anonymous Educator

    one of the new executives had several sexual harassment allegations at a previous company. The allegations were settled privately. This would be the executive I would report to.

    You can decide what you can stand and how much the money matters, but honestly this sounds horrible. While it’s theoretically possible for someone to be falsely accused of sexual harassment, it’s far more common for nothing to be done about it… or for it to be settled out of court.

    Reply
    1. MK

      Yes, this is seriously worrying. It’s possible he was falsely accused (though “several” complaints make that highly unlikely) and it’s possible he has learned his lesson, but it’s next to impossible to be sure before you go to work for him.

      Reply
      1. RVA Cat

        This is seriously worrying – and probably why the recruiter is having such a hard time filling this role.

        That said, it could be a great opportunity and stepping stone for someone else – though somehow I doubt Mr. Creepasaurus would want to hire a dude.

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        1. Jen S. 2.0

          Yes, it does happen.

          But it’s WAY more likely that this is the job about which we will be saying, 6 months down the road, in this very comment section, things like, “That sucks; the best you can hope for is to find something new and get out,” and “Next time do a lot of research before you commit,” and “Six months isn’t really a short-term job,” and “It’s so hard when you don’t have a crystal ball to see these things,” and “You have to listen to your instincts,” and “Your boss is an ass.”

          There will be other well-paying jobs. You don’t have to take THIS one.

          Reply
          1. Lily in NYC

            Yes, this. I would start a search for other high-paying admin jobs instead. I’m an executive assistant, and I think having a good rapport/liking your boss is more important in admin roles than with non-admin roles, because your entire work life revolves around that person. When it’s bad, it’s really bad because you can’t exactly avoid the person whose calendar you manage…

            Reply
      2. Ask a Manager Post author

        It’s also possible, though, that they have him on a very short lease specifically because of the settlement at the previous company. If the OP would otherwise be seriously interested in the job, she could talk to other people working there and see if she could get a better sense of the environment.

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        1. Ad Astra

          True. It may not be an absolute no-go, but if OP can make similar money working for someone who hasn’t been accused of sexual harassment, why bother looking further into it? (Of course, we don’t know OP’s exact financial situation, so it’s hard to know how choosy she can afford to be.)

          Reply
          1. Ask a Manager Post author

            Well, in part because of my reasoning in the “my interviewer was arrested for domestic violence” post last week: We don’t know that any interviewer isn’t a sexual harasser. We just know that this guy was reprimanded for it (and may actually be on a shorter leash as a result than someone who hasn’t been reprimanded and thus is continuing to harass with impunity, although who knows).

            Reply
            1. Whippers

              Never actually thought of it that way; that you might actually be safer around this guy because he could have greater safeguards against him. Kinda like how it’s probably safest to fly after terrrorist attacks because the security is so heightened.(obviously an extreme metaphor)

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            2. Sarahnova

              I see your point there, and at least the OP is pre-warned, but my sad, sad experience is basically that a) these guys don’t change, and b) many/most work environments struggle to address these issues effectively. It would be 100% a dealbreaker for me, not least because of the personal baggage that would be triggered by working *directly* for a guy who is almost certainly a serial sexual harasser.

              I think this situation is different from the “arrested for domestic violence” one because 1) this situation IS about behaviour in the workplace/to subordinates and 2) there’s a higher chance IMO that he is guilty (several complaints and reprimand strike me as unlikely to be unlucky or an accident). That said, it is indeed up to the OP to decide how she weighs this, but I’d be leaning towards “no” unless she could REALLY use the money.

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          2. BRR

            In addition to Alison’s point, there are a lot of other factors to consider besides money and sexual harassment allegations.

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        2. neverjaunty

          It’s possible, but then again, it’s also possible that if I buy a PowerBall ticket tonight I might win. It’s not very likely, though.

          This guy apparently had multiple sexual harassment complaints at a previous company that were “settled privately” (which I take to mean that the company reached a monetary settlement with the complainants, rather than going to a trial and verdict) – which suggests that this was not simply a single accusation, or one determined to be unfounded, or a consensual but very ill-advised work romance. At a minimum, it’s an indication that this executive has extremely poor judgment.

          This is not the equivalent of the previous letter you responded to, where the interviewee was concerned about a single arrest with no further action taken. And it was public enough that OP found out about it.

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          1. A Manager

            “At a minimum, it’s an indication that this executive has extremely poor judgment.”

            I can’t agree more with this comment. It is rare that someone who does something like this shows great judgment in everything else. There will be other problems, some of which, a tighter leash won’t fix.
            I had to report a boss for sexual harassment. He was eventually let go due to sexual harassment, discrimination and retaliation. In addition to what he was let go for, he was a huge bully and would say the worst things to his direct reports, even in front of their peers. He was a gossip, never got his work done on time and wasn’t available if you needed him for something. Even if the OP thinks the sexual harassment would be monitored, poor judgment usually extends to multiple areas and would present many more opportunities for workplace stress.

            Reply
    2. squirrel

      Yes this is a huge red flag. And re: your overall question, I’ve been there and I’d rather make a bit less and not be in a toxic work environment, and have a healthy work-life balance.

      Reply
      1. Amber T

        It’s almost guaranteed that jumping ship from non-corporate to corporate means a bigger salary. So two things to consider…
        – Do you love and support what your non-profit does? Would working for a company where the main purpose probably is to make a select group of people more money make you sad?
        – Is the pay increase that important? Are you and your family struggling to make ends meet, or did the thought of $12k more get you thinking?

        Allison is 100% right – this is not a decision that the internet can make for you, only you and your family can figure out if it’s worth it. But remember, you’ll be spending a third of your life there, so if you hate it, no amount of money is worth it. (That said, you can’t know for sure that it will be terrible unless you actually work there, but red flags have already been raised. LISTEN TO YOUR GUT!)

        If my old company offered me a job, I don’t care what salary they offered me, the answer would be no. My emotional and mental health is worth much more than $12k, even $120k.

        Reply
    3. Shan

      I agree completely! I was sexually harassed at my old job and my employer did nothing. The harassment stopped, but I was constantly scared as a result, and it got so bad that I started having (violent) recurring nightmares. I absolutely LOVED that job and the pay, and thought the long hours and stress were worth it – but I drew the line when my safety and my sanity was compromised.

      Reply
    4. KH

      Even if the guy is a pig, you might consider also this job as a temporary stepping stone into future better opportunities. Deals like this where they have trouble finding candidates can sometimes be that rare chance to break in to a different, better sector! Just imagine how much better your resume would look like at the end of a couple years, and the doors it opens.

      Reply
  2. Alabama Job Vet

    My dad and my mentor in the Army both had an adage they often quoted, “If you’re not happy in what you’re doing you will never do a good job at it.” IMO if you won’t be happy, no jump in monetary compensation will make it worth while. Good luck and let your conscience be your “guide”.

    Reply
    1. MK

      This is a popular saying, but frankly I know people who are (by natural talent and/or work ethic) great at jobs they dislike.

      Reply
      1. LBK

        I agree – one of the best salespeople I ever worked with absolutely hated selling, but she sucked it up because it came naturally to her and she made a killing at it (her monthly sales bonus was about 3-4 times what I made in salary).

        Reply
      2. Helka

        I was a really good call center rep. I hated almost every minute of it. But professionalism meant not acting like I hated it. It was also less stressful to do a good job than a bad one.

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        1. Shannon

          The strangest compliment I ever got was when I was working the photo counter at a Walgreens. I hated every minute of it. The volume of customers we were expected to serve was just too much for one person, honestly. I remember spending nights chained to the register, taking in photos for 1 hour processing and doing little more than being at the register and moving the film of customers who wanted their pictures up in the queue. The machine was not great and would break. I had an assistant manager yelling at me to straighten up my assigned aisles. This lady comes through my line and says, quite seriously, that it’s “so nice to see someone who loves their job as much as you do.”

          I would rather spork my eyeballs out than spend another minute in that hellhole, yet, she, somehow thought I loved my job. I didn’t love my job. I loved getting paid. I loved the promotion I got shortly after that that got me somewhat out of customer service and more into inventory management.

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      3. SanguineAspect

        I count myself among this group. I’m good at my job, people like working with me (as far as I know), and I really don’t love what I do. But I’m in a “I can’t earn as much doing other things,” place. And right now in my life, making money is important so I can pay off debts. Maybe in another 10 years or so, I can dial things back to a place where I could find a job I might like because salary wouldn’t be a must.

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    2. Steamroller

      Yeah, I haaaaate customer service but I’m damn good at it. If it paid $100K a year, I’d do it with a big ol fake smile plastered on my face every day.

      Reply
    3. RLA

      ok so long time reader first time poster just for this – I’ve been in customer service/account management my whole professional career, because I’m very good with people. I’ve constantly gotten praise and good feedback about how good I am at these types of roles, but I’m getting so very tired of it. I’m looking to transition into a different career track that would avoid having to put up with clients calling at 4:50 pm on a Friday (happened last week). A few of my friends are confused about why I would want to leave a position that I’m “good at” – it’s because I dislike it!

      Reply
      1. usesofenchantment

        Being very good with people in a customer service/client advocate role requires not just communicating effectively and kindly. Would you say that is the case with you? Regardless of how asinine or logistically unfeasible a client’s behavior might be as a pattern or an isolated incident, you are able to convey whatever message is required that does not upset, confuse or unrealistically encourage them?

        And, if you find yourself good with people when *you* are the customer/client and know how to talk to service/sales reps to get what you want (be it clarity, a discount, honoring a verbal agreement, etc), communications is definitely your forte. I’m curious; would you say that it comes naturally to you because you don’t question the rationale of why or how to articulate concepts, updates (even negative ones), and ultimatums?

        You may be recognizing you have indeed a threshold when it comes to how much service work you can do over the course of years (or in short bursts?).

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    4. BRR

      I certainly see that point but I also think some people really take pride in what they do even if they hate it and I do think for the right amount of money, adults will do almost anything.

      Reply
  3. Whippers

    My honest inclination would be to run. If you want a higher paying job, look elsewhere but this sexual harassment thing would worry me.

    Reply
  4. Anonymous Educator

    If money matters that much, I’d ignore this company and look at another one. If you’re working in the for-profit world, executive assistant compensation can be quite good… doesn’t have to be at this particular company. Stay where you are and keep applying for other jobs and see what you can get. Sounds as if you could use the money… but also that you can stay where you are until the right opportunity comes along.

    Reply
    1. Brooke

      Agreed. While high salaries TEND to bring with them somewhat stressful jobs, I managed to land in a job that pays quite well and has a relatively low level of stress, and a good work/life balance. For me, it’s less about my job function but more about the industry/company I perform that function within.

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      1. Dan

        Same here. I work for a non-profit as an individual contributor and make almost six figures. (Our 403b match is substantial; that puts me over the six-figure mark.) I work 40 hours a week, with hours that I choose, and get a month of vacation.

        My job couldn’t be less stressful.

        I’m well aware that if someone were to dangle a fat paycheck in front of me, I’d have to figure out how bad it would screw over my quality of life. I’m at the point in my life that while an increase in my pay would be nice, and I could certainly use it, I can afford to be picky about what I would do for that increase.

        Reply
        1. Brandy

          Agree! I make ~175 with a big team, inc 5 high maintenance direct reports, travel, and tons of exec off hours meetings, etc. I would take a 75k pay cut for a 40 hour no stress workweek.

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  5. AdAgencyChick

    The answer always depends on your personal context, as Alison says.

    Also consider the possibility of using a job like this as a stepping stone. I certainly wouldn’t take a 33% pay increase if it came with, say, fear for my physical safety or health. But I might take it if the drawbacks were significantly longer hours and a mean boss *if* I thought that I could stand it for a year or two and then use that higher salary as a stronger starting point when negotiating for my next job.

    There’s enough variability in exec assistant salaries that I don’t think you have to choose between “amazing company and crappy salary” and “terrible company with great salary” — there are plenty of places in the middle, and even places that are good and pay good salaries.

    Reply
    1. Paige Turner

      On the other hand, is it possible that if the OP takes this job and the much higher salary and then decides to leave, that her salary will be higher than average and she’ll find it harder to get a better but lower-paying job? I’d hope not, but there have been stories here about how it can be hard to convince a potential employer that you’d be okay with taking a pay cut.
      Either way, I agree with you that the OP should be looking at more options than just these two.

      Reply
      1. Alli525

        Might be tricky in the application process, but I’d imagine saying something in an interview like “I know it’s a pay cut, but I was making a similar salary at Old Job. I switched industries partly because of the salary bump, but after spending a couple years in New Job, I decided that the industry isn’t for me and am comfortable taking a lower salary in an industry I’m more comfortable in” … or something similar … would probably cover it!

        Reply
      2. Koko

        I know this isn’t always an option for everyone, but as a rule I don’t disclose my salary to potential employers. It’s none of their business. The only time I divulged was when my current salary was at the top of their range for the position and I let them know so they would be motivated to go a little above it to lure me away. On a couple of online applications I left it blank, but honestly, I can’t think of very many jobs that asked for my salary history anyway. I guess it’s not that common in my field. 90% of the jobs I’ve applied to just wanted a resume and cover letter emailed to someone, there was no application asking for any specific pieces of information.

        Reply
  6. Cucumberzucchini

    If you need to the money if can be worth it if it’s a big difference in pay. I recommend setting aside some “FU” money if you decide to do it so you could rage-quit whenever you want. (Of course you’d politely and professionally explain to your employer you need to quit with notice due to health reasons or some other benign reason.)

    If you can’t set aside some FU money, I recommend being able to save 3-6 months salary of basic living expenses over the duration, on top of enjoying better take home page it may not be worth it.

    Having done it myself I will say it was worth it. It was horrible. Soul-sucking. Miserable. Health impacting. But for me worth it. I allowed myself first one month to try it out (I wasn’t leaving another job so this wasn’t a big deal). Then 3 months. Then one year. Then one more year. I made some excellent contacts, really elevated my experience and accumulated some good savings. I almost quit many, many times. But in the end I’m glad I did it.

    But never again.

    Reply
    1. Graciosa

      I recommend setting aside this money no matter what.

      Even if you love your job and have a great boss, she could be replaced with a jerk tomorrow. The company could be sold. They could decide to close that office (or layoff everyone in the state ).

      I know someone who honestly believed for many years that it was possible to anticipate a can accident and buckle up before the impact. Guess how she found out that that doesn’t work?

      There are too many things that can happen in ordinary life to imagine you can predict them and save your emergency funds when you know you’re likely to need them.

      Reply
      1. Graciosa

        A car accident, not a can accident.

        Although I am now picturing an accident involving towering cans displayed at an endcap in a grocery store – another thing that can go wrong unexpectedly, but I’m enjoying the visual. ;-)

        Reply
  7. Kate

    It’s a tough call, and my first thought was: only you can decide that for yourself. Albeit the sexual harrasment allegation do worry me.
    There’s also another option you might want to consider: ask for a salary raise! I know it’s a non-profit organization, but if you put together a good case for why you deserve a salary raise, go for it, because they might be willing to give you one! (Only do this if you don’t plan on moving on from the company you currently work for for at least a few months – a year perhaps? I think you can decide after you got to the interview to the other company to gather more info, so you can make an informed decision.)
    Good luck, whatever you decide to do!!!

    Reply
      1. Artemesia

        I knew someone who got nearly a doubling of salary in a situation like this. It actually made him angry that they had been putting him off forever until he looked to move on and then suddenly they could pay him twice what they were paying him. Plenty of places CAN pay more — they just don’t, and they particularly don’t to women who will accept that ‘it is a non-profit and they can’t afford it.’ And then some new gets hired making much more than they are with fewer qualifications.

        Reply
  8. Brooke

    There’s someone at the same company who I wouldn’t work for if they tripled my pay. She comes across great at first but I’d rather live in my car than be beaten down by someone who’s known to be (and truly is) a terrible person.

    Reply
  9. Episkey

    I went from making $40,000+ a year to about $16/hour, ~33 hours a week. BEST DECISION EVER. Love my lower paying job, I don’t have nightmares, I have more flexibility, and I don’t cry on Sundays.

    But again, only you can decide and I have the added security of a spouse who makes a decent income.

    Reply
    1. non-profit manager

      I am another one who took a huge pay cut – I am currently making about half of what I made in the corporate world. I was the primary wage-earner in our family. We’ve had to modify our lifestyle a bit and re-adjust retirement expectations. But I am happy, I sleep at night, a lot of health problems have gone away, I have much more flexibility, and I also no longer cry on Sundays. I would not trade my current circumstances for more money if it came along with the baggage I left behind.

      Reply
      1. Dan

        “re-adjust retirement expectations”

        That’s a big one. I’ve got a job that isn’t stressful, and I like. Pays relatively decent. Because I like my job and it isn’t stressful, “make as much as you can so you can retire ASAP” isn’t on my to-do list. I’m a-ok working until 70 or whatever number I’d need to have a comfortable retirement. It also allows me to have a little bit more fun now, and for that matter, less stress.

        Reply
        1. non-profit manager

          Yes, in oldjob, I wanted to retire as fast as I could. Now I enjoy my work and could see myself shifting to part-time eventually.

          And, funny thing, even though I am making less, I am happier and spending less on stupid stuff and am actually 1) saving more for retirement and 2) paying down debt so our retirement living expenses will be pretty minimal. Previously, I expected to go into retirement with a lot of debt and little savings due to my spending on stupid stuff habit, but that has changed.

          The other expectation we adjusted was that we would travel a lot. I just wanted to get away, all the time. Now I am happy to stay put. Oh, I expect we will travel and I anticipate having plenty of money to take a couple of trips a year. But we won’t be globe-trotters, and I’m okay with that.

          Reply
    2. HeyNonnyNonny

      I’m planning to take a big pay cut for a better job– while benefits will balance it out a little, I also made the choice to be a part of a better team and step away from some frustrating upper management. Definitely worth the cut for me!

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    3. Taylor

      While my current job isn’t perfect, it’s less stress and shorter hours (I actually get out at 5 PM!) with more flexibility than any other job I’ve ever had. At my old job, I had just gotten a $10k raise with a title bump when they lost their funding suddenly. When I got my current job, I found myself back down to my original salary (so technically a $10k cut and a lower title, but then again I had only had those two things for a few months) and while it’s not ideal, I REALLY LOVE MY LIFE RIGHT NOW. I love being able to come home early, run errands after work, cook dinner, go to yoga, etc. Sure, a little more money is always sweet, but I’m enjoying my slightly less ambitious job for the moment.

      Again, it’s totally personal (my finances are well in order, I don’t have kids or debts), but I’ve been hesitant to apply to more high-stress and high-paying jobs than what I have now. I see some of my peers hustling hard at their jobs.. maybe I’m being a bit “lazy” but I’ll take it for now. I’ve got about 40 more years of working; I’m sure I’ll have more crappy, stressful jobs in the future!

      Reply
  10. Ad Astra

    Alison is right that ultimately only the OP can make this call for herself. But, in this case, I’m very much leaning toward no, it’s not worth it.

    If you’re struggling to pay rent, or your car’s on its last leg but you can’t afford a new one, or you can’t scrape up enough money to build a decent emergency fund, taking a high-paying job with a number of red/yellow flags might still be a smart move. OP, are you making it on $43k a year? A lot of people can get by on that salary, but obviously we don’t know your exact circumstances. If you’re doing fine but the raise would allow you to take cooler vacations or buy more gadgets (which are completely valid and reasonable things to want), my advice is to wait for a different opportunity.

    Now, if the higher-paying job were simply faster-paced, or required more (but still not insane) hours, the trade-off might be worth it. It’s the high turnover combined with reporting directly to someone with sexual harassment allegations in his past that makes me think this job is more trouble than it’s worth for someone who has options.

    It’s perfectly ok to value money over free time or flexibility, but I have a bad feeling about this particular job.

    Reply
    1. AnotherAlison

      See, I landed on the other side. This is a pretty big jump. If it was $43k to $50k, I’m with you, but at $43 to $65 (plus there could be OT opportunities, if it truly is more demanding) I’m changing jobs. When I graduated, it took me 5 years to get an $18,000 increase from a similar salary.

      Plus, thinking long term, if the OP saved 10% of her salary in retirement now, continuing to save 10% at the higher salary would double the amount for retirement (varies depending on age, etc.). Never mind she has to work 3 years now to make what she would make in less than 2 years at the new salary. The boss is probably questionable, but not ALL corporate admin jobs are that way. Heck, we had an exec admin whose exec was working out of another office, with another admin, 90% of the time. She did nothing, and it was a very corporate, very exec job. She’s positioning herself for better roles in the future by taking this one now.

      Reply
    2. TootsNYC

      . . . my advice is to wait for a different opportunity.
      . . .but I have a bad feeling about this particular job.

      This is what I’d think–explore it, give it a good consideration. But remember:

      It’s OK–smart, even, maybe–to treat this opportunity as research for the NEXT opportunity.

      Because some other corporate job may pay more but not have the other big negatives.

      Reply
  11. Former Retail Manager

    I think the real question is…worst case scenario….how much sexual harassment can you tolerate and for how long and to what degree of severity? Seriously. If the company settled complaints against this guy and didn’t give him the boot, you can rest assured that he is likely to remain in place and be permitted to continue what he was doing to others. Everyone has a different level of tolerance for this sort of thing and I’ve seen women win in cases for things that I would not have even been offended at (high tolerance, not easily offended by much). If anything in the sexual harassment realm makes you uncomfortable to even think about, it might not be the best move for you. And keep in mind that fighting this type of harassment, assuming you take legal channels, depending upon who you’re fighting against, has the ability to greatly impact your career and potentially leave you with a reputation as a “troublesome” employee, despite the fact that that may be entirely untrue and undeserved. Good luck with your decision!

    Reply
      1. neverjaunty

        That’s *almost* worse. “Oh, you’re a walking liability and if you harass somebody here, we’re going to have a hard time explaining we had no idea such a thing could happen? You’re hired!”

        Reply
        1. Ask a Manager Post author

          Without knowing details of what he was accused of, it’s hard to say that. If he’s great at what he does and he now gets that his previous behavior was inappropriate and is committed to not repeating it, I’m not going to say he should never be allowed to work again.

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          1. neverjaunty

            I don’t think anybody is saying he should renounce the working world and resign himself to a quiet life of contemplation at a monastery. But that’s a bit different than wondering why his new company decided to hire somebody with this kind of track record. He doesn’t have a history with them; how do they know him well enough to be sure that he genuinely gets why his behavior is a problem and is committed not to repeating it?

            I may, to be fair, be somewhat cynical on this point, having seen too many counter-examples.

            Reply
            1. Ask a Manager Post author

              My point is that we don’t know. They might know him quite well professionally and the decision actually makes sense. Or they might have been totally negligent in hiring him. I have no idea which it is.

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              1. Dan

                I do have a problem with the general attitude that a person’s future should always be defined by their past mistakes. By that logic, anybody who has ever been fired should never be hired again. I certainly don’t agree with that.

                IMHO, who cares if the guy doesn’t see why his behavior was a problem, as long as he doesn’t repeat the mistakes. Some people may very well have the opinion that the corporate world is full of a bunch of uptight prudes, but in order to keep their jobs, there’s certain things you have to abide by.

                The guy’s experience with the lawsuits or whatever could not have been pleasant. I can’t imagine wanting to go through that again if I were in his shoes. I may not agree that my behavior was a problem, but I’d certainly want to avoid the consequences.

                Reply
                1. neverjaunty

                  I admittedly don’t understand the countervailing attitude that a person’s past choices have nothing to say about how they’ll act in the future. There’s a lot of room between recognizing that people have room to learn and change, and giving people however many chances they ask for as long as they pinky-swear to behave themselves this time, for sure, really-o.

                  We don’t know that this guy went through litigation or that he faced unpleasant consequences for his actions (it’s not uncommon for harassment claims to be quietly settled by the company with the understanding that the offender will pay it back by moving along to a different professional opportunity). And while you treat unpleasant consequences a deterrent, plenty of people treat it as “don’t get caught next time”.

                2. Mike C.

                  Because over time, people change. Past environments that were overly permissive before may not match current environments now. That’s what you’re missing.

              2. Kiwi

                Makes sense = they’ve likely done the maths and worked out that the potential harassment settlements will cost less than his professional talent will make them. They wouldn’t be the first company to put morals (and employee/customer safety) aside in their analysis of revenues vs “the cost of doing business” (see car manufacturers and airlines).

                Reply
            2. Koko

              But aren’t you then essentially condemning him to never work again, if it’s irresponsible or poor judgment for anyone to ever hire him again?

              In my experience people are pretty responsive to reward and especially to punishment. It doesn’t change who they are but you’d be surprised how much self-control people will suddenly be able to exhibit as soon as it’s clear that there will absolutely 100% be negative consequences for their action. It’s when the culture sends the message that management agrees with you or will look the other way or will be biased towards you that you hear, “I just slipped up!” “I didn’t mean to!” “I was really upset!” and “I was drunk!” offered as excuses. Shut down the permissive culture and suddenly even really drunk, upset people can control themselves.

              Which goes to the point about asking about the company’s culture, policies around things like this, asking other people who work with him what their read is, etc.

              Reply
  12. LBK

    I would do two things in determining the factors at hand here:

    1) Roughly gauge how often over the last 6-12 months money has prevented you from doing something you wanted to do, whether it’s paying bills on time or turning down hanging out with friends or not booking that luxury cruise you’ve been dreaming about for years. Do you do this a lot?

    Work/life balance often relies heavily on actually being able to afford the life side with the money you get from the work side – are you actually able to enjoy the free time you have now, or are you hamstrung by your budget? I know it adds a ton of stress on me when I’m low on money and I have to constantly turn down invitations to go out or miss out on trips I want to take. That free time doesn’t mean as much when I have to spend all of it sitting at home watching Netflix (not that I don’t do a lot of that willingly!) because I can’t afford to do anything else.

    2) Think about how you talk to others about your current job. Does the relaxed environment and low stress feature heavily when you discuss why you like it or just how things are going with work?

    I know I bring up having flexible hours and a relaxed telework policy in pretty much every conversation I have about my job, so that indicates to me that those are critical pieces of why I enjoy it. If you find yourself jumping to these things as #1 reasons you like the job you have now, I think you’d be hard-pressed to find an amount of money that would compensate for losing them unless it was otherwise the perfect job.

    Reply
    1. TCO

      And the next question–although this job will give you the money to enjoy more travel/dining/etc., will you still have the time and energy to enjoy those things? Even if you’re not working many more hours, a stressful job can be more draining than you expect.

      Reply
      1. LBK

        That’s true, although I do think sometimes a high stress job makes your vacation time feel more earned – it emphasizes the difference between work mode and relaxation mode and makes you appreciate the latter more.

        Reply
    2. Ann O'Nemity

      Completely agree with #1.

      My old “low pay/ low stress” job caused me a lot of financial stress. Sure, I liked my job. I liked it a lot! But I hated having debt hanging over me, constantly turning down social invitations, and doing yet another “staycation” because that’s all I could afford. Where was the balance? I was trading my life happiness for more work happiness, but it didn’t feel like a good trade-off.

      Reply
  13. MassChick

    Alison, not meant as a nitpick but genuine confusion over the maths. Wouldn’t it it be more than a 50% salary increase?
    Current salary 43k
    New salary 65k
    Increase 22k
    Percentage increase 22k/43k x 100 = 51%

    Reply
    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      Yes — I saw someone’s comment about it below and corrected the math! (The increase is 33% of the new salary, but that makes no sense; I needed to calculate it off the old salary, where it’s 51%.)

      Maths.

      Reply
      1. MassChick

        :-)
        I agree with your advice. I was fortunate to be able to take a break from a well paying career and deal with a health issue. While the issue is well under control, the break helped me realise that I had no wish to return to my career in the same form. So I’m in the process of carving out a new one that incorporates the enjoyable aspects of the earlier career. But it does mean I’m earning less than half of what I could. If I had loans, or didn’t have a supportive partner, that wouldn’t have been an easy decision.

        Love your blog! I started reading as I was gearing up to get back into the corporate world. But now I find that I can use your advice and practical scripts when dealing with rambunctious middle schoolers :)

        Reply
  14. AndersonDarling

    Something else to consider…a bad job makes your whole life suck. Even if you consider the long hours and crummy interactions at the office, the bad attitude will leech into your personal life.
    When I had a bad job, I was an a$$hole to my friends and family. The paranoia, backstabbing, and gossip mentality doesn’t stay at the job, it becomes part of you. You need to consider what this would do to your family.
    The idea of $65,000 a year made me consider what I would do. Wow, it is a dream amount of income! But I would never go back to a crappy employer, even at that sum. It isn’t worth it to me and where I am in my life now.
    It is a tough decision.

    Reply
    1. AndersonDarling

      I should add that if I was a 20-something with no family or commitments, then I would go for the $$. I’d have the energy to endure it, and I wouldn’t be hurting anyone with my depressed, paranoid attitude.

      Reply
      1. Doriana Gray

        I thought the same thing about being able to handle it. I’m a (somewhat) energetic 20-something with no spouse or children, but when I worked at my last toxic job, you better believe my depression impacted friends and family. It was to the point where my mother begged me to go back to therapy. It’s getting back to that point again.

        So yeah. I wouldn’t be so sure about that, lol. (Though your bullshit tolerance threshold may admittedly be higher than mine.)

        Reply
            1. I'm a Little Teapot

              Yeah, I was hospitalized after he fired me (and made me cry every day before that). Actually, I was involuntarily hospitalized after he fired me because he told the police I was planning to kill myself (which I wasn’t, though I was really upset). The hospital bill (I was uninsured) was more than I made the whole time I’d worked for him. Gee, thanks for your “concern,” asshole! (Asshole=him, not you!)

              Reply
              1. Doriana Gray

                LOL, I knew who you were referring to. And yeah, he definitely qualifies. Calling the police on you and telling them you’re going to kill yourself?! Who does that?!

                Reply
    2. non-profit manager

      I posted above that I am now making about half of what I made in the corporate world. I agree with AndersonDarling about a bad job making your whole life suck. I also found myself spending way more money on stupid stuff because I thought I deserved it due to my job situation. Even though I made way more money, I actually have nothing to show for it. We are saving more money now than ever before, with very minor lifestyle modifications, and doing smarter things with our money. I just don’t feel the need to spend money on stupid feel-good junk that loses its allure after a short time.

      Reply
      1. TootsNYC

        A short-term high-earning gig might be powerful if you can really zoom in on the concept of “I’m earning more so we can save save save,” and you can get yourself to see your rising bank balance as a rewarding experience.

        But of course, giving up the gig you’ve got now will mean it’s not available to you in 3 years when you’re ready to ditch the stressful high-paying job.

        Reply
  15. deeply ashamed and embarrassed

    to ask this, but how is $65,000 vs $43,000 a 33% increase?

    plz delete if inappropriate to ask.

    Reply
    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      Ack, no, you’re right — it’s a 51% increase! I’ll correct the post! (The increase is 33% of the new salary, but that makes no sense; I needed to calculate it off the old salary.)

      Reply
    2. Sarasaurus

      I believe Allison was going off the fact that the LW’s current salary is 66% of the salary offered by the new job. I think Allison phrased it a bit strangely, because when I think salary increase, I think relative to my current salary and, as the new job’s salary is 151% of the LW’s current salary, I’d view what the LW is being offered as about a 50% increase. Really though, it’s a minor point to get hung up on – no matter what, it’s a really big salary increase and the LW should make the decision for themselves based on the hard numbers and their own wants, not on just how much of a percent increase it is.

      Reply
    1. Anonymous Educator

      That may work for you, but my last job was extremely stressful (the workload but, more importantly, the environment), and I took a $17k pay cut for my current job. Not one single day have I regretted it. Love my new job. It’s less stressful, more fulfilling, a shorter commute…

      I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels more money isn’t the most important thing in life.

      Reply
      1. Mallory Janis Ian

        I took a $10k pay cut to return to a university job from a job at private design firm. The reduced stress from my old boss’s spoiled, immature, unprofessional wife is well worth it. I wouldn’t work for her again if the salary were double what I make now.

        Reply
      2. Koko

        Yes, the environment. I’ve taken on work that was very hard but paid very well. I’m not afraid of hard work. But the hard work was bearable because I worked with good-natured and reliable people. We were in it together and we helped each other and we all shared in a sense of accomplishment when we had a big win. The exact same job with a gossipy office and a cruel boss would have been unbearable for any amount of money.

        Reply
    2. Dan

      I can’t agree with that. I wouldn’t do it if I weren’t reasonably sure that I could succeed in the position. The last thing you want to do is be out on your ass in two years with a poor reference, more money or not.

      Reply
        1. LBK

          I’d argue that it can in almost all ways. I’m trying to think of anything that contributes to my quality of life that doesn’t have some cost associated with it and I can’t. All my hobbies require money. Having a nice apartment contributes heavily to my quality of life and that’s by far my biggest expense. Even just the company of good friends has an associated cost since I like to travel or go out with them, and that’s certainly not free.

          Reply
    3. Sarahnova

      I don’t have the words to state how very much I do not agree with this principle.

      The list of things that make my life worthwhile and can’t be bought with money is long.

      Reply
    4. Mike C.

      Look, I’m not going to be as absolutist as Wilton here, but I’ve been through a job change where my salary increased by 70%. The change in my quality of life was HUGE.

      Reply
      1. NotMe

        This totally depends on what you value. For me, I really thrive in very challenging work environments and deal with work stress very well. I am also monetarily motivated. I’ve been poor and have dealt with the stress of that and do not want to go back.

        I understand that my personal preferences are not same as others, but for me a I can handle a possible jerk of a boss and more stress for a 50% increase.

        Reply
      2. LBK

        As Alison points out, it does also matter what the starting number is. IIRC studies have shown that it starts to level out around $75-80k, since by then you’ve usually upgraded your essentials (home, transportation, clothing, food) and can still afford your preferred luxuries, so at that point you’re just upgrading to nicer luxuries. Upgrading from a 3-day weekend trip to a week-long cruise doesn’t give you as much of an emotional boost as upgrading from a 4-bedroom with roommates to 1-bedroom by yourself.

        Reply
        1. Joline

          That’s the thought that I had when thinking about my current job and whether or not I wanted to eventually try for a promotion. But going from $92K working 33.75 hours a week with double-time for any of the rare overtime (over the 33.75/week, not over 40 hours/week) with union protection to $112K for 36 hours a week with more time worked but no overtime pay, no union, and a lot more stress….

          It’d be an extra $20K or so but because of where I’m starting it doesn’t put me into a significantly different level of amenities while decreasing my enjoyment of life outside of work due to stress. And it’s not worth it to me although in a pure money sense it is quite a bump.

          Reply
  16. Dan

    The OP is likely looking at increase in take home pay of about $1400/mo. That’s enough to make me think long and hard about whether or not it’s time to move on.

    “Stress” means different things to different people. The stress I would think about staying away from is that caused by poor management. If the nature of the job itself is stressful, I’d probably embrace it.

    While the big man himself having issues is certainly something to think about, if there’s one thing that I’ve learned in my career, big companies aren’t as big as they initially look. My company is almost 7000 people, and what goes on in many of the divisions doesn’t affect me at all. That division could be laying off while mine is hiring, and vice versa.

    Reply
  17. EmilyG

    I think the nature of the stress matters a lot. One kind of stress comes from feeling not in control of your work, accountable for outcomes you can’t manage, not having the right resources or support, people are mean or dismissive, etc. That kind is bad–the cry-on-Sunday kind of stress. (I thought that was just me!) But I’ve also had jobs that are more like high speed, busy busy all day, unpredictable but I feel like I have the reins–and I find that exhilarating.

    What with the sexual harassment concern, this sounds like the bad kind of stress, but I think it’s worth thinking about what circumstances *specifically* you find stressful and not, because you should be able to make more money at a job with the right kind of challenge for you. I second the recommendations above about being an executive assistant in a for-profit organization–I did this for a while and because I meshed well with the executive in question, it was great.

    Reply
    1. HeyNonnyNonny

      What with the sexual harassment concern, this sounds like the bad kind of stress, but I think it’s worth thinking about what circumstances *specifically* you find stressful and not

      Yes to this! It sounds like OP is already worried about the possibility of sexual harassment, but on the other hand, forewarned is forearmed and she’d have a supportive husband. There have been posts in the past on how to gently shut that sort of thing down, and it might be quite manageable for OP.

      Reply
  18. Azumi

    I’m curious as to how much an executive assistant at a nonprofit should be earning. I do a similar job and act in a variety of functions- development, office manager, almost all operations essentially, etc. and I earn more but consider myself very low paid. I did not negotiate strongly and I live in a major city with serious rent hikes. Any perspectives?

    Reply
    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      It’ll vary by location, but in D.C. I’ve seen an average range from $35k – $60k ish. Bu it could also be more for large, well-established, prestigious orgs, and less for tiny ones.

      Reply
    2. Devil's Avocado

      I can provide a single data point: I’m an EA/Office Manager for a small non-profit in an expensive city in western Canada and making $54,000.

      Reply
    3. TheAssistant

      I also find it varies by how much the position is valued by the organization. I worked at a large-r nonprofit in DC as an EA, and to the nonprofit, EA was an entry-level role. I argued very hard against this and even made a point of listing my own failings as someone too junior to succeed in the role, but they advertised it at a firm salary of 42k and were looking for folks with 0-3 years of experience.

      Reply
      1. Devil's Avocado

        Oh, yeah. That is definitely true. It is a title that is used to mean a lot of different roles.

        I’m actually job searching right now and that makes it challenging – I am explicit on my resume about the level of responsibility and the kind of tasks I manage, but I still think people see my title and think entry level, when in fact the level of work that I do could not be accomplished by someone without extensive experience.

        Reply
  19. KT

    This is a seriously personal topic, and your opinion may change…

    I left nonprofit work and a modest salary to pursue what I thought I wanted; a high-profile job for a major, Fortune 500 company making 6 figures. It was the job I thought I was meant to do–I made tons of money, met celebrities, did press tours..all the things PR people dream of. But I was working 80-90 hours a week, was so stressed that my health really suffered. I gained weight, was miserable, felt like a bad person to my wife because I was never home. I started crying every day before work.

    It just wasn’t worth it for me. I ended up taking a 50% paycut to join another nonprofit. While I DO miss not having to worry about money and being able to buy extravagant things without thinking, I am much happier…I get home at a decent time. I can sleep without having panic attacks. I can spend time with my husband and my dog. That’s means more than the money to me.

    I never thought I would be the person to “take a step back”. I’ve always been ambitious and driven…now it just drove me a different way!

    Reply
    1. Shannon

      I caught that and was wondering if you had a wife while you were working your first job and it went so badly that you got divorced and remarried to someone else.

      Reply
  20. Batty Hatty

    43k to 65k – 51% increase
    65k to 43k – 33% decrease
    It’s like when you take a 10% pay cut, then they give you a 10% raise later. You’re not back to the same salary…

    Reply
  21. Lia

    I know someone who was in almost the same situation (even to the accusations of sexual harassment at a prior company for the boss!). The new position was a huge step up in pay and prestige, and they were very, very eager to hire my friend — even paying moving expenses from across the company, and in a field where that is relatively uncommon. Yeah, there was a lot of turnover, and no one local seemed interested in the job, but friend went ahead and took it anyways.

    The high salary and quick hire should have been red flags. The job went downhill within months, and though friend was never sexually harassed, certainly witnessed enough of that plus verbal abuse to get out as quickly as possible, although to a lower paying job.

    Moral of the story: trust your gut.

    Reply
  22. Elizabeth

    OP, can you explain what you mean by being sure that your husband would “trust” you if you were to work with someone with a sexual harassment settlement in their past? It sounds like you’re not worried that your husband would believe that you provoked such harassment in some way should it happen to you, if I’m interpreting it correctly. Perpetrators saying they were “provoked” by their victims is a time-honoured excuse, so remember that if this is something that happens to you, it’s no one’s fault but the person who did it to you. You (or anyone else experiencing harassment) don’t need your husband’s trust here, you only need his support should something terrible happen.

    Reply
    1. Becky

      Yeah, it kind of sounds like the OP is mixing up “sexual harassment” with having an affair at work or something. That is not what this boss was doing.

      Reply
  23. Jady

    Health issues are a pretty big deal. If you see it severely impacting your health, how much time and money and stress is that going to cost you and your family, short term and long term? Factor that into the salary change.

    On the flip side, if you could stick it out for a year without significant problems, you could move on to a better place with a higher salary starting point.

    To me personally, it would depend on the health issues – what they exactly are and how badly they would impact me. I’d a lot more inclined to deal with some extra stress if I have say stomach pain (gallstones, I’ve had em!) vs if I’m in chemo or dialysis (for examples).

    (Disclaimer: Not trying to pry into the OP’s private issues. Just making a statement that the severity is an important factor.)

    In the end, the point of a job is money. That’s why most of us go to work every day. A higher amount is important, but not if it comes at the cost of long term health issues.

    Reply
  24. Leetaann

    I worked for years as an administrative assistant and the placement agency that placed me would call me periodically asking if I wanted to interview as an executive assistant for hedge fund managers. It would have meant at least a $40K bump in salary. However, in addition to needing to buy a car to get to the job and the added commute time in traffic (love my mass transit!), I would have been on call 24/7. I thought about it and realized that my work/life balance was important to me. Much more important than having that much extra pay. It just wasn’t worth it to me. I still don’t make what I would have made if I had taken that job but I’m okay with that.

    Reply
      1. Elle the new fed

        It’s not figurative. Hedge fund managers work all the time so it’s possible they’d need their admin for something anytime of day or night.

        Reply
        1. Whippers

          I’m assuming there’s a very high turnover of staff with such positions? They take the job for a while to earn good money and then burn out.

          There’s something worse to me about being on call 24/7 than just working really long hours.

          Reply
          1. CA Admin

            Depends on the person. I work in private equity, which can also be 24/7. My team is very good about not bothering me on nights/weekends unless it’s super urgent, but there are other EAs who are basically on-call at all times.

            The pay for those positions is pretty great and some people thrive on the stress. We’ve got 20% of the EAs here have been at the firm for over 10 years. Another 30% have been here for over 5 years. That said, it isn’t for everyone–40% have been here under a year and we’ve had a few leave after a year or less recently.

            Reply
          2. doreen

            It depends on the job – I’m on call 24/7 ( as is everyone above me in the hierarchy) but I don’t average even one phone call outside of business hours per week. It’s not that it happens all the time- but when it does I have to answer the phone.

            Reply
  25. AFT123

    You’re looking at this in terms of “worst case scenario”, which is smart, but also consider that things may actually be just as great, maybe even better, than your current position. Also, if you take the new gig and things end up being terrible, you know that 1. you’re marketable and 2. you’ve likely positioned yourself for a better salary at a new job than if you had stayed in the old job. For that much of an increase, I say take the risk, look at it as a possible stepping stone to get you further ahead and potentially launch you to bigger and better things down the road.

    Reply
  26. regina phalange

    I did this exact thing and wound up hating the higher paying job to the point that I was crying in the bathroom. Luckily I am no longer there, and at first the extra money was nice, but it very quickly became no longer worth it because of the environment.

    Reply
  27. YaddaYaddaYadda

    ” I’m sure my husband trusts me, but I don’t know if I could trust my new boss.”

    What is this supposed to mean? Being harassed is not about being trustworthy. Being harassed is not about being married or single. Don’t gaslight yourself.

    Reply
    1. Emmy Rae

      This bothered me too. Harassment is nonconsensual. Affairs are consensual, and if they’re not, they’re not really affairs but crimes.

      Reply
    2. Not So NewReader

      Hopefully, OP means her husband trusts her not to commit manslaughter and end up on charges. (Extreme example to show a point.) Maybe it just means her husband knows she will handle it professionally no matter what. Or maybe they’d have an agreement where she would just walk out if things got out of hand and she is hinting at something like that.

      Reply
  28. Dasha

    I would say go to the interview and feel it out and then listen to what your gut says. You don’t need to rationalized it, just go with your gut. I would consider looking at other jobs as well if you’re conflicted, maybe this new job opportunity isn’t the one but there could be something else out there.

    Reply
  29. kckckc

    Just my opinion, but if you can afford your lifestyle then I’d stay where I was happy. I took a $5k pay cut to GTFO my last job, which was a nightmare. I was only there 9 months and I couldn’t get out of there fast enough (seriously toxic environment). I’m still in a corporate environment, but at least I don’t want to drive my car off of the bridge over the lake on the way to work everyday anymore.

    Reply
  30. K.

    I’m pretty financially motivated – want to pay off my b-school loans as quickly as I can – so a pay increase of that size would at least get me to the interview. And while there, I’d pay a lot of attention to what I saw around me. Do people look happy to be there? I once interviewed with a high-ranking media exec; her assistant looked miserable. (I wasn’t interviewing to be her assistant.) Does the energy in the office feel tense?

    Also, an increase of that size would get me thinking, well, if this company would pay me that, another one might too, so I’d probably start putting out some feelers.

    Reply
  31. Applesauced

    I had this interview earlier today! My current job is fine, not great, but the people are nice and the work is steady. The job I interviewed for is the same kind work (slightly higher end), similar hours, less perks, but could pay $5-10k more. There’s no red flag like the OP but it just doesn’t interest me much…. But more money would be great – wouldn’t change my life, but would help a lot… I’m still debating, but UGH, it’s a tough (though fortunate) position to be in!
    OP – I say go for the interview with an open mind, look at GlassDoor, see if you know anyone who’s worked there, and make a pro-con list after you have as much information as possible.

    Reply
  32. Special Snowflake

    Spot-on advice, AFT123! The only thing I might add to it, however, is only do this if there are no obvious and glaring red flags that come up at the interview stage. It’s also possible that the alleged harasser, knowing his previous conduct is public knowledge, is on his best behaviour. He got lucky before in that he was neither fired nor charged, and he may well be keeping his nose clean.

    Reply
  33. Student

    Talk to them. Ask them the hard questions that you are worried about – ask about the sexual harassment charges and how they plan to handle it. Ask about flexibility. Ask about job duties. Ask about expectations around availability, overtime pay opportunities, benefits, vacation time, retirement benefits, anything that might impact your decision.

    Judge the job after you get that data, not beforehand based on internet research and vague suppositions about corporate work. Sure, some corporate work expects people to work very long hours. Some corporations don’t do that, or don’t expect that of your position, or compensate extra for it with overtime opportunities. You have completely valid concerns. You have a set of well-thought-out personal priorities. You don’t have enough data to make a decision yet, and you aren’t going to get that data from this comment thread. You are not required to accept an offer if they make one.

    It’s a huge bump in salary, which has immediate and long-term impact on you and your family. If the job is reasonable, it could be a great opportunity for you – save up for retirement, take more vacations, save up for kids’ college funds, pay off a loan, enjoy meals out more often, spend more on your favorite hobby, whatever. If the job is everything you fear, then it’s clearly not a good fit for you.

    Reply
  34. Doriana Gray

    I have to admit – if I was offered this job right now at the $65k starting salary, with all the crazy you mentioned brought to my attention, I’d pause and seriously consider it. But only for a second. Yes, I have a ton of student loans, and I live downtown in a major(ish) city where the rent for my little shoebox is ridiculous, and I have medical bills out the wazoo again; however, and I speak from experience here, no amount of money is worth putting up with severe dysfunction. Sooner or later the job will start to wear on you and your little minor health problem will balloon into a major one.

    I’m in a pretty well-paid position right now, but working in a toxic environment, and the stress of it has compounded my issues with celiac disease to the point where my hair is constantly falling out, I can’t eat or sleep most days, and I’ve lost a ton of weight. I’d go back to my barely above minimum wage job at the library if I could. Yes, I’d struggle with all of my bills, but at least I’d be sane and healthy. You can’t put a price on that.

    Think long and hard about this before you accept the offer. Money’s nice (and Lord knows I could use more of it), but it’s not worth killing yourself for.

    Reply
  35. Just Visiting

    There was a recent study that said happiness plateaus after 42k. The extra money might not be worth as much as all that.

    Reply
      1. Jerzy

        Can I just ask, what is up with Alaska? Is it really that expensive to live there? As someone who (obviously) lives in New Jersey which has a ridiculously high cost of living, this has me quite perplexed.

        Reply
        1. Argh!

          Yes, it is expensive to live there. Consider your heating bill then multiply by 10. Then consider driving 100 miles in NJ vs having to hire a plane to take you the same distance in Alaska.

          Reply
        2. BuildMeUp

          I think it’s sort of like Hawaii, in that many more things have to be imported/flown a longer distance, which raises the cost to transport things there, which raises the price.

          Reply
        3. Ann O'Nemity

          Alaska is in the top five states with the highest costs of living. Imported food, especially fresh food, is really expensive. I’m talking like $20+ for a watermelon.

          Reply
          1. Not Myself

            Better than Japan, though. I saw watermelons for $100+ there, and bunches of grapes for ~9, but oh man, that produce was amazing.

            Reply
        4. The IT Manager

          I think even the basics cost a lot more there because of the transportation / logistics. Additionally travel / flying home to see family is more expensive too. It costs more to live even a sparse/spare life.

          Reply
  36. voyager1

    OP,
    Honestly, you are putting the cart before the horse. You have to even get an offer before any of the money or harrassment comes to your choice. If it were me go and interview. They may not like you and you won’t have to worry about making a decision.

    But what you are being paid now does seem a little low I would think.

    Reply
  37. oldfashionedlovesong

    On the one hand, the idea that “money isn’t everything” is kind of hard to subscribe to if you’ve ever had less money than you’d need to live comfortably. I accepted the job I have currently, that pays way more than the market rate for my position that I’d see most places in this country, at a time when I was right out of grad school, literally earning only enough to pay rent, transit, and food. I was not struggling, and I would never pretend that I was (because I was young, had parental support/insurance, and no debt)– but it was not a sustainable life. So being offered this job and a chance to earn and save quite a bit of money was appealing to the point of being almost undue coercion.

    Turns out, though, that this job SUCKS. It’s high pressure, high stress, a toxic work environment, and in a place I hate. Literally the only things good about it are the paycheck and the fact that it’s a significant step in my career. And the chronic pain issue I’ve had for years? Well the stress of work has made it exponentially worse. There are often workdays so stressful that I go home, take a narcotic painkiller that I never used to have to resort to, and get into bed at 7 PM knowing full well I’ll probably be unable to go to work the next day because the pain episode will be in full swing. I’m in my mid-20s and I shouldn’t be living like this.

    So to balance “money isn’t everything” with “money isn’t everything, but it can buy a lot of things”… I think at some point the law of diminishing returns kicks in. If you’re able to sustain a relatively happy, relatively healthy life on the money you’re making now, I’d really consider whether the extra income would make up for the potentially toxic work environment and the toll it might take on your existing health issues.

    Reply
  38. Jerzy

    As someone who tends to have stress bypass all conscious thought and show up as migraines, back problems, digestive issues, etc., I know what a difference a job can make in how I feel. My last job was great, and although the pay was mediocre, I loved the people I worked with and the work I was doing. For about a 50% pay raise I moved to a corporate job (from a government one), which also included a MUCH shorter commute.

    Despite the higher pay and shorter commute, I made the decision to make this move because it allows me flexibility to work from home now and then, the people I work with are mostly very nice, and I’m doing much the same work I had been doing before, just now as a contractor. The increase in stress is there, as it always is in private vs. public work, but nothing unmanageable.

    Do what’s right for you, but don’t make a decision purely based on money, especially if you’re very sensitive to high-stress environments. Your health isn’t worth giving up. Good luck!

    Reply
    1. TootsNYC

      The increase in stress is there, as it always is in private vs. public work, but nothing unmanageable.

      But is this really true? Is there not a lot of stress in nonprofits? Where there’s always more work, and never enough money, and the stakes are people’s actual lives?

      Reply
      1. NotMe

        It really depends on the nonprofit and the company. In my experience, Fortune 500 companies have a lot more stress then higher education.

        Reply
  39. GOG11

    I don’t have advice to add, but my boyfriend went through a similar process/choice earlier this year. He took a significantly higher paying job than the one he had but loved and he ended up going back to his old job (luckily for him they hadn’t filled the position). His situation was similar to yours – he worked at a place that was fairly low stress/low stakes on a team he loved that offered a lot of flexibility. He left for a job that paid him nearly twice as much but it was a lot higher stress and he hated it (it was very demanding and he had to be on call 24/7 – 4 am wake up calls and 12 hour days are not his thing).

    In theory, the money was nice (neither of us make very much), but we couldn’t use it buy back or make up for what it was taking out of him so in the end it really wasn’t worth it.

    Best of luck to you, OP!

    Reply
  40. yokozbornak

    There is a third option…look for another job with higher pay. If this job will pay you 65K, others probably will to and they want have all the issues attached with them.

    Reply
    1. Ann O'Nemity

      +1 to exploring additional options. Hopefully there’s something in the middle between high pay / high stress and low pay / low stress.

      Reply
  41. anon attorney

    Be careful of setting up a false dichotomy here. High pressure environments aren’t always stressful – boring jobs can be just as bad. Think through what specifically causes you stress (lack of control? Competing demands? Feeling unable to do tasks? Unsupportive teams?) then try to analyse the role and company from that viewpoint.

    Sometimes think we assume a well paid job must be harder or more unpleasant because we don’t deserve something nice (good pay) without being punished in some other way. Not always so. By all means check it out thoroughly but judge it on its merits – plus, these are not the only two jobs in the world either.

    Says the person who took a 50% paycut to retrain in a much harder field with more responsibility and has never looked back!

    Reply
  42. ashleyh

    I worked at a non-profit right out of college – I wouldn’t say I was terribly underpaid, but…I was underpaid. I could get by (living with my parents and then, my boyfriend, who paid more than half our bills), but I LOVED my job. I believed in what we as an organization did, I believed that my job helped fulfill that mission (I worked in HR/recruiting) and loved that everyone I worked with felt similarly – we were all passionate about our employer.

    I ended up having to resign when my boyfriend-turned-fiance got a promotion that required a relocation. I got a new job, which I was unhappy at, and since have found a different job, which I enjoy and I am now paid about 45% more than when I left nonprofit job (2 years ago). But….I still haven’t found that passion for my employer that I had at that first job.

    I am happy now, let me be clear, but I doubt I’ll ever feel as fulfilled as I did at the nonprofit. I can pay my student loans off faster, can live in a nicer place, and go on vacations more…but for me, personally, that drive and happiness was worth more than money.

    Reply
  43. Harriet Vane Wimsey

    I’m a little taken aback by the LW saying that “her partner trusts her” when it has to do with sexual harassment. That is so blaming the victim. If I’m sexually harassed, it has nothing to do if I want to be harassed or not.

    Reply
    1. Anon for this

      Yeah, I noticed the same thing… its almost like the “But what were you wearing when you were raped argument”

      Reply
      1. Student

        Let’s not pick the OP apart for this, please.

        It’s an unfortunate mentality, but it’s also incredibly common. Many women’s husbands DO blame them if they get sexually harassed or raped. Is it wrong? Yes. Does that make it disappear? No.

        Reply
  44. Susan the BA

    I think it’s worth it to consider what the additional money could buy you in terms of stress *relief*. Only you know what your sources of stress and stress relief are, but some that come to mind for me are:

    – Could you hire a cleaning, laundry, or yardwork service so you and your husband can spend more time on relaxation and self-care?
    – Could extra money improve your commute, whether by allowing you to live somewhere else, allowing you to take a cab when the weather is crappy for public transit, or letting you buy a car?
    – Could extra money help you visit friends, family, or other members of Team You more often (or bring them to you)?
    – Is there anything related to your medical condition that could be helped by extra funds?
    – Would you get a sense of accomplishment/pride/fulfillment from having extra funds to give back to [whatever your nonprofit does] or elsewhere?
    – Would having $X in the bank for emergencies give you peace of mind that you just don’t have now?

    Again, these answers will be super personal to you and there’s no right/wrong or a perfect calculus for pros and cons – just something that may help focus your thoughts.

    Reply
  45. Anon for this

    What I would like to know is… wouldn’t it be lovely if we could get to a point in interviews where the applicant could just be honest and say “I’m excited about this opportunity, but have discovered “XYZ” about “BOSS” and was wondering on how the company is handling this employee/situation.” That way she can know if they are actually a socially/ethically aware company and plan her life from there… but no, everybody has to be all secretive and scared to discuss the truth. My last boss was fired from his previous company due to sexual harassment and it wasn’t even two months from his first day before he started exhibiting that behaviour again… Sexual harassment isn’t something you need to “learn to get better” from… it just shouldn’t happen.

    Reply
    1. Shannon

      One of my husband’s bosses was transferred from one location to another location because the boss made racist remarks and the company had to settle. The location the boss was transferred from had something like a 20% African American work force. The location the boss was transferred to had something like an 80% African American work force. The company had to transfer the boss back to his original location once the workers at the second location started googling “Boss XYZ lawsuit.” No one would take him seriously once that got out.

      Reply
  46. Not So NewReader

    I think you can do better than this, OP, just my opinion, though. Others have written persuasively on increased health issues/costs, emotional turmoil, and so on.

    Think very hard. Is there a way to make some changes financially without resorting to taking a job like this? My husband died years ago and immediately after that I made a commitment to keep looking for ways to reduce my bills. I am absolutely amazed that after years of doing this, I can STILL find new ways to reduce my living expenses.

    Have you been looking at other jobs or did this one catch your eye because of the pay increase? It helps to have a comparative basis. And it helps to know there are more fish in the sea.

    Very seldom is making a move just for pay a great idea. This is because as the years roll by somehow there is a tendency to spend to the level of our new pay rate and we are stuck in the same pit but it’s a bigger pit.

    I would be less of a Debbie Downer if I read that you thought the new place would be a great experience or you would get new challenges that you were happy about, or there were opportunities for promotions or lateral moves. But that is not what your letter says. Your letter basically talks about how great your current job is and how many yellow/red flags this new job has. People tend to tell us the key parts that are important to them. I believe that is what you have done here. And I have to wonder if you have actually answered your own question.

    Punchline: When we have a good thing going on, we absolutely MUST make sure that we will get something better if we let go of that good thing. We owe it to ourselves. If you are not absolutely sure, then don’t change jobs.

    Reply
  47. No Time Like The Present

    I think I’m quite a bit older than you, but I went from a couple of years of barely getting by and a miserably failing job search to the best-paid job I’ve ever had – and with it comes extremely long hours, long commute, and a whole lot of stress. My health has suffered and everything else that matters to me has taken a distant back seat because there’s no time for anything but work. But I’ve regained some financial footing and learned a lot and met some great colleagues. I’m trying to gut it out for a year and do as well as I can at it, and I just do it a day or a week at a time. I was unemployed and worried no one would ever hire me again, so it was a risk I felt I had to take, but it’s a trade-off every single day, and the price is high. So… maybe yes? Maybe no, and there’s no shame in that. Quality of life is a really important thing.

    Reply
  48. Dee

    I’m alarmed that the OP said “i’m sure my husband trusts me”. Sexual harrassment is not the same as having an affair which is what that sentence implies.

    Reply
  49. Unanimously Anonymous

    While the job duties are very similar, I did some research on the corporation and there has been recent management changeover, several key employees left, and one of the new executives had several sexual harassment allegations at a previous company. The allegations were settled privately. This would be the executive I would report to.

    Honestly, the first thing that popped into my mind when I read this part was “more red flags than Lenin’s tomb on May Day.”

    Reply
  50. Temperance

    As a person who grew up lower class/blue collar, it will always shock and amaze me that people would pass up a job offer making $25k/year more than their current salary. Just another difference between myself and those who grew up in middle class homes.

    Reply
    1. NotMe

      As someone who grew up poor – as in not-enough-money-for-food-sometimes poor, I totally agree. I am very fortunate now and make a very comfortable living. While I don’t need to worry about money, I would take just about any job for a 50% increase in pay.

      Reply
  51. SoAnon

    I sort of fall on both sides of this.

    My parents divorced when I was ten, creating a seriously tight financial situation for both sides. I definitely grew up thinking that I would do anything for additional money.

    I was working for a small institution in NYC, making about 45K a year when my ex got transferred to the midwest for their job. My work in NYC offered me a remote position for the same amount of money as a consultant, which I quite happily took.

    When that position ended (grant funded), I was encouraged to apply for a job that pays 75K (plus I adjunct teach, so I end up making about 82K/year). I jumped at the chance to make more money, and took the job. 2 years into the job, the stress is killing me. One of my co-workers (at my same level, we are supposed to share the load), doesn’t do any work except for that which interests her (which is travelling), our manager is absentee (leaving me to discipline my co-worker), and I end up making all of the major decisions, which is an issue because I lack the subject specific knowledge to make said decisions.

    If I were given the chance again to make more money with more responsibility, I would be cautious, seriously evaluating my co-workers and the environment before pulling the trigger. I would say that if I had a better co-worker, I would probably enjoy this job far better. Also, if I had a better manager . . . .

    Reply
  52. Henry

    One caveat – please take Alison’s warning about “don’t get fixated on the salary” seriously! My own case in point: in a previous position, the company had stagnated; I started looking for new opportunities and took one of them, but I’d very much been wearing rose-tinted glasses at the interview. The job was not what I thought I was going in to, and a bit more questioning (and less optimistic interpretation of the answers) would have let me find that out.

    (On the plus side, I got out within my trial period there, to a job with former colleagues/managers and a much better environment!)

    Reply
  53. mCsquared

    I can attest to transitioning from nonprofit to corporate. Like many others have already pointed out, corporate does tend to pay better but it comes with higher stress. I took the corporate job because of the salary increase, shorter commute, and as a career builder.

    This is the worst job I have had to date (I’m in my mid 20s). In hindsight, I was lied to bc my interviewers had told me there’s great work life balance. Your day would be 9-5:30, but when I actually started the job, the job is more like 9-6:45/7 constantly. I see my colleagues all leaving at a decent time 5:30-5:45, but my boss constantly expects me to stay until 7 by calling me when I am leaving the office at 6 and making me go over my assignments with her. It is just exhausting.

    I am miserable and getting myself to that job everyday takes a tremendous amount of energy and will power. I constantly think about if I made the mistake of being so fixated on the salary bump and should have been more prudent about the consequences of taking a high stress job in a toxic environment.

    My advice is to stay at your current job and talk to your boss about a salary increase. If you don’t like his/her response then keep job searching.

    Reply

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