Quit Your Job Or Keep Your Job – How to Decide When a New Job’s Right for You

June 30, 2008

Quitting your job isn’t easy but sometimes it’s the right thing to do.  The problem is, it’s not an easy decision to make.  In fact, a lot of times it’s an easy decision to avoid because you can’t figure out what your best options are.

Quit Your Job or Not – What’s Best for You?
One of the tough things about deciding whether to leave your current job is the many factors that go into a “good” job.  As you’ve probably learned, the grass always seems greener on the other side of the fence. So a new job may sound appealing due to a higher salary or opportunity for career advancement but how does it measure up all around?

One tool I’ve used to help me overcome similar analysis paralysis in the past is something called a weighted criteria model.  This method is a great one to use when making a major decision because it helps you quantify all the different factors (or criteria) that have an impact on your decision.  I’ll walk you through an example of how you can use this decision making tool to determine the best job for you.

Identifying Your Criteria
The first step when making a decision is to come up with a list of things that you’re basing your decision on.  When you’re considering a job change, here are some criteria you might consider:

  • Commute
  • Salary
  • 401k Options
  • Profit Sharing
  • Stock Options
  • Health Benefits
  • Career Advancement
  • Interest in Job
  • Parking
  • Office Environment
  • Hours Worked
  • On Call

Prioritizing Your Criteria
Once you’ve made your list, order it based on which factors are most important to you.  Then assign each criterion a percentage weight, in other words, how important that factor is compared to the other factors.  In my example, I came up with 12 job criteria.  I decided that salary was the most important factor and assigned it a weight of 30%.  That left 70% to split among the remaining 11 criteria, you can see how I ranked them in the example below.

I’m including an image of the finished model for taking a new job, you can refer to it as you read through the description.  I’ll do my best to give a straight forward explanation but, picture == 1000 words.


Rating Each Decision Factor
Once you have your criteria prioritized you come up with a rating scale and assign each decision factor a rating.  To keep things simple I chose 0, 1, and 2 in my example.  I’m comparing my current job against potential Job A and potential Job B. 

The ratings are relative to one another, I gave my current job a score of 1, job B has a lower salary so it gets a 0.  Job B on the other hand has a much higher salary so I give it a score of 2.  You don’t have to give out a 0, 1, and 2 for each factor, if two of the options are pretty much the same you can give them the same score (Ex: Salary for Job A & Job B).

What Does the Weighted Score Mean?
Once each decision factor has a value you multiply the score by the weight you assigned it.  Look at the weighted scores for Salary below:

  • 0.0  – Job A
  • 0.6 – Job B
  • 0.3 – Current Job

Confused yet? Don’t worry, this score will mean more in a second.  If you look at the example, you can see the next step is to add up all the weighted scores for all factors for each job.  The job that has the highest score is the one that is the best fit based on how you prioritized your criteria.

In my example, Job B is pretty close to my current job and Job B has the best score by far.

Why Do I Use This Method?
I find the weighted criteria model useful because it helps you take all the different factors into consideration and allows you to somewhat objectively compare them against one another. When you’re trying to make a big decision that has multiple factors, it’s easy to get one or two major points stuck in your head and let those drive your choice.  This helps you keep your eye on all the different pieces without getting overwhelmed by the decision.

Not only that, it can be a good tool to use for hindsight.  Let’s say I took Job B and absolutely hated it.  I could look back at why I chose Job B and might realize that even though it had:

  • the highest salary
  • most opportunity for career advancement
  • the technologies I was most interested in

I may have been underestimating the importance of things like

  • lack of health benefits
  • long hours
  • having to be on call

I can then tweak the priority of my factors when looking for my next job and help myself make a decision I’m more comfortable with.

Major Decisions Made Simple
You can obviously use this method for any major decision that involves multiple deciding factors, hopefully my description made sense, if you have any questions just leave them in the comments.  Happy job hunting!


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Ben Edwards, the founder of Money Smart Life, saved up enough to buy a Nintendo back when he was 12 years old. When he used the money to buy shares of Wal-Mart stock instead, he knew he wasn't like the other kids... His addiction to personal finance has paid off for his family and now he's helping you to afford the life that you want. Check him out on the web at Google Plus, Twitter and Facebook.

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13 Responses to Quit Your Job Or Keep Your Job – How to Decide When a New Job’s Right for You

  • Susie

    What great advice, you helped a lot in a difficult decison! Thanks
    Me being the analyst I am, I went and did Rose diagrams in excel too – very useful to understand your confusing thoughts – picture really does = 1000 words – or thoughts! Thanks!!

  • Everyday Finance

    Great tool, anyone just jumping at an offer for a 20% raise is potentially making a short-sighted decision and will regret it later.

    Some additional considerations should be that by leaving your current employer, you may forego pension benefits. For instance, if it takes 10 years to vest and you leave in year 8, you may be foregoing a net present value of hundreds of thousands of dollars. You should investigate this further before pulling the trigger. If this is the case, you can use this as additional leverage/data when negotiating with your prospective employer.

  • Connie

    I honestly would never have thought of doing something like this, but it makes a lot of sense.

    >>When you’re trying to make a big decision that has multiple factors, it’s easy to get one or two major points stuck in your head and let those drive your choice.

    This is very true! With any big decision that is what usually happens – you focus on one or two things and don’t weight out the rest of the options. I like this a lot, and I will use it, just to see how it works for me next time I have a big comparison to make.

    I’ll bet I could use it not just to compare benefits of jobs, but also to analyze what kind of job I am doing, vs how long it is taking / what it is costing.

    Good food for thought, thanks.

  • Jet Spyke

    great post, nice one thank. Busby SEO Challenge


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