When To Move On From This Job — If By Choice, It’s a Numbers Game

Due to stock vesting, the income for this job goes from high to something I could replace fairly easily within a year. I am still unclear if I received a reduction in pay this year (or any sort of cost of living raise) as such changes were supposed to take effect this pay period and I didn’t see a change in my base pay. Since I’m on maternity leave, it’s possible the change doesn’t go into effect until after I return either way (no one has told me if there will be any changes to my pay yet, so it would be strange for them to change it either way without notifying me — however, last year even when I was placed on a PIP I got a small cost of living raise — so not even getting that is pretty telling… I need to start packing my bags.)

While I’m tempted to pack my bags today and never look back (I’ve had a few recruiter calls that are promising, but I’ve opted to not take them any further.) I’m either going to stay in my field and be really strategic and picky in my job search OR I’m going to change careers (same industry, different department.) The career change, based on some preliminary research, will be a major income cut, no matter how you slice it. I’m torn on this because on one hand, my heart is in that field and I think I might actually be excited to go to work when I wake up in the morning.) But this field — it sounds like — will pay entry-level around 70k-125k. While 70k is a non starter, if I could make 125k… I don’t know… it might be worth it for a year or two as I build up my experience in the field. The bigger issue is the ceiling of income in that field seems lower than where I am now. But I’m not exactly thriving where I am now. So there’s the value of perhaps being in a job where I’m not worried about getting fired all the time (and then getting fired all the time.) Trade offs.

In order to determine when I should leave my current job (and for how much $ I should consider leaving for if I’m staying in my current field) I’ve calculated my estimated income for the next 12 month period at 5 different times throughout the year.  This showcases both how ridiculously strong my earning power is at the moment and how quickly it goes down to still-good but “recoupable” l levels if I were to move to a new company. The challenge are retaining employment through the high income earning periods and then find a job to replace it that provides high income earning potential (a new sizable stock grant) or make the leap to the new field and take the massive paycut and trust it will work out (if anyone will even hire me for that field… I’m starting an online certificate program in it and will see how that goes.)

Income potential 12 month period starting following dates:

At current stock value:

  • April 1: $702k
  • July 1: $599k
  • Oct 1: $425k
  • Jan 1: $299k
  • April 1: $251k

At optimistic (highest analyst estimate) stock value:

  • April 1: $937k
  • July 1: $759k
  • Oct 1: $511k
  • Jan 1: $345k
  • April 1: $287k

At pessimistic (lowest analyst estimate) stock value:

  • April 1: $428k
  • July 1: $411k
  • Oct 1: $325k
  • Jan 1: $246k
  • April 1: $208k

The above tells me I would be a fool to leave prior to Jan 1 in all but the absolute worst company performance scenarios (and even then it’s unlikely I’ll replace my potential 12 month income prior to that date.) I think the actual income will be closer to the current stock value as it’s unlikely it will go up fast enough to hit the analyst target within my actual earning period, but I also think it won’t drop all the way down to the lowest analyst estimates.

But the absolute best my 12-month income will be worth as of April 1, 2022 (assuming I am not getting any stock refreshes or raises, which I assume to be true) is ~$287,000. Which is still a very good income(!) but it is definitely in a range where at least looking for a new role makes sense. It’s an extremely high 12 month income for the role I’m in now at work (after my demotion) so I’m not complaining about it by any means, it’s just completely unrealistic to think I will ever be able to replace my previous income in this very limited role that is unfortunately not respected in my industry. I’m lucky in that my company likely won’t go out of their way right now to reduce my pay after I just had a baby — but they also won’t ever go out of their way to increase my pay. My days are numbered at worst and my income potential has a sharp ceiling at best. The absolute most I can earn in 2023 would be $248k (no raises or refreshes) and in 2024, it would be $213k — whereas if I go into a new role in a public company I’ll get a new larger grant that can possibly increase in value. My company is doing a favor by not giving me any raises or refreshes at this point… it helps the math tell me what to do.

That said, this year has a lot of good 12-month earning periods. My expected quarterly income is as follows for the next 5 quarters:

  • Q2 – $191k ( 103k-265k)
  • Q3 – $219k ( 131k-293k)
  • Q4 – $191k ( 103k-265k)
  • Q1 – $101k ( 88k-113k)
  • Q2 – $51.4k ( 38k-62k)

This also helps me figure out if I can potentially obtain a signing bonus to make up for any lost income, where it would make sense to move to a new role.

The above also shows that if I can move into a new field, it may not look like such a horrible comparison if I base this off next year’s Q2 income (as it will take me another year to have the potential to earn a bonus anyway and my stock is not increasing.)

The big question is — how do I stay employed for the rest of the year? I’m going to try to focus on taking it one quarter at a time, and celebrating earning the quarterly income. I have to remind myself that my husband earns $100k a year and I very well may earn $200k in 3 months if I can manage to retain employment for those 3 months. Even if I were to get fired at that point, I will have made over  $450k this year, give or take, as of July 1. This alone should support my leaving my company and taking 6 months to gain experience in a. new field and figure out my life. But then the tradeoff would be losing out on another $300k or so, which also seems like a really dumb thing to do. At what point in the future of time will I ever have the opportunity to earn this much in such as short period of time?

I just assume my new boss is earning less than I am overall, and that’s not going to set anyone up for success here. He may be earning more but it’s unlikely given he came in at a later date. He may have gotten substantial stock refreshes since he’s a company star but even then I bet we’re around a similar income this year. Maybe he will realize my income will be dropping substantially soon and won’t hold that against me, but he may just look at everything I do in the lens of what I’m earning now (due to stock appreciation) and in that case I would agree I’m not worth what I’m earning.

…I don’t know how the company looks at that because it’s not my fault the stock has appreciated so much… but on my annual performance review they note my expected annual compensation and that’s based on the stock value at the end of last year. That’s a big number (even bigger than what it actually is now because all tech stocks dropped a lot since then.) In any case, I just want to get myself out of all of this and get a job where I can add value. Which means I should probably change fields. It’s tough when recruiters are calling me left and right for senior-level roles in my field, all that pay in the $250k range (and maybe I could negotiate more.) Do I really set myself back years and take a job that pays $100k-$125k to try something new at 38? And why does my husband get to earn $100k yet I can’t do this… even if it will make me happy? I guess he doesn’t believe anything can make me happy… and that might be true. But I have high hopes for this new field. I think it will at least work the right part of my brain vs the one that makes me constantly frustrated and unsure how to do good work. Hmph.

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