Is that new job offer that great? Think it over before quitting

If you are getting calls from recruiters and headhunters these days, you're not alone.

The U.S. Department of Labor projects that positions for executives and senior-level managers will grow 6 percent annually through 2024. So many executives are hungry to cash in on job offers that provide larger salaries and bonuses and other perks. But is the new job right for you?

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I often meet with clients who are weighing new job offers and provide them with a checklist to review before making any move. The list includes a number of details about their financial compensation, but also includes the potential for growth, job satisfaction and work-life balance.

Before you jump into the interview process, here are items to help you not only negotiate a better pay package but also evaluate the job you may be leaving behind.

  • Salary: Is the increase in compensation really significant? If it's one where you need to relocate out of state, look closely at the cost of housing and cost of living. If one or both is 15 percent higher, a 15 percent pay raise at the new company isn't much of a bump up.
  • Bonus: A large year-end bonus depends on the company's performance and your ability to meet certain benchmarks. Find out if the new benchmarks are more difficult to achieve than your current bonus structure.

    In addition, ask the recruiter how often other executives in similar positions at the new company have achieved the maximum bonus in the past five years. To provide some security, you can often negotiate a guaranteed first-year bonus with the new firm, as well as a signing bonus. Finally, understand how bonuses are paid—is it a combination of cash and stock, and is any stock deferred until a future date?
  • 401(k) plans: Find out the company match and if profit sharing is offered. Also, make certain to review and understand the investment choices in your plan. While this piece of the offer probably isn't a "make or break" decision for taking a new job, it could influence whether you keep your current 401(k) plan where it is or roll it to an individual retirement account versus rolling it into the new company's retirement plan.
  • Stock grants: Calculate the amount you will forfeit if you decide to leave your current job, including unvested stock options or restricted stock grants. Once you determine that amount, negotiate this figure as a sign-on bonus or in additional stock grants at your new company.

    If the new company offers stock awards and you are also eligible for grants at your current job, this can be a huge boon to your future financial well-being. It may be worth taking a small pay cut now for a greater total compensation package, such as stock awards.
"Determine where you stand from a financial independence standpoint. Staying at your current job for two or three more years may mean you have enough money to retire."
  • Deferred compensation: Don't be surprised if this amount is paid in a lump sum when you leave, which means a large tax bill in the current year. If your new job offers a deferred compensation plan, find out if you are immediately eligible and consider deferring a lot of your income to offset the lump-sum payout from your old plan. This can save taxes while still providing you cash to live on throughout the year.
  • Pension: It's rare for companies to offer traditional pension plans these days. If your current employer does and you are close to qualifying, it may be a reason to hang on.

Many times, these important decisions come down to happiness. While finances are important, your happiness is paramount. If you dread going to work and experience an undue amount of stress, consider taking action.

But first, determine where you stand from a financial independence standpoint. Staying at your current job for two or three more years may mean you have enough money to retire, and it may be worth sticking it out a few more years. But if that road is much longer, leaving may be the best move for you.

— By Lisa Brown, partner and wealth advisor at Brightworth