Is That Huge Raise Really Worth It? Dan Hurley Didn’t Think So — Insider Career Strategies Resume Writing & Career Coaching

You may have seen the internet explode recently when news broke that Dan Hurley, the head men’s basketball coach of the NCAA champion University of Connecticut (UCONN) Huskies, turned down a five-year $70 million ($14 million a year) head coaching position with the Los Angeles Lakers, arguably the crown jewel franchise of the NBA.

The general reaction has been illuminating, with many lay critics saying Hurley must be crazy to turn down that kind of money. To keep things in perspective, the Lakers’ offer represents a substantial raise. UCONN pays him $5.2 million a year, so he’s leaving roughly $9 million a year on the table – a figure that already puts him in the top 0.1% of income earners in the United States so it’s easy for us to shrug off Dan’s decision to stay in Hartford. What does it matter? He’s already rich! The fact remains that Dan turned down a significant pay raise and there are good reasons for it.

So, let’s bring the numbers down to something more relatable to those of us who earn more average salaries. Let’s say you make $75,000 a year and, like Dan Hurley, you are offered a 180% increase in base salary. That’s a total of $210,000! That’s a lot of creme-filled doughnuts. What reasons could possibly exist for anyone to say “no” to an extra $135,000? Let’s look at the factors to consider with the much bigger paycheck:

  • Work-Life Balance: If someone gives you a $135,000 raise, accepting this kind of offer will be life-altering in more ways than money, most notably potentially cutting into your work-life balance. If you don’t want your company calling you during the middle of your daughter’s wedding demanding you get on a conference call, you may want to reconsider accepting the 180% pay increase.

  • Work Culture: Money is, without question, great, but the work culture of your new employer will impact your life in many more ways than the money. The exasperated exclamation, “They don’t pay me enough to deal with this kind of [fill in the blank]” has been uttered more than once in the workplace, but the reality is that work dread does not take cash, stock options, or equity. If your work culture is a breeding ground of toxic despair you will inevitably reach a point where you might accept pocket lint as payment if you can just get out. Without knowing the full story, it’s okay to wonder if Dan Hurley had concerns about the current work culture of the Los Angeles Lakers (without naming names of course).

  • The Nature of Your Work: Some professions exist for one purpose – to make money. People who are the happiest with their careers and life, however, are people whose work has a purpose. Back to Dan Hurley. Working with college students, many of whom will not compete in organized sports after college, has a purpose beyond winning back-to-back NCAA titles. You are more than a coach. You are a mentor and a friend.  Coaching professional athletes has only one purpose – winning a championship to make the billionaire owner happy and keep the advertising and merchandising dollars flowing. Still great, but not the same.

  • Your Co-Workers: Different work cultures and purposes mean different people. There are very different workplace environments, and they value different things. Do your values align enough with your coworkers to “keep up with the Joneses?” when end-of-year evaluations take place and you’re ranked and rated against them? The internal competition and backbiting resulting from higher salaries can be fierce.

  • Relocation: The East Coast and the West Coast are practically different countries. Small towns are different than big cities. Hartford and Los Angeles are as different as Mars and Venus. Your pay raise will not go as far if you’re relocating to a more expensive area or city, whereas your standard of living may be higher in the market which requires you to earn less money to sustain it. Relocating also means leaving family and friends and, if applicable, uprooting your children and making them start over in a new place and school. You may move from a low-traffic area to one where you’re going to spend two hours in your car every day so you can afford to buy a house.

These are some factors you may want to consider when weighing the totality of a mind-blowing job offer. That isn’t to say that Goldilocks scenarios don’t exist, and you can end up with a dream life and salary, which is definitely possible. It’s just important to remember that money isn’t everything – and Dan Hurley proves it.

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