How Much Does Compensation Matter?

By Carolyne Savini

When speaking with both active and passive job seekers, compensation always comes up. We often hear comments like, “Am I being compensated fairly?” or “I won’t leave this job unless it pays $X!”, etc.

Compensation is, of course, important; however, you shouldn’t base your opinion about whether or not a particular opportunity is right for you solely on compensation. Though we all want to make more money, there are other important factors to consider when you are looking to build your career. For example:

Cost of Living – If you’re considering a move to a less expensive market, keep in mind that your dollars will go a lot farther in your new location. Don’t dismiss an offer of, say, $200,000 just because you currently make $250,000 – it’s possible that those $200,000 will go further in your new market than $250,000 does in your current location. In fact, take-home pay can increase 30% or more with swings in cost of living. So, do your research using multiple cost of living calculators before you say no to an opportunity based on that initial salary figure.

New Responsibilities/Change in Career Path – In theory, being given new responsibilities should be seen as a step up in one’s career. However, lateral moves can also have value, especially if they help you to diversify your experience. As a career advisor, I often recommend that people be open to these types of moves. Often, they prevent people from feeling tapped out or hitting a ceiling too early in their career. In these cases, you may not make more in salary on your first day on the job, but the new experience will pay dividends down the road as you continue to build your “well-rounded” career.

Change of environment – This can be anything from a new market to a new organization to a new mentor/boss. A change of environment may not necessarily imply a corresponding change in your responsibilities, but it will certainly offer a new perspective. For example, marketing for a pro team is not the same as marketing for a major brand. Selling sponsorships for one team can be a totally different experience than working for another team in the same role (even one in the same market!) because of the people, assets, culture, etc. at each organization.

So, remember: the dollar figure in your job offer isn’t everything. Sure, it’s important… but make sure you also consider the factors above before deciding if a particular opportunity is right for you.



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