Oct 20, 2016 11:22:00 AM / by Cassandra Czech & Karen Relucio

When it comes to thinking about a job change, it can be easy to be swayed by an increase in pay. The promise of a better salary can make our heads spin at the thought of paying off debt, a nicer house, or a more luxurious vacation. However, switching jobs, or staying at a job, based on pay alone can be a big mistake. There are many other factors to consider in your career and most experienced employees will agree: A bigger paycheck should not necessarily be the biggest motivation for you. Listed below are things to consider to ensure that the next job you take will feed more than just your pocketbook.

  1. Passion

Imagine having to wake up every morning to do work that you dislike or maybe even hate. By basing your next career decision on salary alone, you may just find yourself in this position. Remember, once the initial excitement of bringing in a bigger paycheck wears off, you may find yourself spending your weekends dreading Mondays. The next time you’re faced with a career decision, consider the importance of finding employment that aligns with what you are passionate about. By doing something you actually enjoy, your will feel more dedicated and engaged at work. And you will likely no longer find yourself counting down the minutes until 5 pm.

Once you have decided what you are most passionate about, look at your experience in the field and see how it relates to available jobs. If you find the job that you want, but you don’t have the necessary experience, consider looking for a similar role within the company that could lead to your dream job. Or take steps in your free time to bring your skills and experience up to par with the positions that are available in your field of interest. You can also align your interests and career by working for an organization whose purpose aligns with your passion. For example, if you love art but you do not know how to paint, consider working for an art museum.

  1. Leadership

The right manager can make all the difference when it comes to job satisfaction and opportunities. By considering the management style at a new company, you may be saving yourself from a lot of headache down the road. Remember: a healthy salary does not equal a healthy work environment. To make sure you are getting the most out of your job, you’ll want to have a trustworthy manager. A good leader has the best interests for their employees, and can positively influence the way their employees behave and perform.

One way to determine if would have a good working relationship with your manager is to ask questions during an interview, such as, “How do your most successful employees approach you when they have questions?” or “What is your leadership style?” These questions will open a dialogue to understand if the manager’s style will be compatible with yours. Also, pay attention to online reviews of the company and what past and current employees say about the culture. If the only positive thing people have to say about a company is good pay, there may be trouble lurking.

  1. Career Advancement

Many people make the big mistake of not looking beyond their new role when making a job change. Then, with no room advancement, they end up being trapped in that role for a long time. According to, the main reason people leave their jobs is lack of advancement. The first place to start when determining career progression is to look at where you are today. Keep in mind that career movement is a process. An employer is not going to be able to move you from an entry level job to a manager’s job in one step. Focus on a series of incremental steps where you can learn and grow. To determine if the job you are interested in offers career progression ask about it in the interview. Or look at the company’s website – you will learn a lot about the company if you view the kinds of jobs they are seeking to fill. You can also ask what is the company’s policy is on internal job moves. Good organizations will have a strong policy to promote from within. Many also offer continuing education assistance and paid certifications, which can be extremely valuable in the long run. Look at your career as a way to be paid for professional learning and growth, not just as a paycheck.

  1. Health and Happiness

Success and happiness are intrinsic life goals. Focusing on finding true happiness will give you a healthier, more positive outlook on life. A hefty paycheck will not do much for helping you unwind on a nice vacation if the number of vacation days offered are meager, or you spend it planning how you will make up for lost time when you return. Work-life balance is key when it comes to job satisfaction. Look at how your next role will affect your ability to spend time with your family, and do things that are important to you. Are the hours reasonable? Are management and co-workers supportive of taking time off? Also, don’t forget about other perks that companies offer, financial or otherwise: Does the company that offers a lower salary have better health benefits, a generous vacation package, or on-site child-care? Finally, take a look at the stress level expected with the new role. A hard day at work should generally leave you feeling satisfied, not stressed. In the end, money can’t buy happiness.

  1. Sustainability

Another critical component of a job change is to ask yourself: How sustainable is this position? While the company may be offering a very high salary for the position, is it a role that has long-term potential? For example, if you are working in a skill set that is in decline, you might temporarily be paid more, but your long-term career development could be in jeopardy. By looking at the big picture and considering where you want to be in the future, you may be better off rejecting a short-term, higher-paying role.

  1. Marketability

In the past, it was considered a big asset to hold onto the same job until you retired and your success reflected your company’s brand. Today, however, individuals make a brand for themselves and, with the right brand, have companies competing for them. If you consider money as the sole factor when making a career decision, you could end up pricing yourself out of the market. By solely considering the monetary benefits or a role and disregarding what it means for your long-term career plans, you may lose desirability to other employers by lack of enthusiasm for your job, no direction in your career, or a lack of professional advancement.  By choosing roles that lend to improving your brand, you will find yourself on a much more sustainable career track, and make yourself much more marketable to potential employers.

Although compensation is a key component to consider when switching jobs, make sure to consider what you want from every angle. By putting too much weight on salary, you may end up with a less profitable position down the road. After all, can you really put a price tag on enthusiasm for your work, feeling valued by your company, or a sustainable career path?  Consider the long-term impact that your decisions today will have on your over-all career. Remember: Your career is a lot like your investment portfolio – it takes incremental investment and time to build wealth. Don’t let a few bad decisions destroy what took years to build. Instead take time to reflect on the steps that lead to a lifetime of personal reward.

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