Weighing a Job Offer? Look Beyond the Salary

by Sophia Bera on July 27, 2016

You’ve been job hunting for months, and you finally receive a job offer. You’re desperate to get out of your current job, and the salary they’re offering looks decent enough, so you should just go for it, right?

Eh, maybe.

If you think of a job offer as a pie, the salary is but a mere slice or two. There are so many other factors to consider than would have a real effect on your happiness at this new job.

Money is important, of course, but it’s part of a bigger picture. If you ignore everything else in pursuit of a certain salary, you might end up more miserable than you were at the job you left.

What’s Your New Salary?

Obviously you don’t want to ignore their salary offer. But is what they’re willing to pay you enough? Hopefully before you interviewed, you did some research on salary ranges for your field and geographic area (if not, tools like Glassdoor can help).

Factor in cost of living in your area, or in the cities you’re willing to move to. A $50,000 offer is generous in some cities — and laughable in others.

If you are able to negotiate a higher salary, that could have a huge long term effect on your earnings over the long term. Not negotiating a $5,000 increase could end up costing you more than $600,000 over a 40 year career. The best to negotiate is when you accept a position at a new company.

What Are the Other Incentives?

If the offered salary is lower than you would have liked, are there other benefits that make up for it? Maybe an annual bonus would sweeten the deal. Does the company pay those? What are the bonus amounts based on? Are there years where no bonuses are offered?

Some companies offer their employees shares in the company stock, or have a profit sharing system where employees get a portion of the profits. And find out if the company offers a retirement plan — if they match your contributions to a retirement account, that’s a great benefit too!

How Does It Affect Your Quality of Life?

Never underestimate how soul-sucking a long commute or regular 12-hour workdays can be. What will you have to give up to make time for those long days? Will you have the flexibility to deal with doctors appointments, home repairs, or a sick kid needing to be picked up early from school?

Find out how much paid time off the company offers. Are employees encouraged to use it, or made to feel guilty for going on vacation or calling in sick?

Commute time has one of the biggest effects on your level of happiness. Some studies even estimate that a shorter commute is equivalent to a $40,000 raise! Before you agree to a new job, really consider how much time you’ll be in the car and how that could affect other areas of your life.

Everyone needs time to attend to their personal life, and if you’re spending half the day at work (or getting to and from work), that’s less time you have to tend to yourself, family, friends, and hobbies.

What About Company Benefits?

Benefits are part of your overall compensation package. When you don’t take advantage of them, you’re leaving money on the table. One of the most powerful ways I can help save my clients money is by helping them maximize their company benefits. (Think you might want to become a client? Apply here.)

Read all the information you get about your options for health, disability, and life insurance. Would you be eligible for corporate discounts at area companies? Would you be able to go back to school on the company’s dime? Would your commuting costs, like parking or train fare, be subsidized? Are new parents granted paid or unpaid parental leave?

Do You Like the Company Culture?

It’s important to find a job for a company that fits who you are and how you do your best work. Maybe you need structure and strict scheduling to be productive. Maybe you like to wear suits!

You might be more casual, preferring a relaxed dress code and a results-oriented environment with less structure. Or maybe you’re like me — you just want to work from your couch in yoga pants. There are options for everyone!

But if you try to make it work in a company whose culture totally mismatches your own, you’re not going to enjoy your job. Look for opportunities that fit your style. In the long run, you’ll be happier and more successful.

You might also enjoy reading: