Salary isn’t everything, and that’s particularly true when evaluating a job offer. Of course everyone wants to earn a good paycheck, but if that’s the only thing you focus on, you may not make that high salary for too long. After all, money isn’t going to guarantee you will love your job or you will move up the corporate ladder, potentially leaving you demoralized and looking for a new job six months later.
“When you look at an offer salary is one component,” says John Sweeney, executive vice president at Fidelity Investments. “There are other intangibles that often come with it.”
According to a new survey of millennial workers, Fidelity found many millennials would take a $7,600 salary cut for a better quality of life. Meanwhile six in ten millennial respondents said improved quality of life is more important than financial benefits. What’s more, only 39 percent of all survey respondents negotiated or attempted to negotiate their job offer.
Weigh the daily grind more than the salary
When it comes to evaluating a job offer, the first thing candidates need to do is consider the daily tasks they will be in charge or, the culture of the company and the employees they will be working with. Often you spend more time at work than you do at home, so who you work with is going to matter a lot.
Your career trajectory within the organization should also be a huge consideration ahead of how much you will get paid. The last thing you want to do is take a job where you hate your coworkers, don’t mesh with the company culture or have no room to advance your career. “You have to think to yourself if money wasn’t an object would I want to do this,” says John Fleischauer, global talent acquisition manager at Halogen Software. “Paychecks, perks and benefits are great but you really need to ask what is in it for me. What do I have to give you to make it a successful relationship?” According to Fleischauer, job seekers have to look at it less as just a job or paycheck and more about a career. That means choosing a job that you feel passionate about whether it’s the subject matter of the job, the environment or vision of the company. Doing that, says Fleischauer, will result in a happier, more productive you instead of just focusing in the salary.
But it doesn’t end there. He says it’s equally important to understand how you’re performance is managed and how much focus is placed on your growth and development. “Leading organizations have made performance management and employee development an ongoing process that’s part of their unique business rhythm,” says Fleischauer. “Candidates should ask about how performance is managed so they can fully understand what type of structure is in place to guide their personal and professional growth.”
Evaluate the total package not just compensation
In a perfect world our job choices would be driven purely on our passions but in the real world a paycheck, health insurance and a way to save for retirement rank high along with job satisfaction. But in order to evaluate the offer you have to look at the total compensation not only the salary. After all the salary may be lower than what you had hoped but there could be a bonus down the line, great healthcare, dental and vision and a 401k with a company match, all of which increases the value of your offer. You also have to make sure the job will help you reach your long term goals, which can be more valuable than a hefty salary right out of the gate. Let’s say you earned a degree in accounting and are facing two job offers. One is $10,000 more but you will be working in area of accounting where there is little room for growth. The other job may be less but if it can propel your career in the future. The latter offer is going to be worth more than that extra $10,000. “You want to work for the company that helps the rest of your career,” says Tony Lee, vice president of editorial at The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). “If the job works you’ll get the money.”
Knowing where to negotiate is the key to success
At the end of the day any job offer is going to be a negotiation. But understanding where there’s room to negotiate and where there isn’t can go a long way in making sure both sides are happy. Take the 401k for example. According to Fidelity’s Sweeney, it’s going to be hard to get the company to overhaul their 401 (K) because you don’t like the investment options but that same company may have more flexibility when it comes to other perks like flextime, bonuses, extra vacation days and training to name a few. “Those intangibles are things managers often have some flexibility with so it should be part of the negotiations,” says Sweeney.