Beyond salary: What to look for when choosing a job?

January 12, 2016 •

4 min reading

Beyond salary: What to look for when choosing a job?

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If many companies wrongly assume money is the primary motivator for employees, the latest CEB global labor market survey shows that of course it's important, but that most of us aren't just looking for the highest paying position anymore.

As you are considering committing to a new company, what questions should you be asking to make sure your next job is right for you?

Will you be happy?

As in personal relationships, it's important that the relationship you have with your colleagues, employer, and company is harmonious and gratifying. There are two kinds of potential compensation: financial and psychological. Financial income is the most commonly thought of form of income - you work, you get paid - but psychological compensation is just as important. You need to know that your talents are appreciated and that you, and the work you do, is going to be both valued and respected.

Follow the mantra of Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos, who advises, Chase the vision, not the money; the money will end up following you. Being able to wake up each day and head to a job you like, if not love, is practically priceless.

Do you believe in the company?

Pride is a powerful thing; so is integrity. If you're proud of your company and what it stands for, you're more likely to wake up excited to head to the office. You shouldn't have to sacrifice your values for a paycheck. It's perfectly okay to ask about employee recognition programs and inquire as to the company's charitable endeavors and consider the answers when you're mulling over job offers later. Consider what type of business you want to be a part of. If you have to decide between two companies, one of which operates in a way that significantly gives back to society and the other being a large conglomerate with little interest in the local community, that may influence your decision.

Will you have a life outside of the office?

Not having proper work-life balance is stressful, so much so that it can have a negative impact on your health. Recently General Mills admitted it had spent more taking care of its stress-riddled employees than it spent on steel. Having a good worth ethic is a great way to achieve success, but if you're 40-hour work week commitment evolves into 60 hours and then 80, you won't have time to enjoy the money and prestige you've earned. Chat with current employees and see how they feel about the company and gauge whether they seem happy to be there or dying to get out. Not everyone loves their job, but if you're going to spend a minimum of 5 days a week there, you shouldn't hate it either.

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Do you want to work with the other people in the company?

As Steve Jobs once said, My model for business is The Beatles. They were four guys who kept each other’s kind of negative tendencies in check. They balanced each other, and the total was greater than the sum of the parts. That’s how I see business: Great things in business are never done by one person, they’re done by a team of people.

It takes a village, and you have to be willing to work with the other members of that village if anything is going to get done. It can be difficult to know how you'll mesh with other employees until you're already on board, but you can certainly get a feel from management early on. A great rapport during the interview phase can be an indicator that you and your boss(es) will work well together.

Are there opportunities for growth?

Will you be challenged? Will you be stimulated? Will taking this job help you reach your ultimate goals? Not every opportunity has to be a life-long commitment, but it should ideally help you acquire the knowledge and skills required to advance upon your chosen career path and even better serve as a springboard towards the next level of both personal and professional growth. Take a look at the executive level of the company, too: Is it family-owned and run and planning to stay that way? Are there mentorship programs in place? Do they promote from within and offer opportunities to existing employees before looking outside of the company?

Like Google's free breakfasts or Richard Branson's Virgin staff unlimited holidays, companies are increasingly proposing new kind of employees benefits to insure your loyalty and productivity.

Ultimately, accepting a job offer is a deeply personal decision, but the better your bachelor or master educational foundation and preparation the better equipped you'll be to choose the path that's right for you.