Skip to main content

Finding the Perfect Job: Why You Need to Look Beyond Your Salary

By Nancy Ripton

Published April 13, 2017 • 5 Min Read

If you are fortunate enough to have multiple job offers on the table, before you jump at the one with the highest annual salary, you may want to dive a little deeper into the details. When it comes to finding the perfect position, there is more to consider than annual salary. What seems right for your pocketbook may not be the right job for you.

Take a Step Back

When it comes to picking a career, you need to be self-advocating right out of the gate. Heather Petherick, an Alberta-based Career and Success Coach suggests that people create their own recipe for success by determining what personality strengths you have, what you are good at and what you really want to do each day. If your career doesn’t align with your values, there’s a lower chance you’re going to be happy and successful.

“Too many people ‘pick off the menu’ of what’s available on job boards, try to adapt, and just hope it will work out,” says Petherick. “Do your research and be focused and strategic in what you apply for.” If you have a clear vision of your goals and what type of career fits your lifestyle before applying, you’ll be better able to choose the right job when more than one falls in your inbox.

It’s about the Money, but not ALL about the Money

Choosing the right job is about more than dollars and cents. “You need to determine your ‘walk away rate’,” says Petherick. That’s the minimum salary you’re willing to accept in order to maintain your lifestyle, and that is reflective of your value in the marketplace.

If a job offer hits the minimum, look at other financial impacts that may make one offer more appealing than another. “If you hate long commutes, and one job requires you to spend two hours a day in a car, a 10-minute drive is going to be worth a lot more than an extra $5,000 a year in pay,” says Petherick. Just think of the cost of gas alone!

Other considerations, such as parking costs, phone budgets, signing and/or year-end bonuses, required overtime, frequent business trips, benefits, and the need for an expensive wardrobe update can also effect your finances.

Does the Job Match Your Lifestyle?

Think about the way you like to live. Flexible work arrangements and the ability to take every other Friday off can be invaluable – especially for parents and independent types.

Also, depending on where you’re at in life, travel can be a blessing or a curse. If you’re young and ready to take on the world, a lot of time away from the office may be invigorating. If you have kids at home, the need to hop on a plane every week may wear on you and your family as well as requiring extra childcare costs.

Will the Work Be Meaningful?

Increasingly, work is about the experience. According to research from the University of Alabama, engaging in meaningful work can be the key to happiness. When people buy into what the company is trying to accomplish, and are aligned with workplace goals, it’s a powerful force in keeping employees satisfied and productive.

Before you accept the job, make sure you have a clear vision of what the company is trying to accomplish and how committed they are to your success. The study found that people often take pay cuts to work at companies like Google because the organization provides new recruits with the space to contribute to the company in meaningful ways, and also gives their employees room to grow.

Ask your potential boss where his or her own job satisfaction comes from and what she finds most frustrating about her job. If your boss doesn’t seem to find her work meaningful, it’s a red flag.

Is the Company Open to Job Crafting?

Job crafting occurs when companies allow workers to modify their career duties to best match their abilities and interests. An employee crafts the job description to best suit their skills.

According to 2015 research from the University of Alabama’s Academy of Management Journal, employees who engage in job crafting consistently show higher levels of job satisfaction. Ask your potential employer if they are open to taking new approaches to tasks or minor procedural changes. If a company is too set in their ways it could be a warning sign – especially if you thrive on adaptability.

This can also come down to how committed an employer is to your success. Job crafting may include employee training and drawing a map for company advancement. An organization that commits to the success of its employees will ultimately see its own successes increase.

Is the Company a Cultural Fit?

Even a great salary won’t compensate for a workplace where you just don’t fit in with the culture. “What is the temperament or attitude of the people you’ll be working with?” questions Petherick. Most importantly, do the values and personality types fit in with your own? “If you’re an introvert, it’s hard to shine in a sea of extroverts,” says Petherick. “More often than not, specific personalities fit into certain roles.”

In the end it all comes down to putting a value on your happiness and success. If one company is vested in you as an individual, and giving you the skills you need to thrive, it can be worth thousands. Just think of the cost of sleepless nights, long commutes, stress and long hours of overtime. Do your homework and choose a job that is perfect for you, and not the one that appears to be financially perfect on paper.

This article is intended as general information only and is not to be relied upon as constituting legal, financial or other professional advice. A professional advisor should be consulted regarding your specific situation. Information presented is believed to be factual and up-to-date but we do not guarantee its accuracy and it should not be regarded as a complete analysis of the subjects discussed. All expressions of opinion reflect the judgment of the authors as of the date of publication and are subject to change. No endorsement of any third parties or their advice, opinions, information, products or services is expressly given or implied by Royal Bank of Canada or any of its affiliates.

Share This Article


Career Planning & Development