When we meet someone new, one of the first topics of conversation is always what we do for a living. Whenever I’m questioned about my career by young parents or travel-aspiring millennials, I’m constantly greeted with this response: “Wow! You’re so lucky you can work remotely!”

It’s true – I’m extremely fortunate. I work with a fantastic team, have an encouraging and supportive manager, and work from home. However, when I recently graduated college a few years ago, my largest concern for a new job was much more simple – what’s the pay?

Like many others, I swam in the fear of approaching student loan payments. I didn’t want to be another kid economically forced to live with her parents post-graduation. After a few months of intense job searching, past internships and volunteer experience led me towards a wonderful company. As I continued to work, another organization approached me offering a similar position – with twice the pay.

I thank God every day that I did not take the other job. Had the other organization offered me a job in my senior year of college, I would not have hesitated working for them. Yet, as I’ve grown wiser from experience, the unseen benefits of my current positioned outweighed the pay from the other offer.

My wise uncle would often tell my family,

“Count the benefits – especially the ones you don’t see.”

While we are often told to look at the benefits package offered by an employer, it’s tougher – but equally important – to examine what’s left unstated in your contract.

4 Questions to Ask Yourself When Looking at a Job Opportunity:

  1. Who will you be working for? For most people, their boss and coworkers will be the single largest determining factor towards their satisfaction at work. What does the rest of the team say about the supervisor? How much does an additional $5k in salary matter to you? Would you prefer to work underneath a horrible boss to bring home the extra $5k every year? How would your dissatisfaction at work affect your personal relationships?
  2. What is the flexibility? Are you looking to adopt a child or take maternity leave at some point? Are you the primary parent who takes your child to doctor and dentist appointments? Do you plan to stay home if your child gets sick? Can you work remotely in these situations? Do you plan on taking a few long vacations or multiple extended weekends? What is the company’s attitude about time-off? There are some companies that offer extremely generous time-off packages, but discourage their employees from using them. When there is a personal emergency – death in the family, preterm labor, family member in an accident – how will your team respond to your time off?
  3. Is the pay worth your time? There are some jobs that seem to pay high salaries. Upon inspection, the pay is not as high as it may seem. For example, some positions may offer a salary of $75k a year, but they are asked to work 80 hour work weeks. It’s comparable to working two full time jobs – one that paid $40k and another that paid $35k. Is this a viable option for you?
  4. What is the mobility or growth potential? There are some positions that have a low pay-grade for the first year, but the pay jumps up exponentially as the employee completes training and excels. The second year may reap a 25% or 50% pay increase as your experience grows. Would you rather work for $30k your first year, grow to $50k the second year, and $75k the third? Or would you prefer to work at $45k for three consecutive years?

In the past year, unexpected health situations made my flexible work schedule necessary. I spent at least one afternoon a week bouncing back and forth to the hospital for fluids or to see different medical specialists. Most employers would have squirmed at the amount of time off or work-from-home-days I requested. If I had taken the other position, I doubt the other organization would have been able to be as flexible with me. Most likely, I would have been phased out and replaced.

Instead, my team supported me – enabling me to get back to work much sooner than I thought possible. In return for their generosity, my organization created an extremely loyal employee.

Fellow millennials – when you look at a job position, look at pay scale as one factor of many: examine both the seen and unseen benefits. You will empower yourself to make a much more informed and satisfying decision.

Posted by Carolina Chirdon

I am a strategic planner based in Dallas Fort Worth. Covering work-life balance, leadership, and special projects, my stories highlight the relationship between our personal values and our work performance.

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