When it comes to finding a new job, there are numerous questions to consider. What are my ultimate career goals? Do my skills and interests align with the work? Will I be near friends and family, or will I embark on a journey in a whole new city? Here at Scouted, we encourage our candidates to review these considerations thoughtfully and help them to map out a long-term plan for their careers.  

Of course, some of the questions we think about most often concern compensation. Will I make enough to support myself? If I have a partner or if I have a family, will I be able to care for them too? Considering my experience and education, am I going to be compensated fairly for the work I’ll be doing? 

Answering these questions can prove tricky, but it can be helpful to think about compensation questions in two parts: the basics and the finer points.

The Basics of Compensation

Budget

First, prepare yourself for some due-diligence as you begin your job search. Review your expenses and develop a plan for the minimum compensation you can afford. Account for all the obligations you can expect: rent, student loans, food, daycare, Netflix – you get the idea. Once you have a budget in place, you can job hunt with the peace of mind that you’ll be able to take care of yourself and loved ones. 

Fair Market Value

Do your research on the role you’re interviewing for. Understand what the average compensation is for that type of position in your area. Ensure you receive the fair market value for that type of work, but remember where you live might affect that number. What a marketing manager makes in San Jose, CA will likely differ from that same role in San Antonio TX. 

Experience

Factor in any industry expertise you’ve accumulated or education you’ve pursued to support your candidacy. If you have cultivated invaluable niche experience over the past ten years, or you’ve bolstered your credentials with a specialized degree, ensure the employer reflects this in the compensation package. 

A Comprehensive Offer

Finally, remember compensation is not just a salary. Component parts comprise your total offer. A company often provides benefits like medical and dental, maybe transportation assistance as well. On top of that, perhaps they have a robust bonus structure, generous vacation policy, or offer equity in the company. Take these into account when you weigh your options.

Once you feel comfortable with your foundation, you’re ready to reflect on some of the more nuanced considerations that are worth your time, too! Often, they’re what separates a good job offer from a great one.

Also read: How to Answer: What’s Your Desired Salary?

The Finer Points of Compensation

A Great New Team (or Boss!)

Many of us can relate to having had a subpar manager at some point in our careers. Maybe we’ve encountered difficulty relating to our coworkers and developing friendships that make the workday a little more bearable. 

A new job can offer the chance to lay groundwork for a new mentor, new friendships, over even an overall more socially enjoyable work experience. A great manager will set you up for success for years to come: making you a more effective contributor, manager, and eventually executive down the line. A great team will make your days go by faster. If through the interview process you have the luxury to get to know your future team and realize there’s a click, don’t take that for granted! You’ll spend a lot of your life surrounded by these folks for the foreseeable future, so why not make the most of it? Recognize that developing your career and your network can be a professional and personal boon for years to come. 

What’s better than having a boss and team that makes you laugh, challenges you, and makes you feel at home?

Organization Credibility

Consider your long term goals and what you’ll need to get there. Whether you’re aligning yourself with a company known for the quality of its products, its loyalty to its mission and principles, or something else, a certain company may be a crucial stepping stone to help you get there. If you’re looking to transition roles or industries, you may want to spend some time working for a company willing to give you a chance before you’re ready to take your next step towards the big league. 

Pro Tip: Don’t underestimate the power of a professional network, either. Moving to a company with a larger network in your desired industry can introduce you to folks who’ll be pivotal in facilitating that transition. 

Getting Your Hands Dirty

Smaller organizations and startups will often require you to wear multiple hats. Though perhaps initially daunting, these sorts of opportunities can set you up for grand future success. Tracing the arc of a career path along those lines just requires a little creativity and elbow grease. 

The opportunity to sculpt a path for yourself aligned with your interests and strengths is yours for the taking. You can experiment in different functions within the company; try your hand at a new skill and see what sticks. Don’t be afraid to fail. You can be the architect in carving out a professional niche that will allow you to shine. You can orient your day-to-day job around developing a skill set to match your future long-term goals. 

Passion for a Mission

Some of our favorite candidate conversations here at Scouted are with folks taking on the mantle of a new mission they’re excited about. If you have the opportunity to join a mission-oriented organization or non-profit, it’s helpful to remember you’re entering a sector of the market that is not as well-funded as a fully for-profit organization. Roles in this segment of the market will likely fetch compensation that is somewhat lower than what you could expect elsewhere. 

With that, though, comes a different kind of reward. Dedicating yourself towards a cause you care about often lends invaluable purpose to your day and an overall feeling of accomplishment in life. There is great value to be found in waking up for a job that injects your steps with purpose and passion. It may even make motivating yourself in the mornings a little easier!

Also read: 11 Things You Should Negotiate Other Than Salary

Conclusion

Ultimately, the team here at Scouted encourages you to think about more than just the number on the dotted line. You get to decide what’s the bottom line you need to maintain the lifestyle you want (no judgment!) and cover the many expenses you have. Once that is covered, many times, there is a lot to be gained from an offer that you can enjoy day to day and leverage as you continue to grow your career. Consider how an extra $X amount added to your salary will impact you versus the long-term benefits in the balance. 

When you have compensation conversations with a potential employer, we encourage you to be transparent and upfront but also, of course, gracious and understanding. Advocate for your concerns in a straightforward way, but do your best to understand all the other factors a company may be considering as well.