These days, in order to get ahead financially in the job market, continuously being on the lookout for opportunities outside your company is almost a necessity. If you do research and you are on the lower end of the salary average for your position, one of the best ways to raise your salary is to change jobs.

Even with looking for a new job, though, there are some things you’ll want to consider. Just because you might get paid more at a different company doesn’t mean the grass is greener. Looking at the whole picture is necessary for determining where you want to work and if you should stay put.

Research sites like Glassdoor are great for finding out the average pay salary in any potential job you may want. But money definitely isn’t everything.

Depending on your goals, it can be one of the deciding factors. However, a higher salary doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll actually be bringing home more. There is more to look at.

Here are five different areas to consider when you’re job hunting or considering accepting a new position.

Are the Benefits Similar?

When I was searching for a new job, the job I was looking at had some similar benefits to where I am now but the cost was a little bit different. I had to take that into consideration for how much of a raise I would be getting if offered the role. If I get a $2,000 raise for switching jobs but healthcare is $2,000 more a year in premiums potentially, is it worth it to switch?

Benefits packages and culture benefits vary widely between organizations. Some things to consider:

  • Healthcare plan – does it include dental and vision? Are the premiums more? Is it more or less coverage? Will you have to switch doctors?
  • 401K Benefits – Would your new employer offer a 401K? Is there a company match? Is the company match the same amount of money, more, or less? The company match at my current job helped me earn an 80% return on my 401K. The company I was looking at offered a little less so that was something to consider.
  • Other Insurances – Does your prospective company have other insurance offers such as life or short and long-term disability? Not all places do but it may be a deciding factor for you.
  • Food Allowances – Does the company you want to work for provide any food? If so, this would cut down on your grocery budget and would be part of the “raise” beyond your monetary raise. The company I applied for gave everyone a daily stipend for breakfast and lunch along with providing a ton of fruit and healthy cereals for breakfast.
  • Missing Benefits – Are there any normal benefits that are outright missing? Some places pay well but don’t offer insurance (still!). Do you value a stock purchase plan? You’ll want to make sure that any plans that you’d love to take part in are part of the benefits package or decide to make due without.

As one last example, my current company gives $1,000 a year toward an HSA account. That is not something included in most benefits packages so that automatically closes the gap by $1,000 for any other company I would apply for.

Check out all of the potential benefits and compare them to where you are now.

Is the Location a Good Fit?

This one is simple enough. Is the job location better or worse than where you are at now? And how does that relate to the overall job and salary? Let me give you a couple of quick examples.

I was at a restaurant job that was about 8 minutes from my house. I had virtually no commute so I’d be home shortly after I left work. The overall job, however, was not good for me due to the crazy schedule and stress level.

Now I work at a job downtown where I have to commute on the train every day. My eight and a half hour work day is essentially over an eleven hour day due to the commute. I leave for the train station at 6:30 am and I pull into my garage at about 5:45 pm. However, it’s Monday through Friday so I get to see my wife and kids every night and on weekends.

The tradeoff was worth it for me. Would it be for you and your situation?

As another example, think about if you were commuting to the city on a train and then all of a sudden found a job that wasn’t necessarily farther away time-wise but now required you to drive. Something to consider besides the raise is that your commuting costs will probably go up at least a couple of hundred dollars a month because you are now using gas instead of paying the train company.

Consider location when considering your new job. It may not be the best place for you.

Is the Company Culture a Good Fit?

Company cultures can vary widely. The company that I applied for a few months ago had a culture of really wanting to take care of the employees. That translated to company parties, providing food, beer, and the works for employees almost whenever they wanted.

Other companies I’ve seen or worked for didn’t care about the employees at the time and just wanted to make sure everyone was working and being productive all the time. Still other companies only care about the bottom line and employees are just a number.

My current job has a beer culture. We have beer taps that open at a certain time close to the weekend. There is a dedicated Slack group to “what’s on tap” around the office. It’s fun, but you may not fit in if you aren’t into alcohol.

Another aspect of company culture is how much emphasis is placed on advancement and learning opportunities. Do those fit with what you value and what your career goals are?

You can also get a feel for management at the company, how they view the culture, and if there is micromanaging going on. If the company hires managers that tend to micromanage and you’d like a little more autonomy, the company may not be a great fit.

I highly recommend you research the culture and ask questions about it in your initial interviews to gather insight into what decision you should make.

Is the Company Secure?

Outside of the culture, I recommend researching to see how the company is doing as a whole. Is the company poised for growth? How are they doing financially?

The last thing you want is to be hired on with an expectation of a long, healthy career and then get let go three months later.

Research if there have been recent layoffs due to growth stagnation, a change in direction, or a focus shift. If you’re a product developer and the company recently decided to focus on only support current products rather than developing new ones, your role may not be secure.

Does the New Position Fit in with Your Future Goals?

What does your future look like? Where do you want to be in five years? Ask yourself if this new position would help or hinder you from reaching your goals.

You could be dying to get into marketing so you applied for a job at a marketing firm. Sounds like it’s right up your alley!

If you want to be an entrepreneur or freelancer someday instead of working at a corporate job consider these questions.

  • Will this new position sap away my energy so I don’t have any to work toward my future?
  • Does this new position offer me enough engagement to feel fulfilled?
  • Will I learn something in this position that I can use in future endeavors?

Job hunting, and interviews especially, are a two-way street. The interviewer obviously wants to make sure you’re a good fit for the role. However, on the flip side, you want to make sure the role is going to be a good fit for you as well.

Final Thoughts

It can be tempting to just consider a higher salary associated with a new job. After all, when a bigger number than what you currently make is thrown your way, it immediately sets our minds on the possibilities of what we could do with “all that money.”

But that’s not the whole story.

In my current role, I’m still making about $8,000 less a year than I was when I left my restaurant management position. I still wouldn’t trade it to go back even if it the gap was bigger. It isn’t what’s best for me or my family.

I encourage you to step back, look at the whole picture, and consider the whole story when searching for a new job.

Let’s start a conversation! I’d love to hear your thoughts on other areas to consider aside from salary when job hunting. Comment below!

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