For many job seekers, finding a “better” job means finding a higher paying one. The assumption seems logical, but making it might actually lead to slower advancement and lower job satisfaction in the long run. Too many of us over-value salary and under-value other job benefits. A job that challenges and inspires you, engages you socially, and provides work-life balance adds worth to your paycheck and fosters long-term success.

With over fifteen years’ experience as an executive recruiter, I’ve learned that salary is just one of several factors to consider in finding satisfaction at work. These four significant employment benefits can make the difference between a job you like, and a job you love.

Your company invests in your future. When you take a new job, you are investing yourself in that company. Your company should reciprocate that investment. Professional development opportunities, such as corporate training seminars, college tuition credits, and networking opportunities, can be invaluable down the road. Join a company where there is room to grow. Consider whether a lower salary up front might lead to more rapid advancement later.

Your office is a great place to spend the day. Don’t underestimate the value of corporate culture. A huge salary is great, but it might not be worth it if you dread going to the office. Look for a friendly and collegial atmosphere, fostered through collaborative work opportunities and inclusive social events. When you visit the office, do employees seem genuinely to like each other? Are they friendly to newcomers? Is the office open and inviting, or a warren of airless offices? Companies that take pride in their offices are usually committed to a great social environment also.

Your job maximizes perks and minimizes hidden costs. It’s easy to overlook hidden costs when evaluating a new salary. Job expenses such as daily transportation, wardrobe, or food and drink prices can add up quickly. On the other hand, job benefits like comprehensive health insurance, gym memberships, transit passes, catered meals, and childcare can add substantially to your overall salary and to your work-life balance.

Your work-life balance is valued. Flexible hours, generous vacation days, and lifestyle perks such as lunchtime fitness classes make employees happier and more successful. Are you chasing a higher salary at the expense of your social life, family time, and personal goals? If so, that raise might not make you happier. Look for a job that you can commit to one hundred percent without losing sight of other priorities, and you’ll probably be more productive (not to mention happier) in the long run.

You should be motivated to do great work by your workplace and your colleagues, not by your paycheck alone. While everyone wants to make more money, it’s important not to be penny wise and dollar foolish. Often, to compromise on salary for a job that gives you room to grow, invests in your potential, and values your happiness is to make an investment in your future.

What employment benefits do you most value? Have you ever chosen better perks over a higher salary? Please share your stories.


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