Money talks. And, apparently, career professionals are listening. According to a 2018 LinkedIn survey, 43 percent of today’s professionals are motivated by salary.
If you’re like most, salary is a significant driver in your career-related decisions, including whether to stay at a job or leave a job, whether to accept a new job offer or how much risk you’re willing to take to make a career change.
Salary: The Front-and-Center Quantitative Factor
Whether you call it your salary, your hourly rate, or your income, money is a chief unit of measure of the perceived value of your contribution to your employer. In economic terms, the work you provide can be thought of as “output,” which has a direct correlation to your earnings, the “input” you receive.
In addition to the value we all place a value on our contribution (our output), compensation specialists have been studying that sweet spot for decades to determine equitable salary ranges for a balanced input-to-output ratio for every position, at every level, in every industry.
On a personal level, the dollar amount in your paycheck allows you to provide for — and maintain — a desired standard of living.
Identifying the Qualitative Factors That Matter — to You
Because money is quantitative, it’s what often makes it the squeaky wheel. Yet there are many other less-obvious, qualitative factors that also contribute to your ability to live the life you envision. How do you know which qualitative elements to factor into your career-related decisions?
The first step in choosing non-quantitative elements to consider is to become really clear and articulate about the life you want to create. Consider your values: What’s important to you? What kind of person — leader … friend … partner … parent — do you want to be? What experiences do you want to have? In what areas do you want to learn, grow or hone your skills?
As you begin to clarify your understanding of your vision and your values, those qualitative factors will begin to emerge and take shape.
Maybe you have career aspirations that include top-level leadership and high impact contribution; maybe you have a strong drive to be involved in your community, local political organizations or charitable associations; perhaps there are specific industries, hobbies or geographical regions around the globe that draw your attention; or maybe your priorities reside with family and close friends and ensuring quality time with them is of utmost importance.
Whatever your goals, intentions, priorities, or values, knowing what those are will help you identify and ask for qualitative components when faced with decisions when you find yourself at a career crossroads.
Qualitative Factors: There Are No Right or Wrong Answers
In the LinkedIn Career Pivot survey, work-life balance came in at a close second to salary, with 40 percent of respondents ranking it at the top of what matters most, followed by opportunity to learn and grow (22 percent) and making an impact (18 percent).
Within each of these areas, there are several questions you can ask yourself to evaluate these qualitative factors:
- Does the company offer a wellness program or wellness incentives?
- Are vacations and personal days encouraged?
- Is child-care subsidized? Or perhaps the organization offers free on-site childcare services.
- How does the organization support growth and professional development?
- Does the company tend to promote from within, or encourage advancement?
- Do it offer tuition reimbursement, training dollars for ongoing learning, executive coaching, or a dedicated plan for your specific growth?
- Could you get on board with the company’s vision or mission?
- Do you see yourself fitting in with the corporate culture?
As you contemplate a new job offer or a career shift, it’s important to remember to consider the factors that are important to you. Just as $100,000 may be a windfall to one person, it may be a drop in the bucket to others. The same is true for non-quantitative elements of a job or career; there are no inherently right or wrong answers, but they might be right or wrong for you as you consider your next career move.