One common, simple goal among job seekers is landing the position that can earn the most money. And it's true that at the most fundamental level, the reason any of us works is to earn income.
However, pay alone should not supersede all factors when considering a career move.
Everyone's probably heard the adage money cannot buy happiness at least once in their life, and the principle applies here.
Don't misunderstanding: you're going to be a lot happier if your wage reflects your contributions to employer and your skill level. You will also be much happier if you avoid having your car repossessed.
Still, a 2010 Princeton study found that the benchmark wage correlating to ones emotional well-being was $75,000 a year. That's no salary to scoff at, given the average American earned around $45,000 last year.
But if more money doesn't automatically correlate to more happiness, the same concept holds true below that $75,000 threshold.
Ask yourself a few questions that remove dollars and decimals from the equation, before making a career move:
Will this job stimulate me intellectually?
Unless you're content taking the path of least resistance, a job that piques your intellectual curiosity and challenges you to grow will be more fulfilling.
Consider if a possible career switch is going to require you to learn new skills. If you're sacrificing immediate pay-off to pursue a position like this, the long-term reward will be greater as you cultivate a more diverse skill set.
Does the employer value my skills?
Being a valued member of an organization goes a long way toward making a work day more enjoyable. Respect is a difficult thing to feign, so you should be able to get a sense if an employer respects your ability, the position for which you are interviewing, and you as a person relatively early in the process.
A respectful work environment is a happier and more productive work environment. And, eventually, respect manifests in higher pay.
How much flexibility does this job offer?
An interesting revelation from the CareerCast.com report on Great Jobs for Generation Z found that a majority of job seekers in Gen Z value flexibility in their careers over pay. That means opportunities to work remotely and hours that are not necessarily locked into the typical 9-to-5.
Perhaps if you're from this generation, or like-minded in your career outlook, flexibility outweighs income. Consider this question an evaluation of time vs. money.
Commanding a wage reflective of your abilities is important, and your work will often reflect your pay. However, pursuing only a paycheck can similarly harm your perspective on work, and ultimately your workplace happiness.