By Arnie Fertig
In "The Godfather," Don Corleone (Marlon Brando) helps his on-screen nephew get an acting job with this famous promise: "I'll make him an offer he can't refuse."
What employer enticements make an offer too good for you to refuse? Everyone would rather be paid more than less, but does a high enough (whatever "enough" means for you) salary automatically equate to a job offer that is too good to refuse? There are many situations in which other factors may trump salary while deciding which jobs to pursue and which offer to accept:
1. Your career arc. Where are you in the course of your overall career? Some people thrive while managing others and working their ways up to the C suite of offices. Others would rather earn less to be hands-on individual contributors, without responsibilities for the work and productivity of others.
Maybe work-life balance is more important to you than the required extra hours and stress of a higher-paying position. Perhaps you will be willing to give up dollars in order to have a flexible schedule that can accommodate your personal or family needs. Alternatively, as you climb the ladder of success, a position in which you can gain particular skills and experience or rub shoulders with people who will be important to you later might trump a somewhat higher current salary. Perhaps you are in the fortunate position in which you will want to average your income over several years, and more money now is less valuable for tax and other reasons than delayed compensation.
2. Corporate or employer brand. Some companies go to great extents to become known as great places to work and have solid employer brands. Salary is one of the components of this designation, but certainly not the only one. On the other hand, sometimes companies with poor brands will offer greater salaries in order to attract the workers they need. Only you can decide whether it is worth going to work in such a place.
Think ahead to your next job search, whenever that might come. It may be more valuable to have an association with a solid company than with a company that is unknown or has poor reputation.
3. Intellectual challenge. Does the salary trump the nature of work you will be doing? Some companies are content to do things the way they have always been done, while others are more likely to value your capacity for innovation.
Some people are devoted to expanding the whole realm of human knowledge and prefer to take academic teaching or research positions, which typically pay less than jobs in the corporate sector. For some, the demand and opportunity to use the mind and avoid groupthink settings may trump a higher compensation.
4. Ability to do good. The nonprofit and philanthropic sectors of the economy are large and provide opportunities to aid virtually any conceivable personal cause or element of culture. Yet, like the business and manufacturing sectors, these jobs require people with similar skills in terms of leadership, financial management and human resources. Salaries are typically somewhat lower, but the knowledge that you are somehow helping others or society as a whole may make up for it.
5. Overall compensation. Salary is only one component of your overall financial compensation. Financial service and sales positions, among others, often have significant portions of compensation tied to individual and overall corporate performance. Also, the formulas used and overall compensation programs are frequently overhauled.
While companies often have similar kinds of benefits, they aren't all equal. The costs and particular benefits of health insurance are likely to vary significantly from company to company.
The same goes for contributions to 401(k) or other retirement plans. Some companies are far more restrictive than others in your choice of how to invest your retirement accounts. The overall rate of return on funds will vary greatly over time. As the saying goes: Past performance is no guarantee of future success. However, it is nonetheless well worth taking a careful look at how retirement funds are handled at any perspective employer.
Don't forget other factors, such as commuting and parking costs, expected wardrobe cost and other elements of the benefits package when determining your overall anticipated compensation. It might well be that a lower salary from one employer may ultimately result in a higher overall compensation ... or not.
Arnie Fertig, MPA, is passionate about helping his Jobhuntercoach clients advance their careers by transforming frantic "I'll apply to anything" searches into focused hunts for "great fit" opportunities. He brings to each client the extensive knowledge he gained when working in HR staffing and managing his boutique recruiting firm.
By Arnie Fertig