What's more important than salary? (maybe these 4 things)

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At first glance, it might seem like salary is the single most important thing to consider when deciding whether to take a new job. But, is it? Actually, other factors might make a bigger impact on your life and career. Keeping them in mind could even help you earn more in the long run.

Here are a few things that might matter even more than salary. Think about them carefully when considering your next career move.

1. Benefits, perks, flexibility, etc.

In terms of your earnings, there is so much more to compensation than just salary. If that's your single point of focus during negotiations, you could be missing out. When settling on terms, it's wise to also consider things like benefits, vacation time, educational reimbursements, and opportunities for flexible working arrangements. (Use PayScale's Salary Negotiation Guide to help you through the process.)

At the end of the day, these things might matter even more than salary. Being able to telecommute, even just once in a while, could help you find better work/life balance, for example. And, it's essential to consider the monetary value of things like benefits and educational reimbursements — they put money in your pocket just like a paycheck.

2. The people and/or the culture.

When it really comes down to it, most people don't actually leave jobs because of the money. More often, it has to do with what's going on in their lives, and how that's changed the way they feel about their job. Milestone birthdays, like 40 or 50, bring with them an uptick in job-searching, as does attending a class reunion (perhaps this gives folks occasion to measure their lives against others and have second thoughts.)

Also, difficult managers are often the cause of a job change. The people you work with and the culture of that workplace matters so much on a day-to-day basis. Having friends at work really is wonderful, and not to be underestimated. If a lot of people are motivated to leave because of the people or the culture, doesn't that say something about how much this aspect of our work arrangement matters? Maybe, when you really think about it, it's even more important than salary.

RELATED: 14 things you should never say when negotiating your salary:

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3. Opportunity.It's important to consider the big picture when it comes to our career decisions. If you had two offers on the table — one which had a higher salary but offered less opportunity for growth, and another with a lower salary but tons of potential, you'd be wise to consider the later. Building your resume, your network, your skills and experience, and being in a position where continued growth is likely, means a lot. If you stay too focused on salary, you could miss out on the opportunity to position yourself to earn even more further down the road.

4. Enjoyment.

People don't stay at their jobs because of the money — they stay because they like what they do. A survey a few years back showed that 67 percent of people said they were staying in their current job because they enjoyed the work. It was the number one reported reason to do so. Only 59 percent of people mentioned that the pay was a leading reason for staying put.

These days, finding fulfillment through work might be even more important than ever. Millennial workers crave purpose, not just a paycheck when it comes to finding employment that's right for them. They might be on to something. It's easier to give your job your all when you find value and fulfillment in the work — and that could lead to promotions and more money down the road.

More from PayScale:
3 Reasons Why You Hate Your Job
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