It’s a hot job market right now; there are more job openings than applicants. We are seeing things many of us would have never expected, such as fast-food businesses offering signing bonuses. That was always reserved for highly skilled workers who needed to be wooed away from competitors. Not anymore.
There are opportunities for many employees to better themselves by switching organizations. There are risks and there are rewards in making such a transition. Laying out these factors and walking through them one by one can help you make an informed decision that you are less likely to regret later on.
Compensation for Changing Jobs
Money is always a factor. I doubt there has ever been a better time to shift employers for financial gain. Many employers cannot find the skilled people they need for positions — or even the unskilled people they need for entry-level positions. Starting salaries are rising rapidly in many locations.
Wages, however, are not the whole picture. At least, not always the whole picture.
Other compensation factors to consider are health insurance and other financial benefits. Health insurance is a big deal, and differences between employer plans can be significant.
Health insurance options should be considered very carefully before you make a leap. You could end up with higher costs, or lower coverages, or need to change doctors. Or it could work in your favor. That’s why you have to look closely at the details.
Typically, when you start with a new employer, you will have a waiting period before you can participate in their employer-sponsored retirement plan.
You should also consider if you are fully vested in your plan with your existing employer and whether you will incur a loss by leaving. These may not be deal breakers, but definitely things you should want to know and not be surprised by later.
Indirect Costs of Changing Jobs
When you have to go to a workplace, there are costs to getting there and back. The distance and available transportation options can make a big difference both in the cost and time of commuting to work. Time savings can be a big plus.
Workplaces also can have different expectations for attire and other standards worth considering.
Dressing for the office is simply going to cost more than dressing for the occasional Zoom meeting. It’s a factor to consider — along with the cost of lunch and other items, especially when comparing an on-site job to a remote one.
The Work Itself
There is no reasonable amount of money that will make unpalatable work worthwhile. If you are going to give an employer 40 or more hours of your week, you should strive to be doing something you enjoy, or at the very least do not dislike intently.
Work satisfaction is a big factor. Drastic changes may or may not be for the better. If we are going to get a big increase in pay, we tend to look at the work as either favorable or at least not overly unfavorable.
It helps to know yourself and be realistic. If you don’t like being outside, it shouldn’t matter how much landscapers make — it just isn’t going to be a good fit.
This one is huge. The opportunity to do better across time is a factor that should be very thoughtfully considered. You may be able to make a jump in pay by jumping ship, but which employer offers the best chance for you to be doing what you love and making great bank five years down the road?
Some occupations offer little opportunity; there just isn’t much room to move up. Though it is technically possible to go from cashier to CEO within a major corporation, it isn’t a typical career path.
There’s no hard and fast rule for what type of organization offers the best opportunity.
This analysis requires some judgement, and perhaps some guesswork. Sometimes a large employer may be better due to the sheer number of potential openings.
Sometimes a smaller employer is better as you can clearly showcase your work and how you make a difference. The key is to envision what you want from your career and consider how each employer might best provide that for you.
The Bottom Line on Changing Jobs
There is always risk in changing jobs, but there is also risk in staying too long with an employer. Sometimes you, the employee, have grown more than the employer recognizes, and others would gladly pay significantly more for your services.
On the other hand, there are people who love what they do and are valued and well compensated; they have already found that perfect fit.
There is risk either way. The attractiveness of the ease at which jobs can be changed for greater monetary compensation is a clear draw. And it can be a good choice in many cases. Considering all the factors involved and making a broadly well-informed decision can help prevent regret down the road.
And don’t hesitate to negotiate and ask for what you want. The power is now with the people.