What’s this job really worth?

How to calculate the total package.

What’s this job really worth?

Salary is the only form of income for most people. That number is key, and people usually strive to get it up as high as possible over the course of their careers. Is that the best metric for taking a job, however, when there are so many other things to consider? What about benefits, professional development and personal fulfillment? How do you decide if the total package is good enough? Here are a few factors to consider.

Salary isn’t everything

“When considering the total package, money should be thought of in terms of whether or not it is fair and adequately meets the individual's needs—but after that, non-financial factors are what will really make or break how pleasant the job is,” says Daniel Crosby, president of IncBlot Behavioral Finance.

Crosby says that all too often people will work so hard to make a few thousand dollars more and end up sacrificing their quality of life. “Unless you really need the money to provide for you and yours, the non-financial factors are the ones to really pay attention to once you have the basics covered.”

Factor in other financial benefits

In addition to your salary, chances are you’ll receive some other type of employee benefits that can save you money, generate retirement income or protect your income against losses. It’s important to evaluate these and see what sort of difference they make in your overall compensation. Health insurance, vision, dental, short-term disability and long-term disability will all make a big difference should you suffer a health problem and will save you money on routine visits in the meantime. “Other critical benefits you should consider are: retirement plan or 401(k) match, employee stock plan, education reimbursement, life insurance, child care, fitness reimbursement and maternity/paternity leave,” says Brian Festa, HR consultant at IBM. Another important consideration, according to Festa, is any time off or lack thereof. “Employers don't have to provide paid vacation or paid time off (PTO) for sick leave, so make sure you find out before you accept any job offer.”

The intangibles

Some of the best benefits of any job are specific to us and add very little to our bottom line. These can include “work environment, company culture, potential for advancement, career development, and most important, your fit and interest in the role,” Festa says. All of these are important to investigate and consider before deciding on a job. Sometimes investigating these factors may lead to a lateral move, rather than a large salary bump. J.F. Garrard, a nuclear medicine specialist and health care redevelopment consultant, recently made such a move. She accepted a job with a slightly higher salary and much less benefits and pension because, as she says, “I gained the opportunity to learn more skills in the field of health care redevelopment, which is quite niche, and to challenge myself with bigger projects. The gain is long-term career progression for me, so I'm willing to let go of certain things.”