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Salary vs. Career Growth: Which is More Important?

On the wayward scale of human understanding, “the right job” is a term open to a vast range of interpretations. To one person, it might mean the job that guarantees a solid pension for retirement. For others it might be the job near the 7-Eleven so they can grab an egg and cheese breakfast burrito for breakfast everyday. But for those who are interested in the small matter of making money, there are two vital criteria which need to be balanced in order to successfully sail the job search seas and choose the job that provides you financial security as well as peace of mind: career growth vs. salary.

Salary is the heavy hitter while career growth takes a beating in the opening rounds, then pulls through near the closing bell. The difference between the two is more than just the number of zeroes on your paycheck. It’s about choosing to sit behind the desk that will open the most doors for you. And for that I offer you the following play-by-play.

I want money, you want money, everyone wants money. It can’t be helped. We live in a world where money actually makes everything go ’round. You want to be able to pay your rent and go out a few nights a week while building a comfortable nest egg for a rainy day. So the day you get the offer for the big bucks, you jump for it. It’s a big step up from where you were two weeks ago, but it isn’t where you want to finish up.

That first pay day comes and you’re smiling. Then the next one comes. And the next one. Soon a year goes by and that number gets bumped up a few percent. Then another year passes and you notice that a lot of your coworkers are no longer the ones you started with and you are one of their veteran employees- and yet you’ve had no career growth. You talk to that friend who took the job offer you turned down, the friend whose dinner you paid for that first celebratory night just to rub your extra Benjamins in their face. They’re not only making more than you now, but they’ve been promoted twice and have a company car while you’re still taking the bus. You decide almost on the spot that it’s time for a new job search.

So what happened? What did they do differently during the job search that you didn’t?

Not surprisingly, considering that it’s the title of the post, the difference is that they chose a job for the career growth rather than the salary. The average yearly salary increase is three to five percent for employees who stay in the same job in the same company. For a $50,000 salary that’s an additional $1,500 to $2,500 every year. But compare that to a salary increase of $15,000 on top of a bonus for being promoted and the winner is pretty obvious.

The problem with jobs that offer a promising salary with no upward mobility is that they are dead-end jobs that keep you from progressing in your career growth, and this eventually takes a visible toll on the confidence and mental state of the worker- especially those who are new to the job search. The only time this scenario is acceptable is if it is your dream job, the top of your ladder. Otherwise, make sure that there are still a few rungs left for you to climb before settling.

What do you think? Is career growth more important to you then an immediate, bigger salary? Let us know what you think in the comments section below!

IMAGE: Courtesy of Flickr by cm195902

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Written by

Bane is a Purdue graduate and has been through a lot of the trials and tribulations every job seeker goes through. He is looking to spread his knowledge so that other job seekers don't make the same mistakes. Learning by doing is fine, but knowledge is king.

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