Money Is Not the Only Way to Get Paid on the Job

Money Is Not the Only Way to Get Paid on the Job

I love my job

By Peter Vogt
Monster Contributing Writer

Values are the emotional salary of work, and some folks are drawing no wages at all."
- Howard Figler, The Complete Job-Search Handbook

What sort of pay do you need from a job or internship?

I bet that as you consider this question, your first thoughts turn to money. And it only makes sense, since money is the most obvious and common form of payment in our culture.

But there are many other ways to be paid for your work, and some of them may be more important to you than financial payment. Given the right conditions, it's possible to go from a $40,000-a-year job to a $35,000-a-year job and consider it a raise. How? By getting an "emotional salary" increase -- as author Howard Figler might put it -- in the process.

When you're considering a job or internship -- particularly if you have more than one offer on the table -- it's critical to know which form of pay matters most to you. It may be money. If it is, your decision is simple: Take the position offering the most money. On the other hand, you might be among those for whom money pales in comparison to:

  • Security: While no job is completely secure, clearly some jobs and industries are more stable than others. Would you take less money for a job if it offered some pretty good peace of mind from a security standpoint? Conversely, maybe you couldn't care less about security; you'd rather have an adventure and take some risks. In that case, which would be better: more money from an established, stable company or less money from a start-up that's on the move and ready to take you along for the ride?
  • Opportunity: Some college students want the chance to grow quickly in a job or internship. The corporate ladder and the money that goes with it aren't as appealing as the opportunity to make a significant impact right away. For other students, the exact opposite is true. Where do you stand? Which is better: a $12-an-hour internship with a job description that hasn't changed in years or a $10-an-hour internship you can build as you go along?
  • Flexibility: Many college students are more than content with the full-time work schedule. Others are turned off by the whole 9-to-5 concept and crave the prospect of calling their own shots where the work schedule is concerned. What about you? Does money make up for working 9-to-5, or would you rather set your own hours, at least to some degree?
  • Creative Freedom: If you ever want to make me crazy, you can do it with six simple words: "We've always done it this way." Aaarrgh! I'm a person who thrives on coming up with new ideas and ways of doing things. On the other hand, there are just as many people who want and need to follow established procedures or routines. Wherever you fall within the creative freedom spectrum, you have to ask yourself a question: "Does this matter more to me than financial compensation does?"
  • Balance: Maybe you want a life outside work. Most people do. The real question is, do you want a life more than you want the money that might come with not having a life? If you do, then the position offering work/life balance will pay more for you than the one that doesn't, no matter what the financial rewards.
  • Impact: Are you someone who needs to make a difference in your work? If you are, then the job that will allow you to clearly see yourself mattering will be most rewarding when it comes to emotional salary, even if it may not make you financially rich.

Money is one form of pay but not the only form. Only you can decide how much it matters to you in relation to the many other forms of pay available to you. If you don't, you may take a high-paying job that leaves you feeling broke.