I wrote the other day about measuring your career, and I gave some general advice, but I wanted to give you some thoughts to take away about how you might rate your career.
These are some suggested areas, with a note or two in there. I’m not saying any of these, and certainly not all of these, should be important to you. Or that they are important to me. Some of these matter, some don’t.
Pick and choose what matters to you and think about the relative importance. These are presented in no particular order.
- Salary – We need to pay the bills, but don’t let this overwhelm other areas. However also understand you can use this to get other benefits. If I make 10k more, but keep my budget the same, I could use that 10k to take unpaid time off, or pay for other things.
- Vacation days – time off matters. However, taking time off matters more. If you can’t, or don’t, use it, then does this matter? As I get older, I think of this more. One thing I love about Red Gate is the sabbatical. I really enjoyed it, and it makes me think about just taking time off again in a few years. If salary is high enough, you can create your own time off, unpaid, of course.
- Medical benefits – Again, as I get older, I think about this. The US is different than other places, so you might not care. However you might care about leave here with the birth of a child. Think about where you are.
- Education benefits – This mattered when I was younger, but for most of my career, I haven’t had time to use these, so they essentially aren’t benefits. However I have had friend get degrees under these programs. I’d be sure, however, this matches what matters to you. Some companies only reimburse if it’s a field of study related to your job.
- Retirement assistance/401k/matching/etc. – I hope you live a long time. Far, far too many of us don’t plan well for the future, when we may not work as much, we may make less, or just change our lives. What does your employer help you with here.
- Commute – Time is the most valuable resource I have as I get older. Spending time in the car just to move to a job is something I dislike. What does this mean for you?
- Equipment – Perhaps you want the perk of upgrading equipment regularly, or just having some control. Brent Ozar Unlimited offers this, does your employer? Mine does.
- On-call – I once worked in a company where we had 20 operations people. We shared on call, one week of 20. My week I got over 40 calls when the sun was on the other side of the world. That really, really sucked. Think about what on-call does to your life. Some companies offer compensation time when you work more. Some don’t. Think about what you consider to be fair.
- Side Projects – The famous Google 20% time, or the Red Gate Down Tools Week. Maybe you care.
- Travel – Maybe you like to travel, maybe you don’t. Earlier in life I didn’t. I’m better at it now and enjoy some of the experiences. Get a firm grasp of how you feel before you commit to traveling, or get stuck in an office.
- Kudos – Do you care if you get recognized for doing well? Most of the time I don’t, but if I never get a thank you or any acknowledgement of my efforts, it bothers me.
- Training/conferences – We need to improve ourselves in technology, no matter what. Do you want help? Will you get support or even time to improve your skills?
- Hours in the office – Does your company allow remote work? I’m not sure I need 100% remote (or my 98% now), but I’m not willing to work at 0% remote time. However I also have family commitments, so the core hours I need to be in a place matter.
- Flexibility of Schedule – Required for me. Some of you might want a rigid schedule you can plan around. Choose what matters to you.
- Promotion – What are your chances for advancement? How does the company review you and raise your salary or title? How do they move people into new positions?
- Google benefits – Large companies have more overhead in working there. Parking, commutes, lots of stuff eat up time. However many large companies try to help you here. Google has published quite a few of their benefits, but I’ve worked in large companies that offered massages on site, oil changes, child care, gyms, cafeterias, and more. Ask, or suggest, things here. These concierge services can be helpful in life.
- Charity – Some companies match donations, some give time off for volunteer efforts.
All of these items are things you should consider. They aren’t ranked here, but just listed. You might want these as benefits, or not want them. You might want more or less of them. It’s really up to you, but it’s important for you to determine how important each of these items is for your career.
The best advice I can give you here is to ask for what matters to you. Negotiate. You might not get what you want, but that shouldn’t discourage you, nor should you feel you’ve failed. Negotiation is give and take, with you and your employer compromising.
Whether you’re looking for a new position or want changes in your current arrangement, ask and discuss.