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What to Search for in a Job (Beyond Just Salary)

In the accounting industry, skilled and experienced prospects are extremely difficult for employers to find. That means that, to a pretty good degree, you have great leverage in negotiating for a new position during your job search.


What it also means is that you should consider the elements of a job beyond simply the number of zeroes before the decimal. Remember: any full time accounting job is going to require you to spend nearly a third of your life present in the office. Even when the money is great, if other aspects of the job aren’t, you can quickly find yourself either unhappy or back on the job search. Let’s look at a few things to consider outside of the first few boxes on a W-2.

The Job Search Tangibles

Beyond salary, there are numerous tangible benefits that must be considered when evaluating your total compensation. Compensation is more broadly defined as the consideration you receive in exchange for working for your employer, so it’s important to consider it all. Here are some questions to think about.

What does the company offer in terms of health, dental, and vision insurance?

Is it fully covered? If so, that’s a pretty massive benefit worth thousands of dollars a year. How about short- and long-term disability and life insurance? Does the company offer a retirement plan, and if so, do they match contributions? All told, if the company covers these things, it can add up to a pretty healthy tangible financial benefit.

How much paid time off do you receive?

How does the company differentiate between sick days and vacation days? What is the company’s policy regarding maternity and paternity leave? Is parental leave fully covered or is it supplemented by short-term disability insurance? Does the company offer childcare or eldercare?

It’s impossible to overstate the reality of all of these benefits: their value is completely quantifiable. Company A may offer you a salary that’s 5% less than Company B, but if Company A provides a lot of the above and Company B doesn’t, the full value of A’s offer may actually be a whole lot higher. It’s important to run the numbers to get an apples-to-apples comparison when you’re examining your offers.

The Job Search Intangibles

Certain aspects of a company may not be as easily valued (in the dollar sense), but may be of significant intangible value to you nonetheless. According to a 2014 survey by the Society for Human Resource Management, 26% of workers feel that company culture is important relative to job satisfaction, 59% of workers think opportunity for personal growth or advancement is important, and 14% feel that job specific training and skills development is necessary. If you fall in those camps, you should spend some time understanding how a potential employer handles those things. How does a potential employer handle training? Do they offer tuition reimbursement and, if so, are there conditions to qualify?

Company Culture

When going to the interview, take note of how the staff seems to interact with each other. Are they heads down? Do they converse and joke around? Are they lethargic? Do they appear stressed? Remember, you’ll spend at least eight out of every 24 hours with those people. Do they seem like folks you want to hang around? What is the work/life balance? Are you expected to respond to calls and e-mail 24/7 or does the company stand by the normal working hours it’s established? If your job is client-facing, what is the company’s policy regarding response times to incoming client phone calls and e-mails?

Location, Location, Location

Consider the location of the business relative to where you live (or, if it’s a regional relocation, where you’ll be living). What does your commute look like? Will taking the job mean losing another three hours per day in your car? How about parking? If you’re relocating, to what degree will the company assist with your moving expenses?

While this list of questions and things to consider is by no means exhaustive, it hopefully serves to show that there’s a lot to consider beyond your salary. Sometimes compromising on salary alone can put you in a job that gives you more than you ever imagined.

To learn a bit more about what to look for in a job, check out our infographic. And, of course, if you’re in the hunt for a job in accounting, we can help! We have numerous job openings in accounting and finance with leading companies across the country. Contact us today to find the opportunity you’ve been waiting for!


Accounting Principals

We're Accounting Principals--a leader in finance and accounting staffing. In fact, since 2010, we've been part of Adecco Group, a Global 500 company and leader in staffing services around the world. But this isn't staffing as usual. We take quite a different approach than most staffing agencies. A people-focused approach. We believe in forming real relationships with both our clients and our candidates. We want to understand the needs on both sides.