What I look for in a job besides money
Whether it’s a freelancing gig, a part or full-time job, I always examine these factors
6 min read
PlayStations? Football tables? Excellent catering service that serves three wonderful meals a day?
And for lunch, you have four types of cuisines to pick from daily.
Massage, mandatory travel to a different continent every year?
And no, I’m not talking about your retired life at 40.
These are some things that companies offer, so developers, such as yourself, pick them instead of a different company.
There are a ton of factors that influence our decisions when we opt for a job.
But believe it or not, many of these factors could be more critical in the long term than whether you’ll be served a 3-course lunch daily and how many types of cuisines you can choose from.
Before looking at some of these factors, consider subscribing to my newsletter if you’d like to support my work.
And now, let’s jump right into it!
Sometimes you’ll bump into a job where you can work with the technology you always wanted to try. But there’s a catch: it doesn’t pay as well as some other positions.
If you’re not in absolute need of the excess income, you can look at the low-paying job as an investment.
Instead of making a few $100 more on a job where you can’t learn that much and spending that money each month on something that improves you, you’re getting that right at the workplace.
In my career, I accepted a lower-paying position because it allowed me to use NodeJS to build in-house products for a company.
These products never got the clients, but they were crucial in running the business on our end and serving some of our client’s needs.
When I picked this job, I was deciding between a $1500/mo job (this was for NodeJS) and a $2200/mo job (Java).
In one year, I was short $8400 by picking the first job. But I did this only for one year to gain relevant experience before changing to a position where I made $4000/mo.
So in two years, I was already in $13200+, working with a tech I always wanted to learn.
Very important to note that there’s almost always a diminishing return to how far you can go with this ”I’ll stay here just a bit longer to learn more” mindset.
I know people who use ”learning” as an excuse to stay with their current company despite their incredibly low wages simply because they’ve got too comfortable and don’t know how to make the next step.
The company makes crazy profits from buying the hours of these highly skilled engineers for a crazy discount because they play along with this ”I’m happy that you’re still learning” role play.
They already know soo much they could instantly go freelance or switch to a company that pays twice the money.
Never get too conformable.
As they say, earn or learn. If none of those is true anymore, quit.
Variety of application
Would you pick a job that pays you extra but teaches you something that you can use only at that particular job, or would you settle with lower pay to get hands-on experience in something that you can use elsewhere?
A friend of mine works for a company that sells software. Because of the type of clients they work with, their procedures for invoicing the clients can get super complicated.
The work requires you to use some cloud software tools, but the procedures are client and company-specific. The hard skills my friend can carry over to the next job are limited to the cloud software tools he uses, accounting tools that’ve been around for decades, and Google Sheets.
Being able to learn a technology that’s widely applied at your day job acts as an opportunity multiplier.
What you learn today can lead you to your next job or client.
Learning something that has a wide application also increases your value in the job market.
Now you could say, but yeah, if I learn Fortran, I could be one of these making tons of money maintaining legacy applications.
I have an extensive track record of maintaining legacy applications for life-changing money, and the only change I wanted was to make less money but something more meaningful.
So always consider where else you’ll be using the skill you’re learning here and how wide application does the skill have?
Creative or a Bottle-neck
This could be a personal preference if you like to be a single point of failure.
Some of my friends worked as receptionists, telephone support, or financial consultants; all had one thing in common. Everyone excepted them to be always there when they were on their shift, which means literally, there.
For receptionists, you have to be careful when you take bathroom breaks so the guests can check in when they arrive and they don’t have to wait for you.
Another friend of mine worked as a financial consultant, and although it was a remote job, he couldn’t mute his Slack messages because people were pinging him with questions. He felt the pressure to answer in the shortest possible period.
I couldn’t work like this. Sometimes I have to stretch my legs or eat an apple while I sit for 5 minutes in another room, rebooting my mind.
I encourage my peers to take breaks and return with a fresh head. Most of the time, it helps with whatever problem they’re facing.
If I could take the financial hit, I’d always err on the side of more creative jobs where I can follow the natural rhythm of how I work best instead of sticking to a schedule that makes me feel like I’m walking ChatGPT that’s always looking for your following prompt.
These ad-hoc, always on-call jobs are also taxing.
My friend admits he remembers the period working as a receptionist vaguely because of the constant changes in the day/night schedules (he worked 12-hour shifts).
My financial consultant friend is always on the line with the latest updates to contracts, budgets, and many crucial things for his company to function. His company doesn’t want to invest time or money into better organizing the information, and it’s easier for them to have someone on the line during work hours and ask him.
Now, I could ramble about my observations here for a couple of more chapters, but let’s not fool anyone:
The right job is very personal, and your unique life circumstances ultimately tell what kind of job you will pick.
Sometimes you want stronger finances, and sometimes you go for learning opportunities.
But if your life situation allows you, consider some of the above arguments.
Thanks, and see you in the next one!
If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to me at email@example.com.
Did you find this article valuable?
Support Ákos Kőműves by becoming a sponsor. Any amount is appreciated!