As the “Great Resignation” is underway, workers may be wondering if they should join in. For those in their 40s, the considerations may be a bit different than for entry-level workers who are trying to establish their career, or older employees focused on job security. Here are six factors to ask about as you look for a new job.
1. Can I enjoy a bump in compensation?
Mid-career workers are in their prime earning years, so you want to make sure you’re boosting your salary, especially as rising inflation takes a larger bite out of budgets. One recent survey found that 64% of job switchers earned more in their new position.
With the job market in your favor, you likely have room to negotiate. Start with salary, taking into account what you earn now and what amount of upside would make it worthwhile for you to change jobs, especially if you’re relatively happy with your current one. Then move on to other components of your compensation, including commission, if applicable, and bonuses. This is also a good time to ask if you can revisit your package at six months rather than waiting a year. Finally push for extra paid time off, reimbursement for commuting costs and anything else that translates to more money in your wallet.
2. Does it offer robust retirement savings opportunities?
This is a crucial time to boost your retirement savings, whether you started early or are trying to make up ground. Ask about tax-advantaged accounts, such as a 401(k), and if you’ll receive a company match. Often your employer will “match” a percentage of your personal 401(k) contributions – say depositing .50 for every dollar you put in, up to a certain percentage. That amounts to “free” money that can help your nest egg grow even faster.
Another appealing option is a health savings account (HSA), which allows you to set aside pre-tax money in an account to cover a wide range of qualified medical expenses. Unlike a flexible spending account, there isn’t a limit on how soon you have to use it, so you can potentially move this from job to job and let it grow for future costs.
3. Does the benefits package adequately provide for my family?
Health care needs expand as we age, both from new conditions we might develop and our growing family’s healthcare requirements. That’s why you’ll want to take a close look at the benefits package. Start with health insurance plans, which come with varying cost structures. Spend some time computing your financial responsibility, taking into account the relative interaction and effect of different levels of monthly premium, copays, deductibles and prescription coverage.
Then move on to supplemental offerings: Many plans offer voluntary benefits that could include disability, life insurance and auto or homeowners insurance. Some even provide pet insurance for your fur babies. Take the time to assess the full suite of benefits that are offered to make an informed decision. A more robust insurance package could be the deciding factor when looking at your entire compensation.
4. Does it provide flexibility?
Most workers have found they can be just as productive at home as in the office. A remote or hybrid schedule allows you to avoid costs associated with commuting, from gas and parking or public transportation fees, to secondary expenses, like a wardrobe refresh and restaurant meals.
In addition, flexible hours allow you to attend to caregiving needs, which is often a consideration for 40-somethings in the so-called “sandwich generation,” who may be taking care of kids and parents simultaneously. Any reduction in caregiving costs amounts to more money in your bank account – not to mention the peace of mind that comes from avoiding extra schedule hassles and ensuring the best level of care for your loved ones.
5. Are there growth opportunities?
As you enter your 40s, you find yourself in that mid-career state where you should be thinking about your future professional trajectory. Changing jobs presents the ideal opportunity to assess what will help you feel fulfilled going forward. Review the job through the lens of its potential to help you advance, such as one that offers management or supervisory responsibilities and ongoing professional development, or one that aligns more closely with your skills and interests. All of these factors can have an impact on your salary and career growth – and satisfaction – over the coming years.
6. Does this company and position reflect my values?
Sometimes not every consideration is financial: Many workers took advantage of the slower pace of the pandemic to assess what was important to them in their vocation, leading many to find companies or roles that were better aligned with their core values. In fact the 2022 Edelman Trust Barometer found that 60% of workers say they will choose their workplace based on their beliefs and values.
As you weigh a career switch, look at the company’s culture and talk to your future colleagues about their experience. Research the organization on review sites and on social media to see whether they “walk the talk.” When you make a move in your 40s, it’s essential to find an environment that will meet your monetary needs without sacrificing authenticity. With job openings plentiful, the time is right to find a role that reflects all your aspirations – both financial and otherwise.