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Growth Vs. Compensation

This is how we want our growth and compensation to change over time. (Credit: Hartley Brody)

At the start of your career, should you pick a job that pays the most or one that you can rapidly increase your skills and proficiency?

Is it really either or? Why not both?

I've been thinking about this question for a while. To be clear - one doesn't necessarily have to choose either growth or compensation. Some roles and jobs have both.

The catch is that these roles are few and far between, and your skill set has to match what an employer needs at the right time. If an opportunity like what I'm describing falls into your lap, hang on to it and don't let go.

Outside of rare opportunities like that, the majority of jobs out there will be either geared more towards growth or compensation, not both. Then, the question I've posed rears its head again.

My answer: optimize for growth, and the compensation will follow. The rationale behind my answer relies on a few aspects:

  1. I'm young and don't need a lot of money to live life: this point was made evident in grad school. It's known that grad students aren't paid well, but enough to live on. I'm honestly thankful for having lived on a low salary before getting my first job, because I know how to make do with what I need, instead of trying to stretch myself financially to get what I want.

  2. I still have a lot of professional interests that I want to explore: joining a rotational program has really worked out for me because I have the opportunities to explore other skills such as software and business. If I had just gotten a regular job where I had one or to primary tasks to complete, I would have the chance in that role to discover what else I'm good at or interested in.

  3. In a highly compensated role, it's expected you'll have depth, not breadth: If you're being paid a lot for a job, it's because you're a domain expert in a particular field or you've served in executive positions (e.g., C-suite, VP) in a highly in-demand corporate function. This makes a lot of sense given the further along you've gotten in your career, the more experience you have in a particular area or skill.

Of course, there's a lot of factors that are not explicitly considered in the rationale I just laid out for you (e.g., student loans, financially dependent loved ones, having a significant other/partner, etc.). But for a young, single male (or female) with no dependents, I think my reasons and thought process make a lot of sense.

(I'm writing every day on the blog while sharing my posts to Facebook every Sunday. Make sure to subscribe at the bottom of the post!)

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