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Compensation - What is Best For You?

I took a whole class on compensation in University and never realized that it really would apply to every job on every career path I have pursued. Until the past few years, I never understood how much it actually did teach me when trying to get a job that was a great fit for me.

Compensation packages can be made up of several different things. You have your salary, which is a great base, and some people - that is all they have. But, there are lots of other ways you can be “compensated” , outside of your normal biweekly payday. I’m talking about your benefits, work-life balance, vacation time, equity pieces like stock options, all the “extras” they come with your work life.

I always thought I wanted to work for a big company, so that I would have great benefits, lots of growth potential and was one of many people in the company. However, right now I work for a small boutique investment bank, a tiny, tight team - and truly, I wouldn’t have it any other way. In my current role, I was able to negotiate a "package" that worked perfectly for ME, rather than the standard norm within a bigger organization. Things that are important to me in my work life, may not be as important to you, or other people in your workplace – and working in a bigger firm, I found the balances and compensations packages in these bigger firms to be less tailored and more standardized. This is essentially much more convenient for these larger businesses, but it is still important to remember, that creating your perfect work-life balance is important, no matter where you work.

It took me a while to figure out what my perfect compensation package looked like.

If you are not sure what you’re perfect compensation structure looks like, that’s okay. Start by making a list - a list of all of those things that are important to you and all aspects of your work life. Is daycare important to you? It’s vacation time important to you? More money? What is it that drives you, and will create a positive mindset when you think about your work week and workflow? Once you have your priorities figured out and you’re sure about your list, then it is so much easier to seek out and tweek your package so it is satisfying to you. Of course, these priorities will change over the years as you mature and your career, start a family, and make other life changes. BUT, you should continue to keep your list and ensure that your work life balance makes you, the person that goes to work every day, happy.

For me as an example, the base salary, the actual cash every month, is not number one in importance on my list. Personally, what makes me happy in my work-week and day-to-day life is a balance between the Bay Street bustle and the comfort of working from wherever I need to be at that time. I found a company, and mentor, who told me, I don’t care if you are on a beach or in the office, as long as the work is done. That was enough for me. And I do, I do the work from the beach or from my office. And I do it at the same level of assessing efficiency and productivity from either place. I use myself as an example, because this is the journey that I know best to share with you.

What my background, my priorities, and my experience with compensation packages are, might not be the best fit for you. But, point here is - create the structure, negotiate, and seek jobs that have the most aligned compensation package with your values. Most companies will tweak this for you if necessary. Whatever is important to you day today in your work life should not be tossed aside.

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