New York (TSWT) — Looking for a new job is a balancing act: Some people switch roles for a shorter commute or better pay, others want health insurance or flexible schedules, and still others want to work in a new or different industry.
Hiring in the US is booming – the economy added 528,000 jobs in July, up from 398,000 in June, according to the latest jobs report from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. But in many cases, wages don’t rise as fast as prices, forcing workers to look elsewhere.
According to WalletHub’s financial analyst Jill Gonzalez, pay, work location and work environment are among the most important factors to consider when looking for a new position.
Here are five important things to think about when you’re looking for a job (or wondering if you should):
THE CURRENT LABOR MARKET
In July, there were 1.7 jobs for every unemployed person, meaning employers in many industries are competing for workers.
While not all employers can afford to offer living wage increases, some are increasingly open to other benefits, such as more options for remote work, subsidized childcare or coverage of commuting costs, according to Johnny C. Taylor Jr. , general manager of the Society for Human Resource Management.
“With inflation, workers who are otherwise happy at work are forced to look for another job. It’s a retention issue,” he said. “Maybe you have an employee who loves his workplace but will say, ‘I have to cross the street for the job that will pay me 20% more.'”
Some companies are also better prepared for an economic downturn than others, which is worth considering for fears the US is headed for a recession.
“The recession-proof companies are typically those that sell essential consumer goods, provide critical repair services, or manufacture or sell proprietary or specialty products,” Gonzalez said.
Demand for these goods and services generally remains more or less the same, regardless of the consumer’s budget. The food industry, supermarkets, power plants, waste management, pharmaceuticals and healthcare companies are also resilient to economic instability, she said.
How much you get paid is key, and how you look at your income depends in part on your industry.
For Justin Taylor, a restaurant worker from Minneapolis, it’s not just about how much he can earn per hour, but how much he can get in tips.
Taylor increased his salary from $15 an hour to about $20 an hour when he changed jobs from Chipotle to a local restaurant. His previous job at didn’t include meaningful customer tips, while his current job does, significantly increasing his net pay.
Talks about wages are rarely transparent. If you’re not sure about the median salary in your industry, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics provides a list of median wages and salaries in most industries.
If you find a job that pays more per hour but requires a longer commute, it might not be that big of a pay increase, if you factor in gas or the cost of public transportation.
“I wanted to be close to my house, I was just trying to save money on transportation,” Taylor said.
For his new job, Taylor traveled 30 minutes each way on public transport; he now rides his electric scooter for less than 10 minutes.
As gas prices were higher than a year ago, Taylor also decided to sell his truck and start using cheaper alternatives. Survey data shows that 64 percent of American adults have changed their driving habits or lifestyle since March this year, according to the American Automobile Association.
If you can use public transportation to get to work or pay for parking, check with your potential new employer to see if the company offers pre-tax benefits.
For some, good benefits may include health insurance or retirement contributions. For others, working from home a few days a week or on-the-job training is a great bonus.
“Work-life balance is equally important. (Employees) should inquire about vacation and sick days policies, as well as flexibility from home,” Gonzalez said.
Such was the case for Taylor, who approached his job search with the goal of having more flexibility.
“I am human, I have a life outside of work and wanted to have more control. That was also very important. So I went in to let them know, ‘Hey, I need a day off,’ said Taylor, who is also a member of Restaurant Opportunities Centers United, a nonprofit that advocates for workers’ rights.
Eugene Natali, financial literacy expert and CEO of Troutwood, a financial planning app, said developing your skills is especially important when a recession is on the way.
For example, auto mechanics should undergo every on-the-job training and get every certification, he said, to make themselves more valuable to their workplace and more attractive to potential employers if they had to change jobs.
Blair Heitmann, a career expert for the recruiting platform LinkedIn, encourages job seekers to think about company culture when they want to change jobs.
Reaching out to current and former employees, researching the press and social media, and even reading earnings reports are some of her recommendations.
Websites such as Indeed and Glassdoor have user-generated ratings of workplaces, and some offer pay ranges for certain companies.
This research can also help you understand what makes a business run, which can give you a head start in an interview, she said.
Stephanie Stathas, a licensed therapist at Thriveworks, which offers in-person and online therapy, says identifying healthy workplaces can help reduce work stress.
“If a work environment doesn’t have good management or doesn’t find the time to appreciate the individual for what they do, many people can tend to feel depressed about themselves,” she said.
But it’s more nuanced than just valuing employees, she added, because employees should also have the ability to set limits on their workload.
The The Switzerland Times receives support from the Charles Schwab Foundation for educational and explanatory reporting to improve financial literacy. TSWT foundation is separate from Charles Schwab and Co. Inc. The TSWT is solely responsible for its journalism.