By Brian Spero
Technology employers continue to struggle to find the right people to fill open positions, which is a good thing for people who are looking for work. Those with the right set of skills and experience can find themselves weighing several offers at once, a notion that has more IT professionals weighing the possibility of jumping to new company.
As they mull things over, though, many job seekers don’t pay nearly enough attention to the financial implications of a job search, and the change itself. Before you embark on your search, consider these four financial topics to ensure your transition is as smooth as it can be.
Take Aim at the Right Opportunity
Your skills and experience are going to play the most prominent role in determining your prospects, but it’s important to gain a perspective of the broader job market in strategically planning for a change. From a financial standpoint, compensation always remains in the foreground, but other factors to consider include the potential for growth, opportunities to acquire new skills, long-term sustainability and job security, not to mention your personal happiness.
Often, more pay means longer hours and increased pressure, which you should appropriately factor against the base salary and incentives in addition to other factors. For instance, will you be required to relocate? This could dramatically affect your cost of living or add distance and expenses to your daily commute.
It’s also wise to weigh the benefits of attaining additional certifications and education, which often provide a healthy return on your investment when focused toward enhancing your eligibility for positions in well-paying, high-prospect areas, such as software development or database administration.
Compare the Peripheries
There are times when the writing on the wall is in a big bold-faced warning, and others when it’s barely a scrawl. Before taking the plunge, analyze everything you’re signing up for in contrast to all you’re leaving behind. The job market is strong and the overall market is showing signs of sustainable growth, so contemplate when will be the most advantageous time to search for a new position.
In some cases, you might be a year or two away from being fully vested in your company-sponsored 401k, making it necessary to weigh the impact of what you will might be giving up. If you ultimately decide that, all things considered, a job change is the right move, be sure to consult a financial professional to ensure that any company-sponsored retirement funds are efficiently rolled over. And be warned: If you don’t do this right not only will your investments take a hit, but you could end up with a sizable tax bill, as well.
Other factors to consider are how your current benefits stack up against what you’re being offered, including everything from the structure of the retirement plan to the amount of paid vacation time and leave. One of the most influential, yet often overlooked, aspects of switching jobs is changes to your health insurance. Be sure to take time to gather all the details of your potential employer’s plans, costs, options and comparable quality.
Prepare For the Unknown
As exciting as finding a new job can be, it can be stressful financially. Experts advise working professionals devote 10 percent or more from each paycheck to savings in order to be covered in retirement as well as during periods of emergency. As you gear up to make your job change, strive to increase the percentage of money you’re diverting into an investment or savings account, making sure that you can access it without penalties in the event you experience a gap in employment or a delay in benefits.
You should also prepare to cover temporary healthcare costs, whether paying out-of-pocket or for extended COBRA coverage. It’s a good idea to run a credit check on yourself before you start your search. This will give you the opportunity to rectify any negative or erroneous information that could impact your candidacy. At the same time, it can help make sure you have access to lines of credit in case of an emergency.
After you’ve accepted your new, hopefully high-paying job, continue to focus on building your savings to guard against the unknown. Even when you’ve diligently researched your employer and received assurances of job security, there’s always the potential that things won’t work out. Whether you end up unhappy with your new position or the company suffers an unexpected collapse, it’s good to know that you’ll have enough cash on hand to cover you for at least six months without impacting your long-term savings. After any probationary period has run its course and you’re firmly entrenched, you can splurge on that big-screen TV, or whatever it is, that you promised yourself.
Analyze Your New Financial Situation
Whether you’re able to land your dream job with a big pay hike or made a lateral move to put your career on a better track for growth, your first order of business is to analyze your new financial outlook. Hopefully you’re already accustomed to living on a budget (otherwise it’s something to consider), so you know what your monthly expenditures are, how much you need to put away for savings and retirement and the amount you have earmarked as expendable. You need to go much deeper than adding or subtracting the difference in salary, taking the time to consider multiple factors from the ways in which your cost of living may be impacted, to how to strategically compensate for any increase or decrease in funds.
Also, this is a good time to seek the advice of an accountant or financial planner. If you’re making more money, it’s likely that your tax situation will shift, so the excess pay might not be as great as it appears on paper. A new financial plan may uncover ways to counteract tax hits through write-offs and investments, as well as ways to accelerate the growth of your assets and retirement savings.
They say the time to strike is while the iron is hot. As a tech professional, you’re in an enviable position as your survey a growing landscape of job opportunities. By researching profitable and secure job sectors, making comprehensive calculations relating to compensation and benefits, preparing for the unknown and analyzing the dynamics created by the change, you can successfully make the switch while protecting yourself financially.
What other tips can you suggest to tech professionals seeking new employment? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
Brian Spero is a financial columnist for Money Crashers, where he writes about careers and job hunting, small business, money management, and technology.