Flower Exercise Part 5: Defining Your Preferred Salary And Geography

For the last part of the "What Color Is Your Parachute?" Flower Exercise, we are going to look at petals six and seven together. Taken together they represent outcomes of your job choices and how they bring your life more satisfaction.

First, in petal six you are trying to understand the salary and responsibilities you want in a job. It’s not taking your salary history and just advancing along a track, but looking at your expenses in life, whether your salary provides for the life you want, and what sort of increase you might need to accomplish a goal.  After all, you don’t live to work, you work to live; your job should provide the means to live the life you want. Being sure you're content with the work you are doing is the first consideration, but having a clear view of the compensation you need will help you value you work more.

In conjunction with the salary range you are settling on, you should understand the responsibility level you are seeking. Some people prefer to be individual contributors and others get joy in managing a team of contributors. It might also be the time where you decide you don’t want to report to anyone and want to be your own boss. Related to both responsibility level and salary range, you should also consider non-monetary benefits that are important considerations. This might be a flexible work from home policy, an opportunity to serve others, or a specific type of schedule.  These sorts of trade-offs contribute to the cash part of the salary range and are things to consider when negotiating a final salary.

Petal seven looks at the geography of your life. It’s relatively easy to move anywhere you want – so where do you want to live? The time between jobs is ideal for considering the community you want to live in. When reviewing this part, you should look at places you’ve already been, what you liked or disliked about them, and then consider if another location offers more of what you want without the issues you didn't. A great example would be how much you like a snowy and cold winter – do you want to have it at all? Maybe you want a few months of snow but less than where you live now? Or maybe you really love winter and want to go to Alaska so you can have more time to engage in winter activities.  Another example would be to look at the type of community you want. This could be big city life all the way to small city life in a rural area.  What jobs become options in those situations?

With the forced experimentation with remote working due to COVID-19, many companies may realize that they don’t need to invest in so much real estate and they will allow more working from home. Twitter has already announced it will be allowing all employees the option to work from home.  If that’s the case – your geographic options could be extremely wide and even save you money on your own real estate costs.  

With a completed Flower Exercise, your next steps are to practice interviewing, salary negotiation, and assessing the current environment of job searching. We’ll have more in upcoming blog posts on each of these topics.  

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