08.12.2021

If you prioritise salary… here’s why not to

It’s understandable to be concerned about salary, we don’t just work for fun! For the vast majority of people looking for a new job, salary is one of their top priorities.

If you are anything other than at the very top of your game in Law Firm Risk & Compliance, it can be a good idea to delay prioritising a high salary for as long as possible. While this might sound counter-intuitive and may not be doable for everyone, it could well help you get to where you want to be long-term.

The currency that will provide you with higher salaries long-term in your career is the experience you can offer our future employer/s. What you’ve done, where you’ve done it, and the exposure you have had will ultimately unlock those higher salaries.

So, the value of any given opportunity is much more about the exposure you’re going to get than the salary they’re offering.

Obviously, everyone wants to be paid fairly for what they do and to be able to pay the bills, but you should definitely weigh the exposure you’re going to get very heavily.

One way to approach this is to stop looking at salary as an annual thing: your career is more than one year long. If we thought of salaries in 5-year blocks or month by month, things might seem different.

Say you’ve been working in Risk & Compliance for four or five years, it’s important to remember you might have potentially thirty to forty years left in your career. You’ve got to play the long game.

Should you have the choice between a role with high exposure and a lower salary and a role with less exposure but more money, the former is going to benefit you the most long-term. It’s easy to think that a higher salary equals a better job and therefore a better career choice, but early in a Risk & Compliance career, it’s likely this may not be the case. Take a step back and look at the next five to ten years and consider which doors more exposure might open for you, and which doors a higher salary might actually close.

If you choose a well-paid but narrow role, you risk being pigeon-holed. Early on in your career, there may be opportunities to make big leaps in salary by taking narrow roles because, ultimately, fewer people are willing to take them and so firms have to pay more.

Once stuck in a narrow speciality with little to no experience of other areas of Risk & Compliance, it can be very difficult to broaden your horizons, especially if you're on a high salary. If you want to progress, a pay cut and a step down could be necessary. Even if you're willing to do this and can afford to, it's not guaranteed that firms won't be put off. Employers can be hesitant to hire people who are taking a paycut as it can raise concerns about their potential longevity in the role.

By increasing your earnings over the next year, you are actually reducing your earnings over a longer period, for example the next ten years.

Stop thinking of salary on a year by year basis, and instead think of the trajectory of your salary over the decades your whole career will span.


If you'd like some help planning your career please call our consultants on 0207 117 2542, email us on info@ajfoxcompliance.com, or message us on LinkedIn.

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Posted by: AJ Fox Compliance