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When Is a High-Paying Job Not Worth It?

You've been offered a job that you're not sure about when suddenly the talk turns to salary -- and the employer is prepared to pay you a lot more than you ever imagined. As visions of a new car and luxurious vacations dance in your head, you quickly forget your initial reservations. A nice paycheck can certainly make up for a lot of faults, but it doesn't guarantee happiness.

You’ve been offered a job that you’re not sure about when suddenly the talk turns to salary — and the employer is prepared to pay you a lot more than you ever imagined. As visions of a new car and luxurious vacations dance in your head, you quickly forget your initial reservations. A nice paycheck can certainly make up for a lot of faults, but it doesn’t guarantee happiness.


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Before signing on the dotted line, you have to decide whether or not the job is really worth it. Read on for five instances where a high-paying job could end up costing you more than you bargained for.

Do You Know What You're Worth?

1. It’s not doing your resume any favors. Just because a job benefits your bank account doesn’t mean it’s good for your career. If a job veers dramatically from your chosen career path, it could make it a lot harder to get back on track down the road. While there’s no law against exploring your options at different points in your career, seriously ask yourself if this job will help or hurt your professional goals.

2. It’s an extreme commute. If relocation isn’t an option, you may consider extending your commute in order to make a job work. You may convince yourself that you don’t mind spending hours in the car each day, and that it’s a worthy trade-off. Indeed, millions of people commute an hour or more to work each day. Ultimately, it’s a very personal decision, and only you can decide what’s acceptable for your lifestyle. But ask yourself this: If you have to get up at 5 a.m. every day and you don’t get home until 8 p.m., when will you have time to enjoy your newfound wealth?

3. The company’s values don’t match your own. Say you’re a staunch antismoking activist and you’re offered a job at a marketing agency whose main client is a cigarette company. Or you’re an unswerving democrat who’s been recruited by an extremely conservative company. Will you have to pretend to be someone you’re not to fit in with the company? And are you truly comfortable with disregarding your own principles at the cost of a higher paycheck? Only you can decide how much your values are really worth. But it’s never a good idea to lie to get a job.

4. You don’t like the company culture. Remember: This is a place where you will be spending a pretty large chunk of your life. Do you feel comfortable there, or is it a bad fit? Maybe you’re a creative type who thrives on flexibility. In that case, a straight-laced office setting with endless rules and restrictions could quickly crush your spirit. On the other hand, if you’re an introvert who works best solo, you may not mesh with an overly interactive startup space.

5. It’s not stable. If you’re going to commit to one job over another, you probably want some promise of stability — to know that you’ll still be employed a year or more down the road. But what if a company can’t offer that? Whether they’re a brand-new startup or an established company that’s going through a rough patch, you may want to think twice before committing to something that could leave you jobless in a few months. Realistically assess the company’s staying power. If you’re not confident in their prospects, it might not be worth your time.

No one can predict the future, but hopefully you know enough about yourself to guess if you’ll be happy at a particular job. As hard as it may be, set aside the dollar signs for just a minute and be honest about whether or not the job is truly a good fit for you.

Tell Us What You Think

Have you ever accepted or rejected a job that didn’t pay off in the right way? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.

Michelle Kruse
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18 Comments on "When Is a High-Paying Job Not Worth It?"

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I have accepted a job 7 months which I have just tendered my resignation a week ago. The job paid very well to $120k which is $40k more from my previous company I worked for. But there was a massive catch which I didn’t feel I would progress further in the long run. The work hours are very long plus commuting to work. I was working like 60+ hrs per week which is normal for each individual and also working on Saturdays. I didn’t fit in well with the company culture and the work tasks is very convoluted and difficult… Read more »
Michelle, your 5 Points are excellent. As one of only two (at last check) Certified Professional Career Coaches (CPCC) in the state, the interview, in the end, is everything! Part of interview preparation is “the money question,” which I instruct clients on how to handle if it arises, but NEVER accept, or deny face-to-face. You need to see the entire Offer! You need to conduct research, which is easy with the web, and how to write a counter-Offer since about 95% of the Offers that I see are too low. There are quite a few things involved in the preparation… Read more »

I agree with #4 – “Maybe you’re a creative type who thrives on flexibility. In that case, a straight-laced office setting with endless rules and restrictions could quickly crush your spirit.” I make very good money but I have lost my creative spirit after 13 years 🙁 I used to sing and paint and be a free spirit. These things are no longer my priority or passion.


I recently took a job with a very good salary. I was qualified for the job and I needed a job, so I took it, despite having heard bad things about the company. Well, the money was not worth it. There was constant turnover in my department because the work load was unrealistic. I didn’t want to walk out on the job, but after 2 months, I told my supervisor I was not coming back. I had also developed digestive problems from the stress.

I went to an interview setup by my recruiting agent.The recruiting agent made the company sound so great in that they have placed many people & the people working there are happy.I don’t remember the salary they were offering. Here’s the interesting part.During the interview the manager tells me that employees are paid 40 hours a week on paper but employees pull in 60 hour work week without getting payed any overtime but they give away incentives like movie tickets,color TV’s etc… I’m sorry no Thank You. No amount of money is worth it when u have to actually live… Read more »
nabin kumar

I agree pey scale jobs in India

Soma G

I wish to leave my current job due JND barrier and partiality from authority, rewards and awards here punishable atmosphere rather enjoy and fun to achieve it.


I’ve been burnt by a job that offered a higher-than-average pay rate only to find that the hours were excessive to the point of ridiculous, managerial support was negative and everything that was advertised and promoted as a positive about the company was the opposite of the true situation. If it’s at all possible, find a way to speak to people who have left, find out about the staff turnover and question, question, question.


I just quit a 100k a year job. Due to the company violating safety policies set forth by the DOT and placing their employees in extremely dangerous situations. the stress was getting to me and I never knew when I was going off rotation for my two week break back homebecause the management would book more jobs than they had personality complete them with

You might also keep in mind that the job may well turn out to be several jobs that were combined. I was told up front what the annual salary was for a job I interviewed for (the salary was above my expectations, but not by a huge amount). As the interview progressed, it was slowly becoming apparent that not all of the duties for this position had been listed in the job posting. After some very pointed questions on my part, the interviewer began to squirm and finally admitted that this “new job” was actually three jobs they had combined.… Read more »

In regards to high-paying jobs and corporations, do your homework first. I learned the hard way that if, God forbid, an HR issue comes up, it is far easier for the company to dismiss a contractor than go through a messy HR investigation with a full-time employee. Make discrete inquiries about how contractors are received at the prospective company ahead of time, if you are able to.


Why do people tend to look for jobs where there is “opportunity for advancement “. By looking at a position that way they may never be “in the moment”; rather they start out unhappy in their new job. I’ve been a senior level manager and have seen this happen time and again. Advancement isn’t an obligation obligation of management; it’s based on the needs of the organization and the developing skills of the employee.


To me, a bigger paycheck is always worth it because if anything, it sets the base for next opportunity. Odds are, no hiring manager is going to offer you a bigger pay check simply because… and each job requires some personal sacrifice. Therefore, if you have to sacrifice and work through difficulties, you might as well get paid for it.


Also, the amount of typical hours can make or break a job.

Unfortunately, we don’t always know we don’t like the company culture until we’ve been there long enough to understand it.


I take the following into consideration:
1. Benefits
2. Can I truly do the job?
3. Opportunity for advancement
4. Can I handle the stress levels that come from working with a supervisor that as a OCD personality?

I’ve quit positions with great pay because the stress level was making me sick!


An even more important reason – if you get bored in 6 months time and there is no room for advancement or new / different challenges!


Your BOSS is the biggest make or break. If you don’t think you can work for the person who is hiring you, don’t take the job – life will be miserable.


you forgot a really important reason, getting into a job that is way above your head or you don’t really have the skills to do it. Be honest with yourself.

What Am I Worth?

What your skills are worth in the job market is constantly changing.