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Why You Should Never Take Pay Over Experience

The Leadership Insiders network is an online community where the most thoughtful and influential people in business contribute answers to timely questions about careers and leadership. Today’s answer to the question “In choosing a career, how much should pay matter? is by Michael Massari, senior vice president of national meetings and events at Caesars Entertainment.

There comes a point in every young professional’s life when they have to make a tough decision: Do I take the pay or the experience?

When you first start out, the pay is generally low and the hours can be long. While being able to pay the bills is an important consideration, I’d caution you not to chase a new opportunity just because it pays better. I’d say to remove money from your career decision completely. Instead, focus on a path that allows you to build a strong foundation of experiences that act as building blocks toward your long-term career goals. What you’ll find is that turning down the opportunity to make money fast now will set you up for long-term career success in the future—success that will not only make you that money tenfold, but will also put you in a position to continue to grow for years to come.

Here’s what you should really consider when choosing a career:

Understand your career path
Think of where you want to be 15 years from now. What skills and jobs do you need to get there? Your answer should be your driving force when choosing your career path—not salary. It’s critical that you are thoughtful about each step you take in your career and understand how that will lead you to reaching your goals in becoming the director, senior vice president, or CEO. When you’re having a hard time paying the rent, saving money, or paying student loans, turning down a salary increase can be difficult advice to take, but it’s vital to stay motivated by the bigger picture—and it will pay you back exponentially in the long run.

Network, network, network
While building the skills for your next position is key, networking and creating solid, professional relationships are both critical in achieving your ultimate career goals. I recently accomplished a personal goal by spearheading the opening of the Waterfront Conference Center at Harrah’s Atlantic City. But without the support of my connections with whom I’d built solid relationships over the years, this vision would not have been the success that it is today.

Who you know can give you access to an enormous market of opportunities that aren’t as accessible to those outside of the circle. Connections can also act as resources when you’re looking for advice or perspectives on different potential career moves, and each connection has the ability to introduce you to their own network—further building out the world of possibilities for your professional career and knowledge.

 

Invest in the right career for you
Know what your dream job is and understand what you’ll need to do to get there. Don’t try to skip steps or be lured by lucrative offers. Be patient and seize opportunities to learn so you’re prepared for your dream job when it comes knocking.

When I was 27 years old, I worked as a sales manager at the Franklin Plaza Hotel in Philadelphia. At the time, I was getting constant calls from recruiters looking for a director of sales at hotels throughout the city. I declined all of these offers, and instead waited for the right opportunity when I moved across the country to Las Vegas to work as a sales manager for The Venetian Hotel & Casino. Although this was a lateral move for me and I had turned down higher titles and better pay, I understood the importance of getting the experience of working at a top facility in the industry’s largest market, as opposed to having a loftier title at a smaller hotel.

Take the job that will be an investment in the future—the same way you invested into your education or 401K. The rewards that you’ll receive 15 years from now will make the sacrifices you took in your 20s seem like pennies. Keep your eye on the prize. Once you get there, you’ll see that it was well worth the wait.