Job Security vs. Compensation: Which One Matters More?

Job Security vs. Compensation: Which One Matters More?
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Long-Term Employment vs. Temporary Employment

At some time in our careers, most of us will have to weigh the benefits of job security versus compensation. The current economic climate is very challenging for both new graduates and long-term employees.

New graduates may be considering their options and wondering if temporary employment options are a good way to build their resume. Workers who have been victims of mass layoffs may also be considering temporary employment until such time as their company begins rehiring or they find a more suitable position.

In some cases, these decisions involve money while in others, it may involve tenure. In many cases, the age of the person, their current financial status and in some cases their long-term employment outlook, will have to be considered. Here are some of the ways that these decisions will differ between different people.

Fresh Out of College

When one graduates from college and prepares to enter the workforce, there are many things to be taken into consideration. While compensation may be important, it may be just as important to build up some experience on a resume. Many college students are uncertain when they enter the workplace where their skills can be best put to use. This often will mean that they may consider temporary employment especially if they are single.

Temporary employment after college can open new doors for a new graduate. They can explore different companies, exercise their skills, earn money and not be locked into making a long-term decision about where to work. In many cases, these college grads may be more concerned about compensation for a number of reasons:

Student loans: According to CNN Money, graduates in 2009 owed an average $24,000 at the time of graduation. Students graduating college under this debt burden are interested in paying off student loans to improve their overall financial situation.

Retirement saving: With the uncertainty of the job market, low interest rates on savings and the uncertainty of social security, saving for retirement becomes far more important for new graduate.

Saving for the future: In addition to retirement savings and paying down student loans, many college graduates are considering marriage and home ownership.

All of these factors combined mean that many college grads are more interested in strong compensation packages that will benefit their financial future. College students are far more likely to elect to make a career change for additional money than for added security.

Parents of Young Family

Young Family

Whether one parent or both are working in family, their priorities are often very different than those of the new college graduate. Many young parents have completely paid off their college loans, but they still have debt with which to contend. The type of debt is where the difference lies. While parents may still be concerned about good compensation for their work, they are more likely to be more concerned about job security over the long run for the following reasons:

Mortgage payments: Young parents who have purchased a home can put their entire financial future at risk if they lose their jobs. Many couples invest their life savings into the down payment on their home, which is typically their primary asset. While a job loss for one parent may not be crippling, both parents are almost always focused on job stability versus changing jobs frequently.

Insurance premiums: Young parents also have to be concerned about premium payments for life insurance, medical insurance and in some cases, dental insurance. This is in addition to costs for automobile and homeowner’s insurance. These payments are going to continue to be due each month, whether the parents are working or not;

Children’s future: Unlike the recent college graduate who is typically single, young parents need to be concerned not only about their own future, but the future of their children. This often involves not only paying for the care of their children (while they are working) but also involves saving for future education and in some cases, payment for private schools while their children are young.

While young parents are still interested in getting paid a good wage and having a good compensation package, in many cases they will be focused more on long-term employment. Just as the college student who is saving for their future, young parents are saving for retirement, making home and car payments, and making sure they are saving for the education of their children.

Career Changes After 50

Typically by age 50, most individuals have made their career choices and are not particularly interested in taking any risks. Chances are that employees in this age group are more interested in long-term employment stability. There are numerous reasons for this such as retirement getting closer and the fact that finding work after this age is far more challenging.

In 2009, US News stated that the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that “…the typical laid-off worker age 55 and over was unemployed for 28.6 weeks in July, compared with 23.4 weeks for younger workers…”.

Based on these types of statistics, the prospect of returning to work after a layoff or considering a career change can be intimidating. Many workers who have reached age 50 are working for companies that they may have been with for several years, which means that they probably have a good compensation package and the desire to keep their job is more important to them as they near retirement.

Life Stages Matter

Every employee will have to determine which is more important to their long-term career goals: job security or compensation. There may be different times in one’s life when both will be important and other times when one is more important than the other. Job satisfaction is not always measured by how much a person is making or their compensation package. However, job satisfaction can be impacted by how much stability is being offered.



  1. Blake Ellis, “College grads: $24,000 in debt”, CNNMoney_,_ (October 22, 2010),
  2. University of California Top 10 Career Myths
  3. Brandon, Emily, “6 Tips for Dealing with Age Discrimination,” US News & World Report Money, US News/Money

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