Over the years, one of the most frequently asked questions of myself is, “what am I worth?”.

On the surface it would appear to be a fairly straight-forward question, as in “what do you believe I am worth on the market?”.  Like most things in life, the answer is not necessarily black and white.

Value is a function of how valuable certain things in life are to you.

What is YOUR value system? What stage are you at in your career? Are you still climbing the ladder or are you looking for something else at this particular stage of your career? Without necessarily delving into all of the determinants, I simply ask the question, ‘have you placed a value on what is important to you?’.

In a recently concluded search, an individual left her former role to take a position that in point in fact paid less than what she had been earning.

While the difference in compensation was not great, it seemingly flew in the face of conventional wisdom that suggests that you should always make a move that will see you better off financially. The candidate’s former employer made a counter-offer with financial inducements that were enticing. However, the one thing that her former employer could not offer her was the principal motivator in her thought process – a severely reduced commute. The candidate had an opportunity to reduce her commute time by an hour and a half to two hours cumulatively each way every day by moving to her new role.

That represented seven to ten hours of freed up time per week. At her current level of compensation, she was in fact over the course of the year significantly better off (more valuable) when she incorporated the value derived from the distribution of time allocated for family versus work. When initially recruited, I asked her the question, ‘what would that additional family time be worth to you?’.

Commute-time is but one of many factors that an individual should consider when trying to ascertain their worth. If the answer lies strictly in dollars and cents then using standard parameters – eg,  comparable sized companies in similar markets with similar roles to determine one’s worth –  works well.

More often than not though, factors such as corporate culture, flexibility, experience and challenge are others factors like the commute need to be considered.

While not surprising, the good news is that employers are for the most part inclined to gravitate toward candidates whom gave increased compensation as a motivator lower on their priority scale.

In today’s highly competitive job market, perhaps the question should be, how much are these criteria worth to you?