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Why You Should Never Take Pay Over Experience

Source | Fortune : By Michael Massari

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.

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