The million dollar question you've asked yourself at 3 in the morning: should you take a job just for money? It depends...
If you are looking for a new job, and you have a choice, don't choose a job offer just because the money is better. Although it's great to make more money (and anyone who says money doesn't matter has never been poor), money will not make you happy if your job or boss sucks. The only time to choose because of the money is if all options sound equally awesome but one pays more. In that case, yeah, go for the money, you deserve it 🙂
If you are looking to quit a toxic work environment, or have been unemployed after leaving or being let go from a toxic environment, consider your mental health and well-being first. Toxic workplaces can lead to depression, trigger PTSD, and compound feelings of low or negative self worth. It is bad enough to experience it once, but two times in a row could leave you in a worst situation than before, and not just mentally. A bad boss or a team that is not a good match for you will not give you the references and encouragement you need to land the next great gig. Money is not worth risking your well-being or long term goals. So never prioritize money after a toxic work experience. Focus instead on taking care of yourself and finding a team that is kind and supportive of all you bring to the organization. It might cost you in the short term, but trust me, you'll be much better off in the long run.
If you are truly broke, and money worries are keeping you up at night, you fear being evicted, etc, you might need to get any job that pays. If this is the case, don't worry about whether it is in your field or not, get anything, but don't stop looking for the right fit. And always make sure to avoid any place that feels bad in your gut.
Know how much you absolutely need to live and how much you'd like to make - and is realistic in your field. Then, assuming all job offers you are looking at are within that range, here are other factors to prioritize over money:
- Kindness - I now consider this my top requirement for everything. Is everyone you are interacting with during the job application and interview process kind? Kindness solves most problems and makes for a really great work environment. I really cannot stress this enough.
- Your boss - a bad boss will make your life hell. A good boss will make you want to wake up and go to work every morning, and might even skyrocket your career
- Will you get to do what you love to do?
- Will you get to use your innate talents?
- Is this job going to help you move towards your long-term career goals?
- Is this job in an industry you would like to continue to work in? E.g. healthcare vs. SaaS vs entertainment. It's tricky to switch industries, although possible, so best to stick with the one you already know you like/want.
- Does the team/company share your values? Always have a list of things that are important to you - and make sure you do not compromise. These should not be "nice to have" things, but must-haves. It could be that you need health insurance for your children, or a short commute, or good work-life balance. Or maybe you want to be part of a team that works around the clock because this is the time in your career to work 60+ hours a week. Whatever your must-haves are, do not compromise on them just for the money.
Focusing just on money will make you miserable. This is why I recommend being realistic about money, while pursuing what makes you happy. For example, understand that if you want to make a 6-figure salary, being a UX designer is a lot easier than being a freelance photographer. However, if you hate UX, and are dead set on photography, don't quit your passion. Adjust your money expectations. If you find out photography doesn't pay enough, look into possible careers that will pay you more and you still enjoy. Unless it's a real emergency, never, ever, take a job you hate - chances are you'll be terrible at it, and miserable to boot.