I spend a lot of time helping people find their perfect job — their inspiring work. And when we discuss the many facets of a potential job offer, inevitably salary ranks pretty high on the priority list. Many people feel their salary is directly related to their worth in their organization, and by proxy their self-worth. Taking a pay cut for a new role can be financially challenging as well as personally demoralizing. Still, there are some reasons to seriously consider a salary reduction:
- There are financial tradeoffs. This is the most clear-cut reason. Maybe your salary takes a cut, but the benefits package is much richer. This makes it not a true pay cut — more of a restructuring. If the new structure meets your needs, consider it a win.
- For your sanity. Some people just don’t do well not working. If being out of work has led you to a daytime television addiction or you need something to motivate you to get out of your pajamas, it may be worth taking a step backwards in position and/or pay. The positive effect of being a productive contributor to society can not only lift your overall spirits, it can create a more positive attitude with which to start looking for that next position — the one that makes your financial picture whole.
- It represents a growth opportunity. Sometimes your career is a one step forward, two steps back proposition. But if that step back puts you in a better overall position, it can be worthwhile. Think about what opportunities may become available by taking this new position. Maybe it opens you to a new job function, a new industry, or even puts you to work under a fantastic mentor. All of these can be great long-term strategic plays.
- A great corporate culture. Here’s my dream office: I can wear bunny slippers at my desk. There are free lattes in the break room. I get six weeks paid vacation. The corporate retreat is at a posh spa in Hawaii. The product is cutting edge and I feel like I’m bragging when I tell people what I do for a living. Since more money doesn’t mean more happiness, but bunny slippers do, this could be a very fair trade.
- You’re burned out. You’ve been playing the high-stress corporate game for a while now, and the idea of being a corporate leader has lost its luster. Taking a step back in responsibility could bring you a proportional step back in frustration.
- As part of a strategy for world domination. That may be a stretch, but often if you’re going to be doing a new function, agreeing to a short-term concession in salary gives the organization enough time to see you prove your worth. Often, there’s an agreement to review compensation in six months, for instance. All you have to do is dazzle in the meantime.
- For the fun of it. If you know in your core that this job will keep you excitedly jumping out of bed in the morning, the numbers on the paycheck become less significant. What better pay than passion?
The lesson: don’t get caught up thinking that your pay equals your importance, and look for jobs that enrich your life in other ways. Closing yourself off to opportunity will likely cost you more in the long run.
About the author: Kristi Daeda is a success coach for professionals in all phases of career transition, including career planning, clarifying goals, adopting and communicating a personal brand, developing a job search strategy, and effective job search tactics. She blogs on career development, leadership, and job search at Career Adventure.