When Taking a Pay Cut Is a Good Move
By Margaret Steen, for Yahoo! HotJobs
Taking a new job with higher pay shows that everything is going right with your career. But that doesn't mean taking a job that pays less than your last one is always the wrong move.
Experts cite some situations when you should consider taking a job at lower pay:
Returning to the Workforce
If you haven't worked for a time, you may not be able to return at the salary you were making when you left. Companies don't have to lure you away from a high-paying job, and they may be put off by your lack of recent experience. The pay cut may not be permanent, though.
Susan W. Miller, a career counselor and owner of California Career Services in Los Angeles, worked with one client who had been a director before he became ill and had to stop working for a couple of years. After he recovered, he looked for a new job.
"He was not going to be able to earn at the same level he was at," she said. Instead, he started as a manager at lower pay. "Now he has a history of success, so it's likely that after another couple of years, he will in fact be back to where he was."
If you decide to move to a new industry or a new type of work, you will likely find that your years of experience in your current field don't count for much when it comes to pay. And if you're leaving an industry that typically pays well to go to one that doesn't -- for example, moving from a for-profit company to a nonprofit -- the shock can be even greater.
For example, newly minted attorneys can earn $160,000 per year, Miller said. "I can assure you that a first year in almost any other career is not going to earn $160,000 per year."
Sometimes even the most successful workers reach a point where they would prefer a less-intense job with less travel, even if it means less money.
"Candidates have stepped back dramatically in pay to get off the road," said Kathryn Ullrich, an executive recruiter in Silicon Valley. Others are simply looking for more flexible hours, such as the ability to leave work to attend a child's soccer game.
And if you're not in one of these situations, but are simply offered a job comparable to the one you have, at lower pay? Tread carefully: It could be a sign you're being asked to move from a top-tier employer to a second-rate one, or that your potential employer is not willing to invest in its employees.
Still, it might be a good move, depending on the circumstances. Will it save you an hour of commuting each day? Are you unhappy with your current job? Is your new employer willing to grant you a salary review in six months?
If so, consider taking it. In the long run, you'll do better at a job you enjoy -- and this will make you more attractive to other employers.
"Even though you're going to be making less money, you're going to be shining brighter, and others will notice that," said Cynthia Kivland, a career coach in Prairie Grove, Illinois.