“WHAT?” I hear your brain scream. “It’s not meant to be like that – I’m meant to go UP in the pay scale and the world. What is this crazy internal recruiter banging on about now……..”. Well, what I am banging on about is potentially one of the best steps you might take in your career – to take a pay cut.
Having come from a property background some time ago, I am very familiar with the phrase “your home is NOT worth what you need to buy your next house”. Meaning – just because you want to live in a different suburb/have an extra garage/get into a school zone it doesn’t increase the value of your current home. The same goes with jobs – just because you want a certain type of experience or position it doesn’t mean your value increases! I’m not saying you’re not valuable – but what I am saying is just because you want a certain type of experience it doesn’t mean you’re necessarily going to get a pay increase!
A good career path has logical steps, diversification of role and normally a number of industries or business functions. For the leaders of today (or tomorrow) in my business I’m looking for someone who has a wide variety of skills and experiences – someone who is well rounded in their career. To get all of that experience under your belt you need to make smart career moves. Sometimes those career moves can have short term pain, for substantial long term gain especially in the salary stakes.
Personally, I think you should look at taking a pay cut if:
- You want to switch careers / industries / get experience in something you have limited exposure to. This can be the short term pain model – the pay off is that in time you will have a much more diverse working background and expand your skill set. You might have to start lower down the ladder to work yourself back up again. Work hard, rewards will come.
- If you are going to start your own business. It’s tough out there. Expect to not make any money for a while (and if you do – that’s a great achievement). Have a robust business plan in place, get mentors and work hard. Also, try to have some savings put away before you branch out!
- When you’re following your dreams (or your heart). Sometimes following your dream career path can be the most rewarding. You might have always wanted to get into photography, early childcare education or dog walking. Whatever it is, sometimes following your true passion can have far better benefits than continuing on in a job you hate.
- To go part time. Across your career you may want to go part time, have shortened hours or gain further balance in your week due to other commitments. In some roles you might be able to make this work without taking a pay cut! However if you won’t be delivering the same outputs or another person is needed to job share with you, consider taking a pay cut to make it happen – it might just be the best thing for your health/family/life etc.
On a personal note, when I got into recruitment I took one heck of a pay cut. I went from a great account management job with one of the world’s biggest FMCG companies (including a company car, great benefits, bonus and great base etc) to an agency recruitment job……. I’ll leave it at that and you can fill in the gaps! I will say that I got to work with one of the best (and most inspiring) managers I’ve ever had, earned my recruitment stripes and by taking that pay cut it led me to the career path I’ve always wanted to do – recruitment.
Now, I’m not advocating that you go out tomorrow looking for an lower paying job! It has to be aligned with your goals, your lifestyle (yes…. it does pay off to check if you can actually afford it first) and your family.
However, if I can leave you with one thought from this blog post, it’s this:
If you’re too hung up on holding onto a salary figure, a job grading or a title – then you’re going to be missing out and more than likely impacting your future career options.
I’d love to know your pay cut stories in the comments if you have one!