5 ways taking a pay cut can make you richer

 

Money shouldn’t be the only motivator when deciding on a career, and taking a job solely because the pay is appealing can increase the likelihood that the job will not work for you in the long run. Moreover, a potential employer will most likely sense it if you’re not passionate about your role.

“During a recent conversation with a candidate, it became clear that his primary motivation was a pay raise,” said Amy Perrone, a recruiter and vice president of Shelli Herman & Associates. “It was a big red flag. Taking a job primarily for money is a poor short-term objective that, once achieved, has negative long-term implications for everyone involved.”

Perrone said a smart job seeker is motivated by opportunity and fit, as money can lose its appeal very quickly. If you’re considering a career change, here are five instances in which taking a pay cut could actually be to your advantage.

YOU WANT A CAREER CHANGE

You might want to switch to a new field in which you hold little experience. In this case, a lower salary will be appropriate until you have acquired a certain skill level, so estimate the time you need to reach that level and what you need to do to get there. If your new job is in a growing field such as hospitality or health care, your salary could increase rapidly. A change of career might improve your quality of life and provide a more flexible lifestyle, both of which can be worth more than a bigger paycheck.

Martha Funk, a registered nurse at Mount Nittany Medical Center, transitioned from the hectic world of finance in New York City to a more fulfilling career as an RN in rural Pennsylvania. “I knew a license would give me steady employment,” she said. “I like helping people.”

To some extent, she can choose the shifts that she works to accommodate the rest of her life. “Nurses are paid quite well on the whole,” she said. “I can choose my shifts, although my pay is flexible. Nurses can opt for wage payroll or per diem, and some do have to work weekends.”

If you are hesitating with a career move because you are worried about paying your bills, consider taking a loan to cover costs until your salary reaches a livable level. Research job options carefully, and talk to people already in the field to make sure your goals are achievable.

YOU MAKE A LATERAL MOVE

A lateral move that does not involve a higher salary immediately can provide one in the near future. Assuming different responsibilities can open up opportunities. A wise lateral move can expose you to someone from whom you can learn, and the value of that knowledge might more than compensate for a temporary drop in pay.

Ryan O’Donnell is the director of marketing for Avalara. He left a teaching career to assume a marketing internship and has not looked back since. “I started my professional career as a high school mathematics and computer science teacher,” he said. “It only took six years for the business bug to bite me. With MBA in hand, I left teaching and took an internship to get my feet into the world of marketing.”

According to O’Donnell, though there have been ups and downs in his new marketing career, the amount he’s learned and the knowledge and skills he’s gained were well worth it. “It’s been like a second education,” he said.

Although a big change like this can involve a pay cut, try negotiating extra vacation time, bonuses or stock options that might compensate for the financial loss.

YOU’RE NOT PROGRESSING IN YOUR CURRENT JOB

A job that offers no growth is frustrating and can be financially disastrous. Your company might be too small and unable to offer career progression. In this case, it is time to part ways. Otherwise, you are likely to become resentful and unproductive, and your employer might want to hire someone with fewer skills at a lower cost. A move to a larger company with greater scope and resources could provide you with a brighter financial future despite a temporary cut in pay.

A lack of career growth opportunity might also be a reflection of poor management rather than firm resources or needs. If your work environment seems dysfunctional, the business will likely not be sustainable, and you should pursue other options. Poor leadership will not change quickly, and you might have no ability to control your professional situation.

Michele Jennae is an executive coach who has experienced poor management in her attempts to gain additional exposure and skills that would have benefited both her career and the company that employed her. “I once offered to demote myself from operations manager to field manager, as I felt it would allow me to do a better job for the company,” Jennae saud. “They declined, and I resigned.”

When justifying a pay cut, also consider any savings you might gain. For example, you might have a shorter commute that will allow you to save on gas and, if you can telecommute, you can save on multiple expenses.

YOUR HEALTH IS SUFFERING

This is a no-brainer, but it is surprising how many people suffer through miserable jobs not realizing the damage they do to their health and the people around them. According to a survey by The Conference Board, over 50 percent of U.S. workers were dissatisfied with their jobs in 2013. Having to do a job that you dislike is stressful and, over time, that stress can compound. A study by Metro of the U.K. found that hating your job can affect your relationships and sex life. Stress also can affect your ability to sleep, which, in turn, can further stress your immune system and contribute to ill health.

“I just recently coached a sales manager making $70,000 working from home,” Jennae said. “He is also an aspiring author … but he has not been able to make a dent in that space towards his income. He is stressed beyond belief because of the nature of the job. … He came to me because he was ready to take a job bagging groceries just to bring some money in, but we explored other options he could pursue.”

If you would be much happier and less stressed with a job that can provide a more flexible schedule, a salary cut that brings improved health could improve your quality of life overall.

YOU RELOCATE FOR YOUR SPOUSE’S CAREER

My husband and I both left lucrative jobs in the District of Columbia 10 years ago and chose less hectic lifestyles in rural Pennsylvania. I gave up a full-time, well-paid position and started a freelance writing and editing career, which is now full time. I was fortunate, however, to be able to rely on my husband’s income while starting on this new career path. Establishing an income took time, but I now have a job that I love and the flexibility that I was looking for.

A relocation because of a spouse’s career can be an opportunity for the other spouse to pursue a dream or a career change. If you must leave a good-paying job, consider what you would like to do instead and how you can achieve it.

If you’re happy in your current job, approach your current employer to see if remote work might be an option. Companies are realizing that a global market requires global workers, and valued employees might be hard to come by in your geographic area.

YOU COULD BE HAPPIER TAKING A PAY CUT

Many people consider a pay cut to be a backward step in their careers, but the opposite is often the case. Consider how happy you are in your current job and whether you’re progressing professionally. It could be time for a change if your health is suffering, you are questioning the management capabilities of your employer or you can see a path to something more appealing. Think through your work opportunities and your finances carefully before making your move.

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