Why It’s Okay to Take a Pay Cut

Taking a Pay CutAs our economy changes, the rules about salary do too. Currently, salaries are taking a beating in the economy. Some workers who were laid off worry about their salary history and that this could disqualify them from job opportunities. Those who still have their jobs are often asked to take a pay cut, even while having the same responsibilities.


Everybody is looking for a career that can provide financial support and stability, and this often comes in the form of a pay cut. Given the recent changes in the job market, taking a salary cut is sometimes the right move. When is it okay to take a pay cut? Here are situations where it’s the right thing to do:

  • Change of career. When a job change forces you to take your expertise to a new industry or literally change your career, you have to accept a lower salary. You are going to stop doing something that you have extensive experience in and start doing something you have not actually done before. Therefore, you’ll be asked to take a pay cut and that’s perfectly reasonable.
  • Age matters. If you are 40 and searching for a job, expect a pay cut unless you are a surgeon or a lawyer. A little less pay shouldn’t hurt too much, whereas holding out for a higher salary could lead to ongoing unemployment.
  • An extended period of unemployment. Normally, you are required to take a pay cut when re-entering the workforce. Instead of being choosy, just take a job. You are out of work and you need money to pay your bills. It will be better to take a low-paying job than to have no job at all.
  • Relocating back. Studies show that happiness is gained if you are closer to your family. So if you want to go back to where your family is, you also have to face the fact that you will probably be taking a salary cut. Close relationships are essential to achieving true happiness, so you should be able to put the pay cut in perspective.
  • Great Boss. Often, having a boss who can be a great mentor matters more than the job itself. One of the factors that determine your earning power is the quality of the mentoring you get. To take a pay cut is okay because what matters most is the knowledge you’ll gain.
  • Mental health problems. Work can provide a number of essential things: a sense of belongingness, a sense of purpose, financial security, balance and structure. When you’re not at work, you get bored and feel a loss of self-worth. With that, your mental state also changes. Being at the workplace can keep you sane, so you might just have to deal with a reduction in pay.
  • Insurance issues. Taking a pay cut in order to keep your insurance is like purchasing peace of mind. If accepting a pay cut is what you have to do to ensure that you won’t be bankrupt, then it’s definitely worth it.
  • Keeping the current job. If you are forced to choose between taking a pay cut and losing your job, choose the first option. You can take the pay cut while searching for a new job. Typically, employers prefer to hire people who are employed over those who are not. Besides, the last thing you need is a gap in your employment history.

Always remember that your salary doesn’t determine your value as a worker. Instead of thinking about it as a measure of your worth, think of it as the market’s bid for your skills, knowledge, and experience. Acquire and develop your self-worth from a wide variety of things so a pay cut won’t be a problem for you. The components of a good job are learning, personal growth, colleagues, and a good family life; all of these things are worth a lot more than a salary cut.

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Alan Carniol

Alan is the creator of Interview Success Formula, a training program that has helped more than 80,000 job seekers to ace their interviews and land the jobs they deserve. Interviewers love asking curveball questions to weed out job seekers. But the truth is, most of these questions are asking about a few key areas. Learn more about how to outsmart tough interviewers by watching this video.