When a Pay Cut or Demotion Makes Sense

When a Pay Cut or Demotion Makes Sense

May 31, 2012 Changing Careers

Changing careers requires sacrifices. You may have to give up a prestigious title and its accompanying compensation to enter a new field. Yet, it’s difficult to know when pay cuts and demotions are worthwhile. As a result, I have identified three instances when you should set your ego aside and downsize your lifestyle to take a gig within a desired sector. The instances are when the job a) enables you to solve a challenge that other players in the same sector would pay dearly to tackle, b) catapults you to the heart of where you want to end up, or c) has presented itself multiple times and you’ve thought really hard about accepting that job or a similar one each time.

  1. You get to solve a challenge others would pay dearly to tackle.  Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook CEO, is a great case study. She transitioned from working in the government to digital when she accepted the then undefined role as Google’s first business unit general manager which was a step down for the former Chief of Staff to the United States Secretary. However, astutely, she assumed a role that gave her profit and loss statement responsibilities in a sector where the person who generates profit for a consumer centric website would be coveted by MANY others. In Ms. Sandberg’s case, Facebook enlisted her help to shift from being a cool site to a cool money-making site.
  2. You are at the heart of where you want to be.  If your aspiration is to become a producer then it is better to take a junior role within the production department of a media firm than to take a lateral one outside of production.  Many clients rely on internal transfers down the line yet too often these moves are blocked, delayed, or painful. As a result, it is worth a pay cut or demotion to be at the heart of where you want to be professionally from day one.  As a junior team member you can still uncover if you desire a longer term role in the sector, and you can start building a professional portfolio and/or gaining critical skills that will continue to serve you well beyond your “starter” firm.
  3. You’ve faced this same dilemma many times beforePaulo Coelho, author of the book, The Alchemist, wanted to follow an untraditional career path as a writer. He was serious about this desire however at his parent’s wishes he diverted from this path and went to law school. Yet, during his first year in law school he dropped out; writing reentered his mind and this time he started testing the waters which worked out well. In the same vein, for example, if entering education as an after school teacher has crossed your path before, back then you gave it careful consideration, and today the same opportunity is at your doorstep consider a different approach; take it. I challenge you to finally put your curiosity to rest and take that pay cut because, as Coelho asserts “…everything that happens twice will surely happen a third time.” It’s following you because you are meant to open that door and it will haunt you until you take the plunge.

About the author

Melissa Llarena: is the CEO and career coach behind Career Outcomes Matter. Her craft is coaching top executives on how to dissect and deliver the perfect job interview. Her client base includes US-based as well as international business leaders with 15-plus years of experience who are undeniably really good at what they do yet simply want a strategic partner who can quickly fully understand their tangible and intangible contributions to effectively scale up their interviewing skills for the toughest interviews. Click to gain instant access to her 20-page interview preparation kit to gain an edge then schedule a phone call to see how she’d leverage her most powerful insights based on your unique situation -- all in time for your next interview.