Should you take a short-term job for less money than your last job out of sheer desperation? Y ou will keep looking and take a better paying job as quickly as it appears. You are prepared to tell any prospective boss anything to get off the unemployment rolls. I’ve had three clients with slightly different details but the same basic story. All took jobs with substantial salary cuts. As you know, 20/20 hindsight is worth nothing to them but their stories can help you make a guilt-free decision.
Work is about earning a living. If you’re not making a living your career plan is deficient. Thus, when you can’t get at least as much money as you earned in your last job, even after an exhaustive job hunt, the question is whether to take a pay cut and get on someone’s payroll. Finally you get an offer for 65 percent of what you were earning. You have to take it. How should you think about your choice?
Be ethical. Do not promise you’ll stay until death or retirement. Tell the boss you will give the job your best effort and do so. Remember that that boss will be called for a reference for the next 10 years unless you leave the job off your resume which is a lie. Don’t create problems for yourself. Stick to the facts.
Only stark honesty is believable. Try, “I had been job hunting 40 hours a week for almost a year. I had to get on someone’s payroll or my have my children drop out of …, or “default on my mortgage.” In other words, your reason was BIG, not about running out of savings or a diminished life style. This was the only possible decision under the circumstances. Present this in a matter of fact tone which allows no argument. This works. If asked questions repeat your explanation. Do not add more information.
Before we weep for the employer who is getting a bargain only to be left ASAP, consider this. Why would a hirer interview, much less make an offer to, someone he could not afford? The hirer knows he’s taking a risk. He knows that he, too, would keep looking until he got back to his former pay. The hirer will get a superior performance — in the short-term – from someone he couldn’t afford. Before you feel guilty think about the hirer’s motives.
Do any of these stories have a happy ending? Does the boss say, “I know you are underpaid so I’ll give you the salary you were making?” No. I have never heard of one. Remember, if he paid you, the star, twice what his new peers were making everyone else would start looking. It’s a win/win for everyone.
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