After nailing the interview, you receive the job offer of your dreams. It feels like all the pieces are falling into place — until you see the salary. It’s no only less than you asked for, but less than what you’re currently earning.
Now you have a dilemma: Do you take the position with the pay cut, or continue earning the same salary at a job you don’t really enjoy? According to a 2018 survey conducted by Lexington Law, 60 percent of Americans say they’d be willing to take a 50 percent drop in pay for a job they really loved.
It’s a less-than-perfect scenario, but the way you respond could change the trajectory of your career. If you’re feeling stuck, ask yourself these questions before taking a pay cut for your dream job.
Is It Financially Feasible?
This sounds obvious, but it’s easy to overlook your better judgment when enchanted by a seemingly great new job. It all comes down to running the numbers. After accounting for taxes and any automatic payroll deductions, like 401(k) contributions, where will your take-home pay land? Weigh that number against your monthly expenses, including saving for long-term financial goals like retirement or a down payment on a home.
If the math reveals a gap between your income and expenses, that’s a warning sign. However, you might find it to be workable if you tweak your budget a bit. In that case, professional career coach Cheryl Czach recommends paying attention to unnecessary spending you could realistically eliminate, like daily lattes or meal subscriptions. In other words, the question is: What could you cut in order to pursue the work you love?
“The trade-off may be worth it to you for a few years until you regain that earning potential,” Czach says.
Also look at your outstanding debt and see if there are any options to alleviate your financial stress in that regard. For example, income-based repayment plans are calculated based on your salary, so lower take-home pay could be offset with lower monthly payments toward your student loans.
Is This Job as Amazing as You Think It Is?
Czach also notes that, sometimes, the reality of the dream job isn’t exactly what we thought it would be. The truth is that no job is perfect, and every role is going to have its pros and cons.
“You think this is going to be the purposeful work that you’ve been looking for, so you sort of ignore red flags that pop up for you along the interview process,” Czach says.
These feelings might be even stronger if you’re unhappy in your current role. Think of it as the professional equivalent of the grass always being greener on the other side. Czach added that having unrealistic expectations could create a terrible situation where you’re still unhappy at work, but now you’re making less money….