We'd all love to have a constant upward climb in pay, but it doesn't always happen. There are some times when you should hold out for a raise, but there are others when taking a pay cut makes sense. While more money seems like the best thing, it's not always feasible. Here are 10 times you should be willing to accept a pay cut. (Of course, if someone wants to offer you more money, take it!)
1. You're changing careers.
Sometimes you can move seamlessly from one career to the next without taking a cut in pay, but often you can't make such a move at the same level. If you want to change from accounting to marketing, you'll probably have to go in at a lower level, and a lower rate of pay will come into that.
2. You find your current work too difficult or fast paced.
Do you go home exhausted? Are you constantly working at the edge of your ability? Is your stress level affecting your health and relationships? It may be time to find a new job that doesn't have the same level of demands. A job with fewer demands will likely pay less. It's a tradeoff, but often worth it.
3. You want more flexibility.
One of the reasons why women earn less than men is that women value flexibility over salary. So, if you want more flexibility, you'll likely buy it with a lower salary. Telecommuting, flexible schedules, or increased vacation are all reasons to take a lower salary.
4. You want to work fewer hours.
The federal government defines full time as 30 hours per week when it is talking about the Affordable Care Act. You're eligible for overtime after you hit 40 hours if you're not exempt from overtime laws. But if you're a salaried exempt employee, a full-time job can range from 30 hours a week to 168 hours a week. Plenty of people regularly work 60 hours a week or more. You may look at salaries and think "that's a full-time job, this is a full-time job, why isn't the pay the same?" Well, because the workload can vary tremendously. If you want to be on the lower end of full-time work hours, prepare for a salary cut.
5. You're currently overpaid.
It's a dream we all have, right? To earn massive amounts of money? Well, sure, but sometimes people are actually overpaid, and when they are, changing jobs means a pay cut. Being overpaid can make it difficult to leave a job you hate, but it's often a necessary step.
How do you know if you're overpaid? If you can't find a job at the same level you're earning now, your paycheck is artificially high.
6. You want to stop managing people.
Typically, managers earn more than individual contributors. If you love managing people, that's great. If you find it tedious and annoying or downright impossible, then managing isn't for you. That's fine--the world needs fabulous individual contributors. But that's often considered a step back, and it comes with a reduced paycheck.
7. You're changing industries.
An HR manager is an HR manager and an accountant is an accountant, right? Sure. But the industry also influences a pay scale. Some industries just pay more than others. If you're switching to a lower paying industry, expect a ding in your paycheck.
8. You want to work for a nonprofit.
Sure, you hear those exposés about how the CEO of this or that charity makes $350,000 a year and isn't that scandalous? Well, no. If the CEO of a charity is earning $350k, it's likely she could be earning a lot more in the private sector. That hits at every level of the organization. It's kind of expected that you'll be willing to earn less because it's for a good cause.
9. You've been unemployed for a while.
Companies like to hire people who already have jobs. It's unfair, but it's a reality that you have to deal with. The longer you've been out of a job, the more likely it is that you won't get a new job at your previous salary level, let alone a higher one. Holding out for a better paying job may work out for you, but it may not. Consider any job offer carefully.
10. You want to start your own business.
We hear a lot about people who drop out of college and start up fantastic businesses, but the reality is, most successful startups are run by people who worked for other people for years. Starting a new business can mean that you take a huge pay cut until things get going--and sometimes it means earning negative amounts of money as you invest your savings into the business.