When a Pay Cut or Demotion Makes Sense

Pay Cuts and Demotions

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.
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Melissa Llarena

Melissa helps movers and shakers up to those in the corner office rediscover what makes them unique so that they can land their dream job in a forward-thinking company where their ideas are listened to, valued, and supported.

She brings insights from having worked in 16-business units (including Human Resources) in NY, Paris, and London. Additionally, in her former corporate career, she worked on billion-dollar brands for P&G and on IBM for Ogilvy & Mather. Later, as the founder and CEO of Career Outcomes Matter, Melissa created a 3-step “sellable strengths” process which has been the centerpiece of her clients' results.

Melissa applies this method consistently to support mid-level professionals up to the c-suite to get into Fortune Global 500 organizations and agencies. She studied Psychology at NYU and earned her MBA from the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth.

1 Comment

  1. Belinda Cua Sia on June 2, 2012 at 1:18 am

    I believed in destiny. If any opportunity presented itself twice, it’s something that’s meant for you. However, sometime being complacent and sentimental rules our hearts and minds. We are scared to test the water as we do not know what lies behind the door.

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