Falling Down the Career Ladder
“Define what your expenses are and determine at what point a salary will no longer be acceptable,” says Safran. “If you recognize that the job you’re trained for is no longer valued in the marketplace the way it once was, then it’s time to really change your lifestyle—perhaps geography, career or your housing situation.”
As with all new jobs, she adds, you should also consider the impact your new salary will have on your long-term financial goals including college savings for your kids and your retirement fund.
A significantly reduced salary means you may not be able to contribute as much to your 401(k), which ultimately effects the size of your future nest egg.
“If you’re not making enough money you’re going to be balancing two things—your immediate cash flow and your long-term future savings goals,” says Safran. “You have to reevaluate and decide what needs to change and how you can reduce your expenses to not only be able to buy food and pay your mortgage today, but save for your retirement.“
If you decide to hold out for a higher paying position, try casting a wider net by working with a career counselor to determine what other options you have based on your interests, education and skill set.
A Fresh Start
In today’s job market, where the supply of available labor outweighs demand, those looking for work are facing tough choices.
Taking an offer with diminished pay and prestige isn’t easy, but it may be the best move if it offers increased job security or benefits your family needs.
Just be sure you know what you’re getting into, and how your new salary might impact your lifestyle and financial goals.
“If you take a job and it’s lower-paying you really want to make sure that you like the job, the responsibilities and the people because the reality of the situation is if you stay there it’s very hard to get back to where you were before,” says Berger. “You’re going to get raises based upon what the job is.”
Remember, too, that while a temporary step down can be defeating, especially if you’re more qualified than your new boss, it’s not the end of the road, says Schmitt.
“Once you get in there and demonstrate your credibility and contribution to the company, you can start to think about what other projects you can take on and who else in the organization you can support,” says Schmitt. “As the economy improves and companies continue to grow, at some point there will be an opening much more closely aligned to your background.”
In the meantime, he suggests, stay involved in networking events, join a board, volunteer with trade associations and continue to cultivate your network.
“Stay visible and stay engaged,” advises Schmitt. “One of the things we hear all the time from people who are in job search mode is that they wish they had never let their network get so stale. Have those informational coffee meetings once a month even when you are employed so you don’t have to reinvent the wheel every time you’re looking for a new job.”