Money, money, money, money, money! That may be the theme song of
Donald Trump's The Apprentice, but sometimes, it isn't just about
When negotiating for a job, there's more to consider than just
the salary. But if you must take a pay cut for a better opportunity,
make sure you know it's going to pay off in the long run.
When Curtis Simmons took a job that paid peanuts, he was following
a dream to work with a prominent architect, expand on own experience,
grow professionally and make important connections in the field.
"I went for the biggest dream I could, even if that meant going
for broke," he says. "That was the path I had to take in order to
get where I am now professionally."
Although he recommends taking a lower pay when you're younger and
don't have as many financial responsibilities, he credits much of
his success now with the experience he gained while working for
very little pay.
Simmons says the job, which he worked about 10 years ago, is still
opening up doors and has helped give him credibility in his industry.
He says the culture and environment of the company he worked in
was important to his decision, as well.
Laura, who asked that her last name not be used, agreed to a significant
pay cut when she went to work for a university. She was looking
to diversify her skill set, while also pursuing a master's degree.
Although the pay at the university was less than a private-sector
job, the savings in tuition benefits more than make up the difference.
"It pretty much boiled down to the dollar amount (in savings),
but it also would benefit my career," she says.
She advises to look beyond the paycheck to long-term goals. If
taking a lower salary will pay off in a few years, it might be worth
the temporary cut.
Laura says factors in a potential beyond pay are just as important
- if not more - than the money.
"There are great values that aren't measured in your weekly paycheck,"
Laura's gamble with a smaller salary paid off. After graduating
with her master's, she was promoted and earned a salary greater
than the job she'd initially left.
How to evaluate your job offer
Before you decide if a job offer is right for you, it's essential
to evaluate all aspects of it, says Jack Chapman, salary coach and
author of "Negotiating Your Salary: How to Make $1,000 a Minute."
Chapman says there are six important factors in weighing an offer.
- Satisfaction: Will the job be engaging and build upon
- Professional growth: Will the job lead to a greater
future? Will it help you professionally?
- Company philosophy: Does the mission of the organization
fit with your values and beliefs?
- Location: Will your commute time detract from your personal
- Growth in responsibilities: Will you be promoted and
given room to expand in the company? Will you be able to raise
your pay through these promotions?
- Compensation: Does the salary with benefits and perks
meet your requirements?
Chapman says it's generally a good idea to avoid taking a lower
pay, if the job fits five of the six factors, the job will likely
He adds there are other points to negotiate that go beyond pay,
such as working from home, leaving early on Fridays, a shortened
workweek, one-time bonuses or earlier raises.
"Anytime you can produce a long-term effect, you can ask for more,"
he says. "Look at where your efforts make a difference to the bottom
Chapman advises making a laundry list of benefits and important
values to your ideal workplace. Estimate what they are worth to
you and the likelihood of an employer agreeing to those values.
When you're negotiating beyond the salary, move quickly through
the list, Chapman says. You don't want potential employers to ask
themselves if this guy will ever end with his demands.
In the end, you want to find the best fit for your career path.
Sometimes taking a lower salary will help you achieve your professional
goals. But before you settle for less, set a clear path of the payoff
in the long run.
Elizabeth McKinley is a freelance journalist who writes about
careers and workplace issues. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org