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If you decide that you no longer want to stay in the career field you are in, your next step is to make a career change. If you have no experience in the field you are changing to, you will likely experience a drop in compensation. For instance, a successful realtor may be tired of the fierce competition and the long hours in her field and decide to become a teacher. The realtor may experience a significant drop in salary when entering the teaching profession, because teacher salary scales are often based on experience.
Unfortunately, sometimes employers decide to demote employees based on performance or other factors. If you are not in a position to move, such as if you have a spouse with a well-paying job or a family that you can’t uproot easily, you may have to accept the demotion at the lower pay rate. That doesn’t mean that you have to stay in the job forever, of course. You can keep the job while you work towards finding a better opportunity without a total loss of income.
Benefits and Perks
Sometimes leaving a higher-paying job for one that pays less makes sense if the benefits and perks outweigh the pay. For instance, if you work in the restaurant business as a general manager with a healthy salary, but you work 80 to 90 hours per week and have no health insurance or retirement benefits, you may decide to take a lower paying job that offers you health insurance, a 401(k) and a 40-hour work week. In many cases, the lower salary works out to a higher hourly rate. Working less with more benefits may be worth more to you than the extra money each year.
If you move from an area that has a high cost of living to one that has a much lower cost of living, you can afford to take a lower-paying job. Your money will go further because things such as housing, groceries, transportation, healthcare and utilities won’t cost as much. Use cost of living calculator to estimate how much your current salary is worth in another city or state. The calculations will give you a good idea of whether you can live your expected lifestyle on a lower salary in another location.
Your well-paying job may not be worth it if you are unhappy and stressed and your current job is taking a toll on you and those around you. A higher salary can’t make up for the loss of quality time spent with children and loved ones, pursuing hobbies, or simply sleeping right and exercising to keep up your health.
You Need a Job
When a company you work for closes it doors or downsizes, you can find yourself out of a job. Depending on the industry in which you work and the area in which you live, you may have to take whatever job or jobs you can get to pay you bills. There may not be any available jobs in your industry unless you move to another location, which may not be a feasible solution at the time.
Tell the person extending the job offer that you appreciate the opportunity to move forward in the company and explore a greater position of authority. Before accepting the promotion, ask to discuss the specifics of the job, including compensation and job duties and functions. Get the details in writing and ask for time to review the document.
Conduct some background research into the role you’re being offered. Because of your existing job with the company, you may have an idea of what the position pays. Dig a little deeper and find the going rate for that role in your industry. You can find statistics through the U.S. Labor Department that will help to prepare you for negotiations.
Meet with the individual offering the promotion and ask questions about the new position. This will help you clarify what is expected of you. From there, begin negotiations for any missing elements you believe you are entitled to. For example: “Based on the overview of job functions, I believe I would be better able to perform in this role if I had a part-time assistant,” or, “Because of the extensive travel involved with this job, I’d like to request an expense account and use of a company car.”
Negotiate any discrepancies in the salary package being offered. You can use any number of arguments to your advantage, including your existing knowledge of the company, your education or experience, or inside information. For example: “It’s my understanding that the last person in this role earned a significantly higher salary. Can you tell me why there is such a discrepancy in what you’re offering me?” Or, “The starting salary for this position looks like it’s about 10 percent below national industry standards. Would you be open to an increase?”
Decide in advance of what you will and won’t accept. Take into consideration whether your existing job will still be available if you turn down the promotion, or if there will be awkward tension if you refuse the role.
Let the employer know of your final decision as soon as possible.
Before you attempt to negotiate a higher salary, research the average salary range for the position so that you’re well-informed during the discussion. Check salary ranges Labor Statistics website, research annual reports by industry and use reference materials available at libraries, such as the “Business Directory.” Because cost-of-living factors and geographical locations affect salaries, compare statistics that are representative of your area. Consider your years of experience in the industry, academic degrees and job-related accomplishments to help you come up with a counteroffer that’s fair and reasonable.
During the negotiation process, make sure you discuss your salary needs with professional enthusiasm. Avoid criticizing the original offer, demanding better compensation or using a “pity party” mentality to manipulate the situation. The goal is to convey confidence and earnestly seek a compensation package that meets your skill level, years of experience and financial needs. Keep a positive attitude and don’t allow the negotiation process to become confrontational. If the company isn’t sincerely interested in you, they wouldn’t have offered you the job in the first place.
To make sure you don’t lose the job offer, express your willingness to give-and-take, so the employer doesn’t think you’re only interested if all of your expectations are met. According to the University of Minnesota School of Public Health, an effective negotiation strategy is to ask for a few perks you can do without. As a result, you can opt to give up those benefits in lieu of a higher salary. For example, you might cover your own relocation expenses, give up stock options for a year or forgo a company car to show your goodwill. This bargaining strategy seeks to find a compromise so both sides feel like they got a good deal.
Several negotiating guidelines might help you strike a fair deal, without compromising the initial job offer. The Graduate College at the University of Illinois recommends negotiating salary only after a company has given you a formal offer. You need to make sure that the company is fully invested in you, so there’s no competition from other candidates. Don’t negotiate a higher salary unless you’re ready to commit to the job; the employer might agree to your salary request on the spot. Once salary negotiations have ended, don’t bring up other requests or demands that might negatively affect your standing as a new employee.