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A career change can be exhilarating, exciting and at the same time, more than a little scary. This is especially true if your job switch comes with a significant cut in pay. Should salary be your main focus as you consider the next step along your professional path?

There are several factors to consider including the position itself, your future plans and growth potential, and the balance you seek between your work and personal life.

A pay cut is worth it when:

You switch to a more rewarding field.

  • You can’t expect an industry-leading salary when you move into a role where you have little to no experience. In this situation, you may be able to initially take a pay cut with the expectation that you’ll regain ground within the first few years. The tradeoff is worth it in terms of heightened job satisfaction.
  • Different industries have different pay standards. For instance, a move from a large global corporation to a local or regional non-profit organization is an apples-to-oranges comparison. But what you lose in annual income, you may gain in gratification and commitment to your personal social goals.

You crave better work/life balance.

  • A recent survey by management consultant firm Accenture showed that more than half of working adults consider their work/life balance key to whether or not they have successful careers. An equal percentage said they would, in fact, turn down a job that threatened that balance.
  • In another study, 45 percent of employees responded similarly, noting that on average, they would give up more than 8.5 percent of their income to achieve work/life equilibrium.

There’s something you want more.

  • Do you want to go back to school? The solution may be a job that requires fewer hours so you have time to study or a position at a company with generous tuition assistance benefits.
  • Have your priorities changed? Perhaps you’ve paid off your mortgage, educated your children and are ready to take more time to travel, but are still shy of retirement. The wolf has left the door and while work remains a tremendous source of satisfaction, money has jettisoned down on your list of priorities.

In essence, if taking a pay cut means things will even out in your life and boost your well-being, a career change probably is worth a few less dollars in your paycheck.

One final caveat: Be sure you’re ready for the change. As summarized by Holly Paul, chief HR officer at cloud marketing software company Vocus, “you need to know yourself well enough to understand if a pay cut will lower your motivation or passion for work. You also need to take a close look at your personal finances to make sure that the pay reduction won’t create a situation that’s not feasible at home.”

The professional recruiting and career coaching team at Alternative Staffing can partner with you as you plot your next career move and find the position that best meets your work/life needs. Read our related posts or contact us today.

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