40k pay cut for more experience?

I am quite happy in my current position, just got a promotion and generally like where I live, but it is remote. I have been thinking that I need to get more diverse experience, since I’ve been at my current position for over 4 years and it was my first out of school. I have been looking around and there may be an offer in which I would gain more experience. Do I take the 35-40k pay cut with no relocation to gain experience and to live in an awesome new place?

Never give on pay.

Let me rephrase that. You are worth X right now. Another employer is offering you X-$40k. The next offer you get after that position will be based on X-$40k. It is likely to dig you into a hole. At the very least you need to have a reality check conversation with this prospective employer along the lines of “look, I’m getting paid X and you are offering me X-$40k. How do you propose making this worth my while?” Does that mean a 4 day workweek, full health/vision/dental coverage, subsidized child care, company car, fully matched 401(k), 5 weeks of paid vacation, flex time? What are the perks you’ll get in exchange for such a dramatic salary reduction? Remember, your career isn’t an altruistic effort to change the world. It’s about money - maybe not for you but definitely for someone - so you shouldn’t give up your cut.

A friend of mine did exactly what you’re thinking about doing. He had a great job at a global company, but left to take a job in a small town where he got to run the show. He took a pay cut for the experience. He left there after a few years and is now back at another global company, running a major line for one of their brands. The knowledge gained was a huge factor in his career progression, and the pay cut was temporary.

I also left a higher paying job for the one I have now. I was doing really well in a job unrelated to design, but left to pursue industrial design. The pay cut was dramatic and it took a lot of getting used to, and I was bitter for a while. I came into it thinking I was being taken advantage of, but I learned to get over myself. Looking back, I’m glad I made the jump.

If you play your cards right it works out in the end. Just make sure you’re fully committed. You want to be mentally prepared for the lower pay and the change in lifestyle. Sometimes you can grow to resent it.

Hell no.

Or rather - I hope you are very confident that the experience and lifestyle changes will be worth $40K.

A better situation would be different place, new job, and more money. :unamused:

This depends on your goals and what the experience can do for your career. If you really feel that staying where you are will hinder your growth, consider it, but if there and others involved (wife, kids, family) you are better talking it over. If you are young, just beginning your career, go for it, living in a wonderful place makes up for a lot. You will learn that if you measure yourself by how much you make, your life will come up short. Be very happy you have the choice.

You haven’t mentioned any specifics, but -40k seems like a lot more than a cost of living change. If you were moving from Northern California to Iowa I would say “maybe that pay cut is OK” but if you’re moving from the midwest to a big city then you’ll just be taking a massive pay cut and I don’t see that being worth it.

If you are valued at X like was mentioned, you should look for a job in the same city that is willing to pay you X * Cost of Living difference. Otherwise it sounds like they’re just blackballing you.

A rule I learned young and still live by is “Always know what you’re worth” - if you do good work and sell yourself short you won’t end up where you want to be IMO.

+1 cyberdemon on the COL factor.

If you’re in a Des Moines making, for arguments’ sake $75k, and you have an opportunity to relocate to NYC for $35k (in an extreme example), you’d need to actually bump up to like $115k or something to retain your current standard of living. So in the example, $75k in NYC is a $40k cut from $75k in Des Moines.

I’d say it really depends. Some companies give large pay packages to keep people. If you have been compensated beyond your years and experience, you will need to take a step back, temporarily, to get into new experiences. Otherwise you may find yourself painted into a corner in a few more years.

If you can afford it, and this is something you want to do, then go for it… but make sure you negotiate. Make sure they are aware of your current salary and close the gap as much as you can and get it in writing.

It all comes down to what you want to do and who you want to be. Roll dee in your small town, or get the experience you need to propel your career to the next level…

I’ve bever been in your situation, so I don’t know what I would do. It is a tough call.

If the case is the other way around (you are making 75 in NYC and move to make 35 in Iowa), it might make sense. In that way, the cut is more a cut of cost of living expenses.

I’ve never been in the situation, but I think there are many things to factor in, some of which have been mentioned. Bonuses, benefits, taxes, etc. It’s a question of total compensation, not just salary.

Also the role may be different given the context is. Is one a well paid corporate gig where you are a small fish in a big pond, and the other a small, lean consultancy where you are a big fish in a small pond?

What are the benefits to your career goals aside from the immediate $ factor? I know many people, for example in the footwear industry, who have gone from a mid level design job at a big Nike or top 3 brand to a Design Director position in a smaller brand so that they can then come back later with Design Director experience. Likewise I’ve seen people at a smaller brand at Director level take a Sr. Design position at a Nike so they get their foot in the door and move up quickly once they’ve proven themselves.

What are your goals?


I just went through this exact situation recently. It’s tough to stomach at first, but if you want to move up, sometimes that’s what it takes.

As an aside, Iowa is a really nice place to live, BTW.

“I’d say it really depends. Some companies give large pay packages to keep people.”

Yo, I do think that this is somewhat of the case, at my current position they have fantastic benefits including stock options and full health benefits. Is it wrong to consider reaping the benefits of this high pay for a couple years, save as much as I can in order to gain some financial freedom?

I am located in Northern California and the move would be to CO, I believe the cost of living would be slightly less. The new position would offer me the opportunity to work with new people, gain a lot of new experience, and broaden my design scope. These are all great things. My goals are to advance my career, learn new skills, and be challenged, while making a good salary.

If you are in the bay area, you know cost of living is crazy. I’d say 35-40% more than Portland Or and I would bet that would be similar to Colorado.

Stacking money for a couple of years can be good… just keep in mind the inertia of that. It is hard to give it up, and the longer you have that income, the harder I’m sure it will be.

Sometime a name or experience on a resume is worth it. I made a similar choice several times in my career and I think it was mostly worth it every time

Some people appear to have charmed design careers and relatively stable career progression in big brands - in my personal experience it doesn’t happen like that for everyone.

I think taking a pay cut for valuable career experience is common thought for people in a competitive field like ID… similar to “working harder than everyone else is your best competitive advantage”. If you go that route, just make sure it’s well calculated risks that you can live with - sometimes it can be worth it