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Do the Math!

I had a lengthy discussion with someone that was trying to decide whether to take a position that would pay significantly less than her target salary range.

She has been unemployed for over a year, and her financial situation had become dire. She recognizes the need to get an income, however, is torn about taking a position that doesn't fully cover her monthly expenses. It's a tough dilemma, and I certainly understand her concern!

She asked me for advice, however, it's a very individual decision that no one can make for her. Each person has to decide for themselves what will work in their life, and how much risk they are comfortable in handling. There are some considerations, though, to help in the decision making process.

Ask yourself tough questions. Evaluating the pluses and minuses of accepting a less than ideal offer or not can help in reaching a decision. Ask yourself questions like:

  • How much longer can I make it without an income?
  • What is a realistic likelihood of getting a better offer soon?
  • How much do I lose by taking less, and how long would it take to make it up with my target salary?
  • What are my actual needs vs. my wants?
  • Does the offered position have growth opportunities?
  • Can salary be reconsidered after proving myself?
  • How does my current deteriorating situation make me a less attractive candidate?

Being honest with yourself about these questions and others can help steer your thinking one way or another.

Consider the loss. Perhaps the most important question above to consider carefully is how much you would lose by taking less, vs. the amount you would lose by waiting for a position that pays the amount you desire.

Perhaps the offered position pays $12,000 less than you are seeking. If you are unemployed for 4 more months before you land your target salary, chances are you would lose far more than $12,000 over the course of the next year. A position paying $12,000 less, may end up earning you far more in the near term than waiting for a better offer.

Nothing is forever. In todays job market, there are very few lifetime jobs anymore. While I would never recommend leaving a position within the first few months of a new role, you are also not obligated to stay in the role for several years. Taking a position, and resuming your search for a better role after a few months may be a viable option to end up in a more appropriate role. Financially it can be a very viable option.

While there are no easy answers to the dilemma of whether to take a less than ideal offer or not… doing the math may make the choice more clear!


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