You’ve Been Offered a Great New Job, but Is It Worth a Pay Cut?

You’ve Been Offered a Great New Job, but Is It Worth a Pay Cut?

Send your workplace conundrums to workologist@nytimes.com, including your name and contact information (even if you want it withheld). The Workologist is a guy with well-intentioned opinions, not a professional career adviser. Letters may be edited.

I’ve recently been performing some of the most rewarding work of my career. And I have always had positive evaluations and have felt supported by my boss. In fact, she has been planning to create a new position to make sure the research I am doing continues well into the future. The first stage will end in the middle of next year, and I have been looking forward to seeing our results and to continuing this important work.

But I just found out that the new position is being created at a lower classification, and would require me to take a significant pay cut to do the same work. There is no room for negotiation. I am devastated.

What are my options? Is there ever a good career reason to take a pay cut to do the same work? If there is no choice but to leave, how do I move on from a job I have loved and that is unfinished? Alternatively, how do I continue working at a company that would put an employee in this untenable position?


This may sound odd, but take a moment to appreciate the positive side of your situation.

You care deeply about the work you’re doing; you can keep doing it; but you can also choose to pursue opportunities elsewhere that will now feel rewarding in other ways. In short, try to proceed from a mind-set that’s guided more by opportunity than grievance.

It’s not clear to me how much of the information you have is direct, or secondhand. But I think you need to have some kind of clarifying conversation with this boss whom you otherwise seem to admire and find out what the long-term context here might be. If it’s true that you have zero room to negotiate immediately, find out what’s possible over time.

Speaking generally, yes, there can be a career-enhancing reason to take a pay cut: If you believe a certain opportunity will benefit you more in the long run, then sacrificing a little now can pay off significantly later.

But speaking more specifically, I agree that being asked to do the exact same job for less money feels like an insult. So as part of this conversation, I think it’s O.K. to express your disappointment, if you can do so in a measured way.

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