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A question from someone about accepting a job offer for less money than you want. 

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The question I was asked, "Should I accept less money?" I want to start off by saying that my bias is against doing it. I also want to lay out cases where it makes sense. There aren't many, but there are a few instances where it does make sense. But going back to the conclusion I believe the general you don't do it.

The few circumstances where it makes sense are:

1. The great opportunity. To me, there are relatively few great opportunities but I am not in your seat and don't live your life. You have to decide what a great opportunity is for you that would cause you to accept less. For the person making $100,000 a year, for the person making $200,000 a year, the notion of accepting a few dollars less for the "great opportunity" may not be a big deal. For the person making $50,000 a year, it is a different story. But that person you have to weigh the alternatives and come to your decision about whether it's worth your while.

2. If you been out of work for a long time. For you, you have a job right now and you don't have a career. You been out of work for 6, 8, 9, 12 months… Longer? Someone is making a job offer to you for less money than you earned "back when" you have a job or career right now. It's over. The fact it's that someone is willing to give you a shot after so many people have turned you down… That's a circumstance to consider it.

Understand though that often firms are negotiating.

They will talk about the individual who they've met with who is looking really strong and we are weighing the 2 of you and this person is willing to accept less. That's 1 of the classics and areas the firms dredge up. That's 1 of the classic scenarios that firms used to finesse you into accepting less money.

Frankly, I would turn around and say, "Thanks for bringing that to my attention. The fact is that if you believe this is a better person for this role, you should really choose them. If we are really equal and they are willing to accept less, you should choose them. For me, I look at it as, "I cost more but I bring greater productivity. If I haven't convinced you of that yet, talk with me about the perceived differences between us and let's address that." The fact that they are raising. This is the subject indicates that it is close. They do see a difference between the 2 of you; otherwise they would try to bring you down to that price point. After all, why bother to have this conversation. They could have just chosen the other person.

That's a factor. They are using a negotiating ploy.

Another factor that you need to take into consideration it is not about accepting $5000 or $10,000 less now, it is that accepting less money affects every dollar you ever earn for that firm and every other firm from now on, All because you accepted less money now. They build their raises based on what you are currently earning, right?

Using simple numbers, if you accept $5000 less now or are making $110,000 and accept $100,000, if you get a 5% increase, you are now at $105,000. Had you been at $110,000, the race would have been higher, right? Understand that there is an impact now and when you change jobs from a few years in the future, 2 or 3 years from now. After all, they are formulating their increases based upon what you are currently earning.

For now, in Massachusetts, that will become different next year, when a law goes into effect prohibiting employers from asking about your salary. For most organizations in most parts of the country, they are basing wage increases on current salary. They don't care that you took $10,000 less to join your current firm. They work off the current numbers because that's a fact. Understand there's an impact upon you that you will never recover from.

As you can tell, generally, I am against accepting less money. If it means so much to an organization that you accept $5000 or $10,000 less, there is a bigger problem there in terms of how your marketing yourself that you need to address.

Generally, thumbs down to the notion of accepting less except in the circumstances that I've already outlined..


Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter is a coach who worked as a recruiter for what seems like one hundred years. His work involves career coaching, all as well as executive job search coaching and life coaching. He is the host of “No BS Job Search Advice Radio,” the #1 podcast in iTunes for job search with more than 1000 episodes,“ Job Search Radio,” “and his newest show, “No BS Coaching Advice” and is a member of The Forbes Coaches Council.

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