Cover Letters: Taking a Pay Cut

If you're OK with a pay cut, then say so and explain why.

by Donna Svei on August 12, 2013

A recent survey found that 68% of Americans would take a pay cut for more satisfying work and that almost 25% of workers would take a BIG pay cut. Even so, employers often balk at hiring people for less than they have been making because they fear they will leave when they find a better job.

But what if you’re really willing to make less? Then address the concern head on.

One of my clients is making a change to more rewarding work. The change will entail a big pay cut. I love the words she used to describe this in a recent cover letter to a hiring manager. Shared with her OK, here is the paragraph she used to address possible concerns about her pay:

I know that a move to [type of job] will mean a significant cut in pay for me, but I am now in a position where I don’t need to make as much money as a [current title] at [current company] makes. Rather, I’m looking to make the most of everything I’ve learned over the past X years by bringing it all together and applying it as a [title] in the [name] field.

Simple, direct, and honest. She shares that she can afford a pay cut and her motivation for taking the cut. As a recruiter, I find her explanation more than adequate.  Because of this, I wouldn’t consider pay a negative in recruiting her – as long as the new job fits the career change she wants to make.

Whether you’re making a voluntary or involuntary job change, if it clearly involves a pay cut, let recruiters and hiring managers know up front you’re OK with that and why you’re OK with that.

I write executive resumes and LinkedIn profiles. Save time. Get hired. Email me at donnasvei@gmail.com or call me at (208) 721-0131. 

Image © kentoh – Fotolia.com

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Diane August 13, 2013 at 11:25

What about cases in which the individual is over 50-55+, has had his/her position eliminated due to reduction in force and wants to heed the advice of being unemployed for as short a time as possible. If it’s the right job in the right organization and s/he can genuinely express enthusiasm and convey expertise that fits the employer’s needs, what could s/he write about salary if they are sincerely willing to take a pay cut? Willing is not the same as being happy or thrilled about it………

Hi Diane,

I think if someone’s willing, but not happy, to take a pay cut they might leave as soon as they find another position.

However, if that’s not the case, then say something like this:

“I know that a move to [type of job] will mean a significant cut in pay for me, but I am now in a position where I don’t need to make as much money as I made as a [former title] at [former company]. Rather, I want to work. I’m not a stay-at-home type of person. I have enjoyed just about every job I’ve ever had, at whatever level, and have always given my employers excellent performance in my responsibilities. In case you’re worried that I would come up to speed and then leave for a higher paying job, I’m willing to make a time commitment to your company if I come to work for you.”

I hope that’s helpful. It would get my attention in a good way.

Donna

Sid August 15, 2013 at 14:05

I think that the comments are not backed with any sound facts at all. If enough employees have a modest lifestyle and they have a mortgage (rent), car payment (lease) and fixed obligations and perhaps educational responsibilities, loses a position that pays those bills, then it would be very foolish for the employee to take a pay cut. This is bully tactics from an insensitive employer. That is certain failure for the employee and most probably for the employer in the long run. Bad Business! This is like a vendor selling a product for less than they pay for it. Thats good business? How long will it be before the entire economic structure collapses in failure?

Hi Sid,

I appreciate what you’re saying. Some people are blessed enough to earn enough that they determine what “enough” is for them in terms of financial income and security. If they’re willing to take a job they think will give them more non-financial fulfillment, that’s their decision to make.

Thank you,

Donna

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