pay cut

Cover Letters — When You’ll Take a Pay Cut

Recent research found that 58% of people have taken a pay cut for more satisfying work. Interestingly, that included 72% of the men and only 56% of the women surveyed.

Even though many people have taken pay cuts to pursue happiness, employers often balk at hiring people for less money than they have been making because they fear those people will leave when they find better jobs.

What If You’re Willing to Take a Pay Cut?

But what if you’re willing to make less? Then address the concern head-on and right away in your cover letter.

Cover Letter Language

One of my clients is making a change to more rewarding work. The change will entail a significant 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 15 years by bringing it all together and applying it as a [title] in the [name] field.

Simple, direct, and honest. My client shares that she can afford a pay cut and her motivation.

As a former recruiter, I find her explanation more than adequate. Because of this, I wouldn’t consider her flexibility about 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 involves a pay cut, let recruiters and hiring managers know you’re OK with that and why.

Is It Worth It to Take a Pay Cut?

One more thing, if you’re asking yourself if it’s worth it to make less money, the study asked about that too.

Those who reported taking a pay cut to improve their happiness, both men and women, were 63% more likely to say they are “mostly happy” or “elated” with their current jobs than those who have not.

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Updated January 2022

© 2013 – 2022, Donna Svei. All rights reserved.

Comments 2

  1. 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.


  2. 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,


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