15 Aug If You Need a Change, Don’t Rule Out a Pay Cut

The other day I had a conversation with my dad about how he became a carpenter in the mid-1970s. Immediately after graduating high school, he worked a factory job at Hamilton’s in Manitowoc, Wisconsin making $2.75 per hour. Within 2 weeks, he realized that factory work wasn’t for him and wanted to go a different route.

Have you ever experienced wanting to escape a job while still going through the new-hire training? Sometimes that gut feeling is just there before you even get your first paycheck.

My dad decided to randomly walk into a construction company and ask the owner, Micky, if they had any jobs available. After a brief conversation, Micky said, “Yes, but for only $1.75 per hour because you have no experience and that’s all you’re worth.”

My dad took the job, even though it was a 36% pay cut. He took a chance on himself and won big time. Carpentry has become a lifelong rewarding career for him.

This story made me think of a $15,000 or 42% pay cut that I took in 2003. Fresh out of college, I was a sales representative making about $35,000 per year, but pursued a $20,000 position with the Milwaukee Bucks as an Assistant Video Coordinator… basically the lowest paid employee on the totem pole.

I took the job because I wanted to pursue my dream of working in the NBA. I wanted opportunity more than a certain dollar amount paycheck. In other words, I wanted to be happier. When I asked my dad why he took a pay cut, he, too, said, “I wanted to be happier.”

Are you happy? If not, don’t rule out a pay cut.

REFLECTION: Have you ever been faced with the choice to take a pay cut? What was your WHY? What factors led to your decision… better hours, stronger leadership, improved work environment, shorter commute or something else? 

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