Menu Join now Search

Should You Take Significantly Less Money Just to Work?

For the millions of individuals who are out of work, a decision befalls them more times than not.

Should they take any job, including those that pay significantly less money than the ones they had before, just for the sake of being employed?

With the national unemployment rate hanging around 9.1 percent, many individuals are faced with just that choice. Whether they’re receiving unemployment factors into the matter of course, but should someone drop down from a previous salary of say triple digits to take a job paying thirty thousand dollars, forty thousand dollars or more than they were making before, just to remove themselves from the unemployed ranks?

In order to make that difficult call, it is best to weigh both the pros and the cons to such a decision. Once that is done, then decided what is in your best long-term interests.

On the pro side of taking less money and being gainfully employed once again:

  • You’re back to work—While some absences of work on your resume are rather easy to explain away, it is important that the gaps are not too big. Being out of work for a few months because you were laid off is one thing, being out of work for several years leaves you with some explaining to do if you go on a job interview. And although taking a major drop in your salary may seem not the way to go, consider that this continues to be an employer’s market, so individuals have less say over which jobs they want;
  • You can search while you work—Given that most people do not stay in the same job for decades like many of their parents did, it only makes sense to take what is available at the time so you get off the unemployment rolls. While in your new job, you can take time to job hunt and see what else is out there. The advantage is that you’re getting a regular paycheck while doing this, instead of relying on unemployment to cover you;
  • The benefits of being back to work—Along with a regular paycheck, individuals taking a job for a smaller salary also increase their chances of getting benefits once again. While out of work, they likely have accessibility to COBRA coverage, but that comes at a hefty price. By being back in a regular job, even with a smaller salary, most employees will be eligible for medical benefits, etc. anywhere from thirty to ninety days.
On the downside of taking less money and being gainfully employed once again:

  • Finding a job is a full-time job—The old adage that looking for a full-time job is a full-time job holds very true in many cases. If you’re back at work and working for significantly less money, not only might your motivation level be down, but it can impact your time in searching for a better paying position;
  • You could look desperate—While looks can be deceiving, taking a job for significantly lower money can be viewed in some instances as being desperate for work. Some feel it is better to sit back and collect the unemployment until an equal paying or better position to the last job comes along. Each individual should weigh their positions and what will serve them best;
  • You may never reach the desired salary again—Depending on where you’re at in life, taking a significantly less paying job than what you currently have may lead you to fall into a comfort zone. Yes, you’re making significantly less money, but you have a job and are not really motivated to seek something else for the foreseeable future.
Each individual has to look at the big picture and determine what is best for them and their families.

If getting back to or exceeding your previous salary is the top priority, then collecting unemployment for as long as possible is probably not a bad idea, given that you have more free time to look for a good-paying position.

On the other hand, if being out of work for any significant period of time is not something on your radar, then take the best offer that comes your way, and at that rather sooner than later.