Ask LH: Should I Take A Full-Time Role On A Lower Salary?

Ask LH: Should I Take A Full-Time Role On A Lower Salary?

Hi Lifehacker, Currently I am working as a systems administrator under a contract which ends in mid-January 2015. I have an offer to work as a support officer in another company, but for a lower salary.

Should I take that role as it will give me an income through the most difficult part of the year (January through April in terms of job offers), or forget about it and focus on applying for roles that come closer to my experience level and expected salary?


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Dear Systematic,

The economics of the situation are simple: earning an actual lower salary is much better for your bank account than holding out for a higher salary and then earning nothing at all. If your existing emergency fund is big enough to allow you to maintain your current lifestyle for a period of several months, then you can afford to be fussy and wait for a higher-paying job. If it isn’t, then taking on the slightly-lower-paid job is probably a more sensible choice — especially if you have dependents or large financial commitments.

Also remember this: few jobs are for life these days. There’s nothing to stop you continuing to apply for any new positions that do come up. Most employers impose a three-month probationary period, and that can work for you too — if something better comes along during that time, you can accept it without feeling at all guilty. If nothing shows up, treat the role as another contract position — stick with it but continue to seek other jobs.

That’s our take, but we’d love to hear from readers who have been in similar positions about the choices they made. Good luck!


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  • You should also consider the other benefits that get paid to you as a full time employee. Assuming this is Australia you will be entitled to 4 weeks paid leave per year. Others could be a paid for mobile phone, car allowance, income protection insurance, extra superannuation. Sometimes these can add up to a 30% overhead on your base salary.

    • …and some companies quote what seems like a good salary, BUT they are including things like Super in their quoted figure. Which makes your actual income at least 10% lower than what you thought you were getting.

      • Yup, it makes comparison hard especially if they’re not clear about this.

        I currently have a situation where I have decided to walk into a less secure (could be 2 years, could be 5 or more) but seemingly higher paying role on the basis that nothing is permanent. At the end of the day the dollar figure is similar but one was quoted excluding super and the one I negotiated and ended up taking included super, etc. It really did make initial comparison hard because the amount I asked for included super but the amount they came back with excluded it.

        Be up front about things like this or it could come back and bite you.

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