Ask LH: Will Accepting A Lower Salary Make Me Less Attractive To Recruiters?

Ask LH: Will Accepting A Lower Salary Make Me Less Attractive To Recruiters?

Dear Lifehacker, I’m unhappy in my current line of employment and have come to the conclusion that money isn’t everything. How does being prepared to take a salary cut in order to change industry or profession look to recruiters? Thanks, Not Cut And Dried

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Dear NCAD,

A recruiter’s fee is tied to the candidate’s first annual salary (typically 15-20 per cent of the total). It’s therefore in their best interests to push for the highest paid position that you’re qualified for. Usually the applicant wants to maximise their pay too, so the arrangement works out for everybody.

With that said, a recruitment agency won’t ignore you simply because you’re willing to take a pay cut. The main thing that will initially interest them is your current position and the company that you work for. (Indeed, a recent study revealed that recruiters spend an average of just six seconds reading a candidate’s resume.)

If your qualifications stack up, they will be keen to represent you regardless. In fact, this can actually work in their favour as it’s much easier to place a highly-qualified applicant, thus guaranteeing a fast return on their investment.

Alternatively, you may want to forgo recruitment agencies altogether. Prospective employers are sometimes more willing to interview a candidate if they don’t have to pay a recruiter’s fee. You can find plenty of advice on tailoring your resume here.

We’re also keen to hear what our readers think. Have you ever changed industries or campaigned for a lower paying job? Share your experiences in the comments section below.


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    • Can I add that in my experience they are dishonest and discussions are not confidential, no matter what they tell you. If your employer has a relationship with them then there is a strong likelihood they will tell your employer that you are looking around. Remember, it is the employers who pay the fees, the workers are just the product (as is pointed out below).
      This happened to both me and a workmate.

      One of the companies I worked for banned the use of recruitment agencies. They had found that the agencies would keep in contact with the people they placed and as soon as the period for the fee payment had passed, they would start sending them new job offers in the hope they could get another fee.

  • Keep in mind some agencies work on commission, so unless you’re asking fee is significantly higher than what they believe the position is worth, then effectively you’re asking them to take a pay cut in referring you.

  • People regularly seem to forget: If you’re not paying for the service, then you’re the product being sold.

  • i know many people who have taken the same or less money to take a role they want or to get into a company they want. Whilst your best chance for a large pay increase is a job change if you think long term what really drives your career is opportunity and the experience. For that you should walk over hot coals.

  • My assumption is the lower paid position is at a lower grade/skill level then your current position so there is the risk of being perceived as over qualified for the position. Hence you won’t even get an interview because they think you’re over-skilled/too expensive.

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