This is a complex question, but I hope you can help me. My supervisor pulled me aside yesterday and informed me that our department will be reorganized over the next few months. She gave me a choice: be demoted to a job that pays $7,500 less (1/7 of my salary) or be dismissed with eight weeks worth of compensation.
Working for this company has been good, but it’s not my dream job. I’m thinking about taking the dismissal and trying to make a change, but all my friends keep telling me that that’s a dumb idea. But I’m only 26 and I think that maybe this reorganization is a gift disguised as a setback. What do you think?
Given the state of the economy and the impact that budget cuts are having on public and private entities, this is a situation that I think a number of people can relate to. However, it is also a very individualized question. I don’t feel comfortable giving you an answer, but let me give you a few questions that you can ask yourself that might help you make the decision.
How is my financial situation? Sit down and assess whether you can live comfortably on the lower salary. And while you’re at it, determine how strong your financial safety net is. If you choose to leave the job, you’ll need at least three months of expenses saved in addition to what the company is giving you because it might take you longer than you think to find work.
How is the market in my chosen field? Whether you’re looking to stay in your current area or move into something new, you need to know how the market is. Check out job websites, classified ads, LinkedIn and your professional network to see how things look. If the market in your chosen profession doesn’t look good, it’s probably best to stay where you are.
Which choice fits into my long-term plan better? Don’t just think about the next step, think beyond the next step. Where do you want to be in five, 10 or 20 years? Would staying at your current job or finding a new job put you on the right track? If you need to make a change to get to where you want to be, then (provided your financial situation can handle the strain) this might be a good opportunity to take the leap.
Could I keep working here at the lower pay level while I start looking for work elsewhere? If you take this demotion, do you have to sign a contract keeping you with your company for a certain period of time? Or could you take the demotion and start looking for work elsewhere? Because if you know this isn’t the job you want to be doing, then you should be actively working on the next step whether you take the severance or not.
What will I do if I don’t find work quickly? If three months in you haven’t found work, what will you do? Can you pick up temp work? A part-time job? Earn money telling fortunes at the county fair? It’s always a good idea to have a back up plan when making a risky career move.
Leaving a job, even one that is going to pay you less, is a risk. Don’t take this decision lightly. You need to make sure your financial house is in order, that you have a clear view of where you want to go from here and have a fall back plan in case things don’t work out.
Personally, I’d take the dismissal and pick up some temp work while I looked for something more permanent that gets me on the path to my dream job. But you’re the only person who can make this decision.