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Should I Accept A Lower Level Job?

human interest, temporary solution, skill level, temporary solutions, job search, job offer, low level, employment, accept, jobs, decisions, levels It’s time for you to get a job.  Any job.  Ever heard this before?

It may come from a concerned friend.  A distant family member who knows better. Or you may simply overhear words like these at a party or in the stands at your kid’s baseball game.

And whether you are a man, a woman, the primary breadwinner, a secondary contributor, old, young, white or blue-collar you may hear these words and cringe.

Part of you will think they are right.  After all, we are here on this earth to work and contribute.  You’d be working and bringing in something.  And at least you’d get these people off your back.

It is a complicated question. And one that, in the end, is a very personal decision. I will never criticize you for making a well thought-out decision.

But I will be disappointed in you for settling for the wrong job when you haven’t thought it through.  When you settle at the wrong time and for the wrong reasons.

Because if you haven’t thought it through, you are reacting.  Not deciding.

Need someone to help you think through your current offer?  Hire me for a power hour or use my SidebySide job offer evaluation tool.

Here’s a scenario you won’t like:

  • After significant prodding from friends and family you go out and start looking for a job that is well below your skill level and experience.


  • As you start to review the job, the role you’ll play and the money you’ll make – the idea makes you feel “less than” but you keep going for the reasons identified above.


  • As you apply and are told you are over-qualified again and again, the thought pops into your head “I can’t even get a job as a (insert job here)”.  And it knocks you down some.


  • When you finally get an interview for this lower-level job you have a brief moment of pleasure.  Somebody wants to talk with you.  But they are not asking you the right questions about management or strategy.  Instead, they are asking about your ability to work nights. Or whether you still have any connections with purchasing managers at your last few companies.


  • You get an offer well below your pay grade and take it. To make some money and get back to work.


  • The first day comes and the early rush of optimism turns into a “whoops, what have I done feeling”.  You examine the contents of your cubicle’s desk drawer and realize that you don’t have a pair of scissors. You’ve never had to ask for a $4 pair of scissors before.  So you don’t.


  • You suffer for three months and eventually quit.  You are angry at your boss for hiring you at that salary.  And at yourself for giving in.


  • You are now back on the market.  Confused and unsure how to explain to friends and family (and the next company) what happened and why you decided to pursue and take that job.


Now, as I said above, I’m not saying there isn’t potential for a positive version of this playing out.  There are companies and situations where you can succeed by shifting down temporarily.  Where people will hire you at a lower level and give you a chance to reset your career in a tough economy.

And in this positive scenario, your first day will feel better and you won’t hate your boss.  You will adjust nicely to the new company, its staff and your new office environment.

This happens when you go in with both eyes wide open.  You’ve asked all the right questions and you are accepting this job with a strategy in mind.

Not just because it provides a temporary solution.

What questions should someone be asking themselves and the hiring company before taking a job below their prior level of pay or responsibility?

Thanks dxbach for the great photo via flickr

Written by: Tim Tyrell-Smith
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Categories: Career Advice

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