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Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Four Tips to Navigate Your career without taking a pay cut

Today job-hopping and career changing is the norm. Employees are currently staying with their companies for an average of 4.2 years and the average Gen-Y employee tenure is even shorter (only 3 years). While some career changes may be linear progressions, moving from one company to another in the same industry to secure a pay bump or a promotion, other career changes can set you off on another path or career trajectory entirely. The latter could be described as a career pivot.

Conventional wisdom used to hold that changing course in your career would inevitably mean starting over and taking a substantial pay cut, but that isn’t necessarily true anymore as careers become more flexible and less linear.

Here are four ways to navigate a career pivot to avoid taking a pay cut.

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1. Boost your marketability.

Pivoting to a new career starts with a focused effort to make you a more attractive job candidate. Do an inventory of what skills and experiences you already have, and what skills you’ll need to build to make a smooth transition. This will help you to create a plan to fill in the gaps for skills and experience you may be missing. You’ll want to do this inventory of skills and work to fill the gaps before you leave your current position so when you do make a change, you’ve made yourself as marketable as possible.

Depending on the skills you need, your plan could include taking additional courses, volunteering or picking up freelance work on the side that aligns with your career goals. Think creatively about how you can gain the extra experience. For example, if you’re goal is to move into a digital marketing role and you need more social media experience, offer to manage a social media campaign for a local small business. While it may mean extra work now, it will strengthen your marketability so you’re able to go after a higher salary when you do make your career change.

2. Look to make a change in-house.

Tired of what you’re actually doing, but still happy with your current company? Try changing roles with your current employer. Transferring internally can help you change your career without taking a pay cut. While you may not have all of the skills required for the new role, your employer knows you, knows your work and would likely prefer to keep a great employee, rather than have you leave to pursue something new.

A woman that I interviewed for The Salary Chronicles started as an entry-level executive assistant and moved up through the ranks of her company. Once she had established herself as a valuable employee she began volunteering for projects outside of her function. After a year of meeting and working with other internal teams, she was able to make the switch from her role as an executive assistant to a director of internal operations. She was able to pivot her career quickly and without a pay cut because she had proven herself to not only be an asset in her current role but an employee who could take on more.

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3. Use your unique background as a strength.

When you begin applying and interviewing for roles in a new area, it can be defeating to look at the experiences that you are lacking. Instead of focusing on what you don’t have, think about what you can bring to the table that others, without your experience, might be missing. How can you use your unique background to position your experience as a benefit, rather than a hindrance?

A friend of mine who had been a lawyer for years was looking for a way to pivot her career out of the legal profession, while still maintaining her salary level in order to help payoff her law school debt. She used her strengths in negotiation, mediation and contract review to pivot into a career in business development, where those strengths have served her well.

You may also want to think more broadly about what you can bring to the role, other than translatable skills. Companies are often looking for someone who can bring a unique perspective and fresh thinking to help solve their current business challenges. If you can give them an example of the new ideas you’d bring as an employee, based on your unique background, they’d likely view your experience as a benefit.

If you’re still doubtful about your unique background being seen as a strength, there is proof that it can actually help. A recent LinkedIn study found that changing job functions actually boosts your chances of becoming an executive. According to the study, “each additional job function provides a boost that’s, on average, equal to three years of work experience.”

It’s up to you to position your strengths well so the company can understand your value, rather than expect them do the work to understand how your background can add tremendous value in a completely different role.

4. Ask for more.

Once you’ve navigated the interview process and have successfully landed yourself a job offer, you may need to negotiate to ensure you don’t take a pay cut.

Do your research to understand the pay range for the position and review your strengths and skills that the employer values. You’ve likely done a great job of positioning yourself as a strong candidate for the job, so use those points again to make a strong case that the value you’re bringing to the position is worth a salary at the high end of the range.

Don’t let fear of a pay cut keep you from making a career pivot. With a little extra work to boost your marketability and a clear focus on the value your current skills can bring to a new career, pivoting won’t mean taking a pay cut.


  1. Very nice i am sure this tips will help carrier navigators

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