Help! Should I take a pay cut to secure my dream job

Dear Aunty,

I am a 32 year old with a bachelor’s degree in IT and over 5 years experience in IT. I am married with a wife and have 3 children to support. I am currently employed and get paid ok but I am now thinking about changing careers. The reason why is that I find it very stressful. People with no IT experience demand instant solutions to difficult problems. Also, there is little chance of promotion, I get no support from my manager and  feel like I am the only one in the department who does any work. 
I recently went for an interview for a job working for an international NGO in a non-IT role. I think it could be my dream job as I would have support from colleagues and would being doing a job that really made a difference to people. The problem is that this job is only being offered on a short-term contract and the salary is about 15% less than I get now which would be a struggle financially for me and my family.

If I am offered the  job should I leave my current job even though it will mean a big pay cut?

Aunty says,

I always find it interesting when people say that they want to move to a job where they will make a real difference. In truth most jobs make a real difference. Just because you work in IT it doesn’t mean that you’re not making a real difference to people.

I have re-read your letter several times and still cannot decide whether the NGO job truly is your dream job OR whether you are attracted to this job because it is not your current job. You have a list of grievances regarding your current job (user demands, career progression, support from manager etc.) and I wonder whether you should tackle these problems rather than choosing to leave the IT profession. If your grievances were resolved would you still see the other job as your dream job? This is just a thought and something for you to consider.

Alternatively, it could be that you find that your heart is telling you to do one thing (i.e. take the lower paid job) whilst your head is telling you to do another (i.e. continue in the higher paid role in IT). The decision as to whether to follow your heart or your head is one that only you can make. What might help is for you to see all your options written down. Your 4 main options as I see them are as follows:

  1. You continue working for your current employer in IT and just carry on as normal and continue to feel stressed
  2. You continue working for your current employer in IT but raise your grievances with your employer in the hope that they can be resolved
  3. You continue working for your current employer in IT but look for alternate employment in IT in an organisation with more support and better career prospects
  4. You leave your current employer and take a pay cut to work for an NGO on a short-term contract in a non-IT role

I suggest that you examine each option in turn, writing down the positives and negatives about each option. You should also consider discussing your decision with your wife and family as your decision will not only have an impact for you but also for the rest of your family.

I hope that this advice will be of use to you and wish you all the best for the future – whatever path you choose to take.

Aunty

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1 comment

  1. Reuben Sitali

    This is a very good and important discussion. From the HR point of view, exploring the 2nd and 3rd alternatives will bring the satisfaction that the IT fellow is looking. One of the most important aspects for careers is whether one loves what they do or not. When you do what you love, you do not quit no matter the frustration. Otherwise, one may end up jumping from one organisation to another or from one career to another without really getting the satisfaction from the career(s).

    I have always cautioned people to think wisely before tendering their resignation letter or deserting their current employer. Most people that rush in making decisions and leave have come back regretting their actions. Make sure you do not jump from the frying pan into the fire.

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