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6 Reasons Why Accepting the Offer of A Pay Cut Could Actually Be a Good Career Move


If you’re a construction professional that has ever changed job, there’s a good chance that you may have taken or at least been offered a pay cut at some point – how seriously did you consider it?
Whereas some candidates I speak to won’t consider even a penny less than they are currently on, other candidates seem more open to the idea of a drop in basic salary for a number of reasons that might be quite wise to reflect on.  Recruiters and employers themselves, usually feel far more comfortable working with candidates whose motivation in seeking a new position relates other than PURELY to achieve an increase in salary. Often employers are guilty of not considering all the other attractions of working for them besides just money itself. Let’s look at 6 other factors that candidates should consider when deciding on their response to a job offer:

1.    Job Security

As an overview across the world as a whole, job security seems to be the single most common factor that candidates are seeking in the current market – some locations more so than others.  A stable position with a reputable company that has a large project portfolio, or a single position on a large project with several years worth of work to get through is always attractive. Contrast the benefits of accepting a reasonable regular income compared to the cost of being out of work for several months and receiving no salary during this time. For example, a 10% drop in salary will equate to just over a month’s salary. Think about this if you think there is a serious chance you could be out of work for a month or more whilst looking or that a poor quality employer might not be a safe bet to be employed with for a while. Consider accepting something at a lesser rate to ensure continued employment.  The figures do match up compared to being out of work for several months.

2.    Avoid Gaps in Employment Where Possible

Leading on from the last point, consider your CV. For those out of work and with long gaps in employment can lead Employers to questioning why you were unable to find work.  If you have been offered a job with an employer you are happy with and the only issue is the salary is less than you expected, give it serious consideration before turning it down, your next offer may be some time away and may not even be higher.

3.    Consider Your Career Prospects

During recent years, I’ve heard numerous horror stories from candidates who chased larger salaries with risky employers, over joining more stable companies for less. I regularly see this sort of thing unravel, with the candidate looking for a new employer within several months of joining a good payer but bad employer. It is also no secret that the most reputable employers favour candidates with experience at other reputable construction companies working to International standards.
Larger companies are often more rigid in what they can pay employees. They have large HR departments that set in place strict salary bands to ensure that staff at similar levels are paid the same. Smaller companies can often break this mould and go outside the box where necessary to offer more. However consider the stability of your position and future career prospects with both companies before deciding on your future.  The most profitable option in the short term will not necessarily be the most profitable in the long run.

4.    Cost of Living – When Changing Location

The construction market goes through peaks and troughs like any other.  Some locations boom whilst others bust depending on a number of factors. Hong Kong is very much on the up as is Malaysia, while the Middle East is flat at the current time and the UK is still not back on the up yet.  Each country comes with its own cost of living factors, i.e. Accommodation, tax, food and for some the price of a pint of beer (or two). Weigh up these factors before deciding on your bottom line figure. Countries such as Hong Kong are currently buoyant and offer low tax and general cost of living (see our previous blog on this). It is perfectly reasonable to take a lower basic salary and still live the same lifestyle you are used to with certain geographical changes and it is important to take this into consideration as employers will be doing this when making you an offer. Many Middle East based candidates would do well to consider this fully when prospecting for work in Asia.

5.    Consider the Competition for Job Vacancies

In many parts of the world at the moment construction industry employers typically have quite a bit of choice when hiring at the moment. You would probably be right to assume that you are up against several more candidates for each job you apply for than you were 4 or 5 years ago. Salary negotiations can be harder than ever and competition fierce, as well as employers wanting to cut costs where possible. Be sensible and flexible when setting your salary expectations for a new position. Ask your recruitment consultant for advice on this matter - even comparisons & benchmarking with other candidates we've recently placed. After all, we talk to employers and employees about job offers & salaries every day and we’ve most likely interviewed several other candidates for very similar positions recently and can advise you on where to pitch your expectations in relation to your 'competition' and against market rates in general.

6.    Social Life/Quality of Life

Take social factors into account. Are you working 12 hours a day, 6 days a week currently? Are you working in a hardship posting? Are you commuting 2 hours a day to work? What would it be worth to improve your current working conditions?
All of the above are real life examples of choices that candidates come up against in their working life. For more desirable positions that will give you a better quality of life, consider what that is worth to you and your family and consider the work / life balance when thinking about salaries. Don’t Price Yourself Out of Your Ideal Job that is enough to live on but gives you family/leisure time also.


I understand that everybody has their own circumstances and financial commitments, and that for some a drop in salary is not as viable as for others.  However hopefully after reading this blog, you will be more prepared when recruiters and employers ask you about your salary expectations.  At the end of the day, we all go to work to earn a living and for our ideal job it would be nice to pick-up that customary 5-10% pay rise we are used to receiving when we change jobs. However, many locations do have an oversupply of construction jobseekers making the market  fiercely competitive. Make sure you are giving yourself the best chance of securing the right position and not pricing yourself out of your ideal job.

At Maxim Recruitment, our consultants in the UK, Middle East & Hong Kong have had many years’ experience of recruiting for the construction markets around the world and are highly trained to help confirm employment arrangements, including salary & package arrangements that are the best fit for all parties involved.

We are happy to consult with jobseekers and employers alike on the market rates for specific skill sets.
Best regards,
Stuart Hackett

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