Pay cut – or job cut?

When I was laid off during those dark days at the end of 2008, there were a half-dozen people in the same conference room as me, getting the same pink slip and feeling the brunt of the same bloody axe.

But after a few peeks at social media profiles, I’m shocked to learn that at least one employee that was laid off with me is still working at that same company.

What happened? I’m not sure, but I believe he approached the management team, asked them to reconsider – and most importantly, offered to take a pay cut.

And that’s a big come-to-Jesus question that anyone whose job might be in jeopardy should ask themselves beforehand: how much less would you be willing to work for to keep your job?

Yes, it sucks to work for less money at a job you probably already thought you needed a raise for. But to have 75% of something is a whole lot better than 100% of nothing.

And you can’t assume you’ll bounce back right away into a new job. I’d like to think I had some advantages – I was, after all, a writer in the career field, writing about the very process of getting a job every day – and yet it took me nearly a year to find a job.

Unemployment benefits are often temporary and usually only about a third of what you made before. Would you rather have a consistent job with benefits – or rely on unemployment insurance, from which you have to pay several hundred dollars to continue your medical coverage via COBRA?

It’s why I’ve been telling people that one of the most important things you can do in this economy is to decide what your bottom line is with salary. Yank out those W2’s and bankbooks and crunch the numbers.

If there’s any chance of your company keeping you on, it has to be a big chunk – probably at least 20 to 25 percent – but that might be enough to move you into the “stay” column.

Yes, it sucks. Yes, it’s by no means an ideal situation. But it may buy you time and keep you above water.

And in any case, everyone should know to at least ASK this question. I didn’t know, and would have been willing to bite the bullet (at least temporarily).

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