Bill Wednieski 248-343-6027

How would you like to take a pay cut?

Pay cut

Around the time I turned 40, I was offered my first CFO job at a Tier 2 automotive supplier. I was lowballed and offered 15% less than I was currently making. I quickly turned it down and scoffed at the pay cut. Now, I’m actually kind of embarrassed writing this. I was confident that I had made the right move at that moment. After all, you’re not supposed to take a pay cut when you change jobs and get promoted, right?

Not so fast my friend 

Pay cut, pay cut, pay cut, pay cut, pay cut, pay cut, pay cut,

I was a tax guy and tax director on paper. Never mind what I thought I was – leader, strategic thinker, rock solid on financial reporting, consolidations, bank financing, treasury, and closing the books. I always aspired to become a CFO, but it’s quite difficult to pivot from being “a tax guy” to CFO.

Ask a mentor

I reached out to a mentor to share the news of the “garbage” offer I had received and subsequently turned it down. Boom. My mentor calmly said, “You should have taken the job.” What? Why? I quickly realized this was my chance to move into the seat that I really wanted. Crack into the club. Take the #1 seat in accounting and finance. You don’t go backward from there. Another sad lesson is this advice came AFTER I had turned down the offer.


At the time, I simply could not consider compensation that was considerably less than my current job. My stubborn mind would not allow it. Essentially, I had received raises nearly every single year since graduating from college with some being real whoppers. I kicked ass. I deserved it. I was not going backward. I could not fathom the prospect of losing ground. Looking back on it now, at a minimum, I should have at least taken a weekend to consider this opportunity more deeply. 


The company that made me the CFO offer had a budget. The reality was the company’s offer was a little more than they paid the last guy. If you find yourself in similar shoes, consider asking yourself a few questions before making a decision. How’s the current job market? Is the company larger or smaller than what you’re used to? What’s your current situation? Is your current situation going to get better? Don’t forget to consider your mental health too. If you’re unemployed, the noise between your ears is likely even louder. The reality is nobody needs to know what you make. Your compensation can be your private and discreetly held story.


The reality is the most important thing is to be working. Another reality is it is way harder to find a job while unemployed than employed. Compromise is not a bad word. And lose the crappy attitude and resentment quickly if you take the job. The fastest way to lose a job you are overqualified for is to act like you are overqualified. Read that last sentence again. Here’s some advice – keep your compensation to yourself and it is always best to be grateful that you are gainfully employed.

Recruiter Bill Wednieski is the Managing Director for The Headhunters. Learn more here.

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