Should I Change Jobs During the Cost-of-Living Crisis?

When you were little, what did you want to be when you ‘grew up’?

Did you dream of becoming an astronaut, or a famous singer?

Maybe you spent the whole of the summer holidays perfecting your footy skills between two flowerpot goal posts in the back garden, convinced you were going to be the next David Beckham.

Perhaps you practised your veterinary expertise on your Beanie Babies, or channelled your inner fashion-designer by creating some seriously fabulous outfits for Barbie.

Is the financial crisis costing people their dream job?

When we're young, our understanding of the working world is wonderfully, naively vague.

We don't consider workload stresses, lengthy commutes, or the tricky juggle of work-life balance.

As we get older, the concept of work takes on a whole new meaning. Our priorities change. While many would love to be in their dream job, sometimes it's just not possible. Money is a common reason why people feel held back from pursuing the job they really want, or one that would make them fulfilled.

If we've never worked in the sector of our dream job before, it's possible that we may start at the bottom. For example, if you've always hankered after a profession as a journalist, you might get your foot in the door by doing some work as a junior first. This will be reflected in your starting wage.

Your career of choice may also require you to do some work experience or obtain certain qualifications.

While this prospect may leave you feeling disheartened, it helps to remember that we've all got to start somewhere. The only way is up, both in terms of your working and financial positions!

Imagine that you're standing in front of your younger self; ask them how they'd like their future job to make them feel. Without missing a beat, the little you would most likely say they want to feel happy and passionate.

Shockingly, only 17% of British workers claim to love their job.

Work makes up such a huge part of our lives.

Many of us tend to spend more time in work than we do at home, and we often see our colleagues more often than our friends. Finding enjoyment in our employment is massively important. We owe it to ourselves.

We may feel torn between pursuing a job we know would make us happy, and accepting or staying in a profession with a higher wage.

Good job, bad pay

What if you're already in a job you love, but struggling to make ends meet with the paycheck?

As the cost-of-living crisis grips the UK, more and more people are being forced to reevaluate their working situation. Unfortunately, job satisfaction and joy can often be placed on the backburner in favor of better pay.

A 2022 survey revealed that over half of full-time UK workers were actively looking for a higher-paid job.

If you enjoy your job but feel the pay is just too low for your circumstances, it might be worth having a chat with your manager. Be open and honest about your situation and explain that managing on your current salary is becoming a struggle.

Employers will not want to lose good staff and it's possible that they could offer you a pay rise, or introduce a bonus or subsistence amount to boost your income, in order to keep you.

It is far cheaper for firms to keep hold of staff than it is to hire and re-train somebody new.

If your request for a pay rise is unsuccessful and you work full-time in the office, could you maybe request a hybrid or remote set-up to save you money on traveling expenses?

Good pay, bad job

Let's take a glance at a slightly different scenario.

Not only are money worries preventing people from applying for their dream job, but they may also be keeping them in a job they don't like.

Your job may pay well, but is it worth feelings of discontent and unhappiness?

Carrying out your duties in a negative, toxic, or unsafe environment can be taxing on your physical and mental health. This may lead to increased periods of sickness or stress-related absence.

Some things are more important than money. You can't put a price on your health.

Things to consider

  • Look at the bigger picture. While your dream job may require a temporary dip in salary, you are unlikely to remain on that same starting wage forever. Over time, your mounting experience should be reflected in your salary.
  • Crunch the numbers. If you've gone for a new job with a lower salary, are there any other subtle ways you could bank some money and increase your income? For example, is your new job hybrid or remote, offering you the opportunity to save on mileage? Will you now be working in a more rural location, away from the lunchtime temptations and expenses of food outlets and shops?
  • Be honest about your personal priorities. For some, joy in a job is of paramount importance, even if it means their income is lower. Others are able to tolerate their jobs in favor of a decent wage that enables them to live freely outside of work.
  • A staggering 60% of people regret not pursuing their desired career. If you didn't take the risk, would you feel some remorse - if not now, then in years to come?
  • Does your ideal career of choice require alternate qualifications or experience? While this may take time to complete, think of it as an investment in your future.
  • Are you waiting for the 'right time' to go for your dream job, or a job you think you might be happier in? Strictly speaking, there is no right time. Life is full of surprises, and we could be waiting forever.
  • If your current job is making you ill – either mentally or physically – it's probably a good idea to start looking elsewhere.
  • No matter how much you may hate your job, try not to quit without a back-up plan. Doing so could place you under financial strain and lead to increased stress. The employment market can be unpredictable and competitive, and there's no guarantee that you will be able to waltz into another job, no matter how qualified you are.
  • You've been offered an amazing job, but your worries have been confirmed: it's significantly less money than the sum you're used to. You've been assured that the wage will rise after your six-month probationary period, but you can't see how you're going to cope in the meantime. Before you decline that offer, have an in-depth look at your current outgoings. None of us like the thought of cutting back on our little luxuries, but if going six months without getting your nails done, or heading out every weekend, means you can accept a job you will be happy in, then surely it's a temporary change worth making?
  • You may be able to claim in-work benefits, such as Universal Credit. Check if you're eligible by using the calculator at Turn2Us.

Money-based questions to ask at an interview

Congratulations – you've got yourself an interview! Great work.

Job interviews can be nerve-wracking, but just be yourself – you're going to smash it!

For some reason, many of us feel a bit awkward when it comes to talking openly about money. We might cringe and squirm uncomfortably when asked about our salary expectations. We may state a lower figure than we were hoping for, and then – in true British style – apologize for even daring to make such a suggestion!

You have every right to ask questions at an interview.

Changing your job is a big move – it's important that you know the facts before making a decision.

Here are some money-based questions that you can ask at an interview. Remember – the interviewer will most likely be expecting you to inquire about pay, so there's no need to feel embarrassed.

  • Is there any movement on the advertised salary, depending on experience?
  • Will employees be granted a pay rise once they have passed their probationary period?
  • Once established in the role, are there any opportunities for progression and pay rises?
  • Do the company offer any bonuses, and if so, how long are staff required to have worked before they are entitled?
  • Are there any additional benefits to take into consideration, which may save you money in the long run (for example, private healthcare)?
  • If you're going to be commuting, ask if mileage costs are covered, or if the company contribute to train fares.
  • It's always worth asking if the company would consider matching your current rate of pay, even if it's higher than the advertised salary. If an employer really wants you, they may be inclined to make exceptions.

Should I change jobs during the cost-of-living crisis?

There is no right answer when it comes to discussing whether or not you should change jobs. There are so many things to think about, and everyone's circumstances and priorities are entirely different.

Job hunting can be daunting at the best of times, let alone during an economic crisis, but you have to do what's right for you. Don't let anybody else pile on the pressure, whether that's your partner, your parents, your kids, or your boss.

Where can I go for money advice?

If you're thinking about changing your job and would like free, impartial money advice, you can visit sites such as StepChange, MoneyHelper, Citizens Advice Bureau, and National Debt Line.

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