Salary Story: The Less Fulfilling But Higher Paid Job Gave Me The Safety Net I Needed

Illustrated by Jordan Barton
In our series Salary Stories, women with long-term career experience open up about the most intimate details of their jobs: compensation. It’s an honest look at how real people navigate the complicated world of negotiating, raises, promotions and job loss, with the hope it will give young women more insight into how to advocate for themselves — and maybe take a few risks along the way.
Been in the workforce for at least five years and interested in contributing your salary story? Submit your information here. All published stories receive £100.
Age: 30
Location: London
Current industry and job title: Unemployed
Current salary: £0
Number of years employed since school or university: Nine
Starting salary and year: 2014, £20,000
Biggest salary jump: 2018, from £18,000 to £37,000
Biggest salary drop: 2020, from £52,000 (+ bonus) to £40,000 (+ bonus)
Biggest negotiation regret: The company I have just finished working for didn't inform us about our commission structure changing. When I found out about it through someone not even in my team, I was upset. I spoke to our chief of staff at the time and she asked me to write her an email with what I felt I had earned. I included in my email with the breakdown of all the contracts I had signed a request to have the commission structure included as an addendum in our team's contracts, as should be the case anyway. This went down like a lead balloon. In an intimidating conversation with the CEO, I backed down from my request and ended up apologising for having spoken out at all. I was told I wasn't being a team player. I didn't raise the point that changing a team's commission structure and backdating it without anyone's knowledge is illegal, instead choosing to keep quiet in order to keep my job and make amends with the leadership team. Suspiciously enough, two months later I lost my job, which I believe is in reaction to this situation but they have tried to distance us from it a bit to save face. My biggest regret is backing down so quickly on getting the commission structure included in our contract and not knowing that commission structures are a contractual entitlement – it's essential that you clarify how commission is calculated and when it will be paid. If you work in sales or have a bonus structure of any kind, go away and check what is in your contract now.
Best salary advice: When I was in my early 20s, my priority was to find a job I was really passionate about. I earned very little working in PR and advertising jobs but told myself I loved being in creative industries. I was treated like sh*t, was extremely poor trying to live in London on £18,000 and in general was miserable. When I was 26, I landed a job with a big co-working space and my salary jumped up to £37,000. One of the main reasons I moved industries was because my priorities had changed, I wanted a job where I could save some money. Although the co-working space job wasn't particularly fulfilling, it enabled me to save enough to have a fallback and thank God as I have needed it. I speak to friends all the time who are choosing between the lower paid, more fulfilling job and the less fulfilling, higher paid job. If you are in this situation, just ask yourself: What do I need right now to feel secure? In my eyes, it's okay to do the less fulfilling job for a bit, if you know there is a purpose. If you think doing the less fulfilling job will sap the life and soul out of you and the money won't provide you any security or stability, then don't do it.

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