Salary Stories: I Took A 32k Pay Cut When I Quit My ‘Dream’ Job

Illustrated by Michelle Mildenberg.
In our series Salary Stories, people with long-term career experience open up about the most intimate detail 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. This is a paid opportunity.
Age: 30
Location: London
Current industry and job title: Head of Operations
Current salary: £50k
Number of years employed since school or university: Nine
Starting salary: In 2012 I was on £16k as a Support Assistant in a primary school.
Biggest salary jump: £18k to £50k in current job.
Biggest salary drop: £50k to £18k (starting salary in new job April 2019 after eight months of unemployment).
Biggest negotiation regret? My starting salary in my first recruitment job. It wasn't a fair or living wage and the commission potential was only ever enough to make my salary a liveable one. 
A bigger regret is starting in recruitment altogether. I never really wanted to do recruitment, hated most aspects of it and found it a really awful environment (verbal and sexual abuse in recruitment firms seems quite common). But I didn't have a clear vision of what I wanted to do post-uni and was quite lost. I was lucky that I managed to get out but it was quite a deep trench and I found my four years in IT recruitment really skewed my perceptions of professionalism and what is acceptable in the workplace.
Best salary advice: If a company is unable to offer you a better salary (e.g. due to strict budgets) and you are sure the job and company is the right fit, look at what else you can negotiate. For example, for the same salary you could work .8 or .9 FTE (working four or four and a half days per week instead of five) or get a salary review date added to your contract.