I worked my way up from minimum wage in office positions to my last position at $12.50 an hour. With the cost of living rising, I still had to cut and cut and cut and take a freelance gig to help pay bills and try to have a life.
After a layoff, of course I realize that starting a new job means I’ll probably have to take a pay cut. I saw a posting today for a position in one of the local health care systems, and upon logging in and clicking on it, discovered it pays a base salary of $7.60 an hour.
So basically, with taxes removed, if I applied for and got this job and was unsuccessful in negotiating my more than ten years of experience into a higher starting wage, I would be making only a tiny bit more than I am on unemployment. And for a year or possibly more following my being hired, I would suffer commensurately.
Workers are constantly told to upgrade skills, get an education and on average, college graduates are better employed than those without a degree. Nowadays, that is only true if the degree is specific to the position and it’s technical. Lately, is that even the case anymore?
In this economy, companies are slashing jobs right and left. There is no guarantee that a college education will guarantee you won’t be the baby thrown out with the proverbial bathwater.
And if you have one, most employers won’t take a chance on you for a minimum wage position, because they (most often rightly) assume that you’ll bail as soon as something better comes along.
It takes time to gain experience and time to go to school and earn a degree, and woe to you if it’s not the “right” degree.
I agree that a starting office position in a health care facility should not earn as much as a highly trained surgeon. But it seems counterproductive to pay so little that a person would have to take several jobs just to have the basics of life: decent shelter, adequate food and some form of health care, let alone be able to save anything.
Working two jobs means I can’t devote my best energy to either of them. Freelance writing isn’t a job to me (yet), because I love to write and would do it anyway. But not getting paid for writing a novel (yet) means I can’t fill two roles AND write. Maybe you can; I can’t.
So is it worth applying? It may be, if this job could be a springboard to a better one, and it’s possible to negotiate a higher starting salary. But with $7.60 an hour and a 20- to 30-minute commute (at rush hour) halfway across town, the gains may not be worth the cost.
Ever face this dilemma? What did you do about it? If you have any ideas I’d love to hear them.