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Should You Accept a Low-Paying Job Offer or Stick With Unemployment Benefits?

February 7th, 2011 · 3 Comments

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So you’ve recently been let go from your company and are receiving unemployment benefits when an amazing thing happens – you get a job offer. But it’s not the offer you were hoping for. While it will definitely pay the bills, it will result in you taking less than 50-percent of what you were making.

What do you do? Is it best to take the low-paying job or continue taking the unemployment benefits? This is definitely not a decision that comes with a textbook answer. However, you may benefit from some basic tips to help guide your decision.

Get a Good Grasp of Your Field

While holding out is not a bad idea for a while, it’s not the best idea to do so blindly. Meaning, if you’re applying for jobs and simply collecting unemployment benefits without knowing what’s going on with your field, you may be setting yourself up for a financial and career disaster.

Think about it; there is a reason that your job let its employees go. Business probably was not good. This means, depending on your field, suffering business may be widespread. Therefore, it is important that you spend time studying what’s going on in your field so that you don’t waste unnecessary time pursuing dead-end opportunities. Check to see if the companies you’re applying with are planning to layoff workers anytime soon. You could even take this paid time off to educate yourself in new fields. It may have been a blessing in disguise that propels you toward a passion you’ve always wanted to nurture.

You Were Given Unemployment Benefits for a Reason

One thing that you should keep in mind when deciding whether to take the lower-paying position is that you were given unemployment benefits for a reason. Not only are they meant to help keep you afloat as you look for new employment, but they were established to make sure that those who are recently unemployed don’t feel that they have to accept anything that’s offered to them.

While you are required to actively seek employment while receiving benefits, there is no rule that says you have to take anything you’re offered. So if you feel that you can go a while longer on the benefits you’re receiving then continuing your search for a position that is roughly comparable to the job you previously held in both salary and benefits isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

Choose Wisely – And According to Your Family’s Needs

As mentioned previously, choosing the right path in this type of situation is not easy. Depending on your family’s financial needs in the short and long term, your decision can vary greatly. So take time to sit down with your family and weigh your options collectively, to ensure everyone is considered in this challenging decision.

The decision to accept a lower-paying position can be devastating when you consider the years of hard work you may have put into another job. It can be a major blow to the ego and wallet. So make sure that your decision to accept or deny is an informed one to ensure you and your family can benefit for years to come.

About the author:

Heather Eagar is a former professional resume writer and is passionate about providing working professionals with current, reliable and effective job search tools and information. If you’re in need of a resume service, compare the top ones in the industry at

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  4. How To “Hide” Unemployment On Your Resume
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Tags: Benefits · Job Search · Recession

  • Guest

    Here is my take … If the pay offered is equal to more than what I am drawing for unemployment plus expenses (to cover gas, tolls, etc) then it may be worth it.

    To put it this way …

    ($W) > ($U) + ($E) = Job

    ($W) = Wage
    ($U) = Unemployment
    ($E) = Expenses

  • Thomasse Guise

    Calculate the difference between what benefits pay and what the salary is. That’s really how much you’re making.

    The only problem with taking a lower paying job is that it shows future employers that you are willing to work for less. I stayed on benfits until I was able to secure a good job. It was tough and meant I had to turn some down, but in the end you have to be true to yourself.

  • Jimmy Hat

     I am in a dilemma now where my unemployment benefits exceed compensation offered by employer prospects. I have tried jumping ship to new industry BUT every company I have interviewed with has had the same excuse, “we feel you dont know enough about the industry” then they low-ball my salary offer. 

    I call BS on that excuse because (1) You obviously liked my resumé Mr. Employer! I wouldn’t be sitting here in front of you if you thought I sucked at what I do. (2) pre-recession 2007-2009 I started in a new industry and sold over $1.5million each year and built relationships with about 100+ cold leads on my own without any training and I have this data documented. 

    I came to the conclusion that businesses are looking for any possible excuse to pay less and thats-that. So for now I am still toughing it out. …unfortunately.