You know that time that you thought that you had been painfully clear about something but it turns out you were wrong?

There was that time where I asked my HR team member to make an entire page of $100 bills to print out and cut up for a training exercise. Instead I got one hundred pages of dollar bills that had been resized to fit an entire sheet of paper. No bueno!

Tempting, but not the page of $100 bills I thought I was

Tempting, but not the page of $100 bills I thought I was

I got this email from one of our podcast listeners who has listened to the show for years and It made me realize that maybe we haven’t been clear about how salary and income works with changing careers to your ideal job.


Re: Podcast Topic Suggestion- Salary Questions


Hi Scott,


You guys have done a GREAT job using some of my previous questions as podcast topics (How to Know If I Should Quit; How to Design Career Experiments).

I have another suggestion: an entire episode dedicated to the worries, anxieties, and questions career changers have about salary.

Money comes up tangentially in many of the episodes, often around how to build a runway before you leave your current role; but I can't recall a dedicated, in-depth discussion about salary.

It would be great to hear some specific examples of your clients who successfully shifted to work that fits them AND increased their compensation.


Or, if it bears out in your experience, people who accepted less salary in the new industry and don't regret it at all because they are happier- either because the work is so gratifying or allows a lifestyle that suits them better.

Some questions I have and suspect you hear pretty often:
-Of course it varies by industry and individual, but in general should career changers be prepared to accept a lower salary?
-What if they are moving from private sector (or government) to non-profit or more “mission-driven” work helping people?
-If I find an interesting role with a great organization that suits my values/interests, is it worth taking a step back, in responsibility and/or salary, to “break-in” to that industry? I.e. use it as a stepping stone?
-Do your answers to any of these questions differ based on the stages of one's career? E.g. 5, 10, 15, or 20 years of experience.

And, then there's the fear/”thought gremlins” that creep in: Although my current work is unfulfilling, I've worked REALLY hard for a decade to establish myself in this profession. What if I let go of this seniority/stability I've achieved, in order to pursue more meaningful work but the industry I really want to contribute in pays less than I've earned previously? It seems like a bitter pill to swallow- to accept financial struggle in order to do work that is meaningful. Have any of your clients ever regretted letting go of stability/security?

I've listened to HTYC long enough to hear your message of hope and I REALLY want to believe that doing interesting, fulfilling work that suits my strengths and values doesn't have to be mutually exclusive with earning a decent livelihood. (I live pretty frugally already but I am in a major East Coast city- great economy/variety of opportunities, but high cost of living too.)

Thanks in advance whenever you have a chance to consider these topics and share your insight with the HTYC following. I'm so glad you all do what you do- it adds so much value for many of us!!

-Lauren, current federal government employee



And that’s when I realized that we haven’t done a great job of helping our listeners understand how salary works.

We had Lauren, who’s listened to all the episodes, many with people who’ve increased their salary while making a career change to a role and company they love.

In fact here’s just a few of our students that you’ve already heard on the podcast, but we never told you that they accepted roles for higher salaries (and many more flexible work environments) Jason, Tanya, Rebecca, Laura, Mike, Sarah, and many more!

I am well aware that many people *choose* to accept lower paying jobs out there, because they think they have to, but In most cases I haven’t found that you need to. In fact that’s a myth I’d like to dispel.

Here’s the email that I wrote back to her!


Re: Podcast Topic Suggestion- Salary Questions




Thanks so much.

Oddly enough we don't have very many people that accept jobs making less money. Roughly 8 out of 10 people that accept new roles after working with us accept for the same amount or more money.

Part of the reason is simply that when you're changing from one company/org to another that's the easiest time to increase your salary through the negotiation process. (and we are really really good at helping with that)

There are plenty of other reasons too. The biggest of which is that we have our clients STOP looking at opportunities that don't pay them what they want.

Most of our clients don't really believe it's possible until they've done it. But it keeps happening over and over like clockwork.

Hope that helps!




We’ve learned over the years that we get the EXACT SAME QUESTION nearly every time when we have an initial call with people about whether or not Career Change Bootcamp or One of our coaching programs are right for them.

“Is it really possible to get a job doing something I love AND make more?”


Some variation of this comes out…. And then we work with them and most of the time they accept a role that pays similar or higher salary but is an amazing fit for them. (BTW I think that this is where our attorneys would like me to say that since our students decide which roles to accept, we can’t guarantee what salary they make… obviously)


Here’s the 3 things that we find usually hold people back


  1. They don’t realize it’s possible to make a change and keep or increase your salary while doing something much more fulfilling
  2. Lack of Know How: Even if you believe it’s possible or have seen it happen with your own eyes, there are a lot of steps that have to happen in between “I need a new job, but I like my lifestyle” and “woohoo crack open the champagne, I just got a raise”. This ranges from identifying what would create a great career for you, to building relationships while increasing your worth, to pre-offer influence of negotiation, to the actual negotiation itself. Most people have know idea that these steps exist, much less where to start.
  3. When are “actual” vs. “perceived” circumstances where you would need to accept less pay.


We’ve decided to make an entire podcast episode breaking down when you Actually need to accept less salary and when you can and should be looking for more.

It works differently than you think it does.


Take a listen here. This may be the most profitable mindset episode you ever listen to.