Why I once took a 30% pay cut

Around the middle of my career I took a job that severely cut my pay, and it was massively worth it.

I’d previously worked at a whole bunch of companies of varying interest — from three person startups to 100,000 employee multinationals. I’d been a web developer in all these companies.

Back in the day I used to have a severe job application habit — I think I’ve probably applied for over 300 jobs (maybe closer 400) over the 8 years I was an employee.

One of the 10 or more applications I’d made for a job at the BBC came through, I interviewed and they offered me a role. I was really excited, and a bit overwhelmed, but there was a problem.

The salary was 30% less than the job I was at and I simply couldn’t afford to work there.

However I took the job, and made some lifestyle choices to afford it. Firstly, I moved to a smaller, cheaper flat, then eventually into a shared house closer to West London to even cut more accomodation and travel costs.

BBC Television Centre. Photo taken on my last day working there

The BBC gave me an opportunity to work on an incredible range of interesting projects and technologies.

My BBC desk at CMC (Content Management Culture), taken on a pretty bad Ericsson dumbphone in May 2005

I worked on a project that was nominated for a BAFTA. Some of my code is in webpages documenting the 7/7 terror attacks in London. I was lucky enough to contribute to a number of BBC standards, including accessibility.

I met Pudsey on my last day! I’m bright red from embarrassment

The BBC pushed my knowledge and allowed me to create things used and loved by millions of people every day.

It’s the only job I’ve ever had where I could explain what I did to my grandma.

On top of this, I met an incredible range of superbly intelligent and interesting people. Including my wife.

That job expanded my world enormously.

Of course, this pay cut approach won’t work for everyone. I was young (24), lucky to be in a position to get this opportunity and able to adapt my costs to take advantage of it.

However, a large proportion of my life has been shaped by the decision to take that job.

I went on to work for Google, then start my own company. I don’t think I’d have been able to do either of those things without taking that job and that pay hit.



I build things. Run a food bank charity. Green energy fanboy, sometime investor, sometime coder.

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Jason Cartwright

I build things. Run a food bank charity. Green energy fanboy, sometime investor, sometime coder.