Is it a good idea to take a step down to make a step up?

Recently two clients have made decisions to take positions that represented a step backwards. Although there are certainly times when this makes sense, in these cases my instincts say that's not the best strategy.

Here's why.

The first one, as senior manager with global accountability, took a junior management role. This would make sense if a) the opportunity was with one of his identified preferred employers or b) the opportunity was in a new sector that he wanted to transition into. It was neither. Now, only a few months into the job, he has had me integrate this new job into his resume as he wants out. The culture is wrong for him, the position far too junior, and the management style - micromanaging - doesn't allow him to proactively make improvements. All of this makes the possibility of great resume content for the next great job almost impossible to achieve.

The other client is making a transition into a new world, that of HR. She completed her CHRP, achieving top marks, and holds transferable knowledge and skills from her current role, credentials that further sell her into an HR role.

Transitions tend to take longer than lateral or small step up career moves (many factors to consider, so this statement is but a generalization). The typical job search takes 3 to 6 months, with true career transitions coming in closer to the 6-month period. This client wrote to say that she is considering taking a low paying, non-HR position, which is also not related to her previous role in which she achieved  expert-level recognition. This is not a strategic career move. If one is committed to making a change (and she'd be fabulous in HR as her attitude, strengths, and interests are perfect), one really needs to make a full effort, giving it about six months.

(In Canada, EI or severance pay help bridge that time gap, and I do encourage folks not to panic, but to keep working that job search. Life often demands sacrifices: choices mean letting something go in favour of that new "something." One simply cannot "have it all," as some career books suggest.)

In the first case, my senior manager client landed interviews, but only this one offer. My advice is to immediately ensure your interview skills are second to none with interview coaching, so as not to lose out on a great opportunity as the number two choice.

In the second case, my client musn't panic and take the first thing offered (and shouldn't even be applying to low-paying, non-HR related position). A concentrated, dedicated, energetic effort, and strong belief that with a strategic resume a transition is possible - these are the ingredients of a successful job hunt.

As a service provider, I encourage my clients to reach out to me when doubts arise or challenges present themselves. I have oodles of resources ready to share and lots of reasoned and seasoned insights that can overcome negative effects like wellmeaning but ill-informed naysayers. You know, those friends and family members who "read something somewhere" or heard from a neighbour about someone they know who thought s/he could land a job but didn't and is now desitute, last known address a park bench in a local town.

Without a doubt those folks who cannot land interviews were not leveraging the power of the written word (as in a strategic resume), and were not backed by a service provider whose one goal is to see each and every client gainfully employed in his or her field.

Nor did they integrate interview skills that teach them how to sell themselves - their skills, knowledge, talents, strengths, attributes, reputation, and proof of abilities - with coaching from an award-winning employment interview coach - yours truly!

I love helping job hunters succeed and measure my success as a service provider by each individual client's success in landing interviews, and with interview coaching, job offers.

My interview coaching is available to all, whether I helped you with your resume or not.