The conventional wisdom is to go for the next highest position.  Don’t take a cut in pay because it will set you back.  Don’t take time off or go for part-time work because you will not be able to get back into the workforce.  But the fact is, sometimes you have to take one step back to move forward.  Each job is not the last one, it is simply another step along the way or another rung of your career ladder.

Here are five ways to take a step back in order to move forward:

  1. Take a cut in pay! Why would I do that?  That will set me back for my next job.  Well, if you have been looking for a long time and not getting any offers, maybe you are asking for too much money.  Just like a house that sits on the market for a long time because the owner insists on getting his price, if you are asking too much, you may be missing out on oportunities.  One of my clients took a 50% cut in pay because he needed to have income to pay the bills and support his family while he continued to look for another higher-paying job.
  2. Take a part-time job – If you are changing job functions or industries, it may help to get your foot in the door by taking a part-time or temporary position.  You get to learn about the industry and have something to put on your resume.
  3. Give up benefits or 401K –  Many interim positions are full-time with good salaries but lack the benefits you may be expecting.   Medical, dental, vision and a 401K are standard benefits these days, but not if your position is “interim”.  Sometimes it helps to get into an interim position which can last from three to six months or sometimes longer, up to a year or more.  This keeps your skills sharp and you stay at an appropriate level position while continuing to pursue permanent employment.
  4. Move to another city…or go from the city to the suburbs or vice versa.  You may be dead set on staying in your current location, but if the jobs are drying up or have moved elsewhere, it is important to take into consideration the possibility of commuting longer or moving.
  5. Step out of management back into operations – If you have been a senior manager and are used to having a large staff to do the multi-tasking you may find those jobs are fewer and farther between.  Stepping back into a role you are familiar with in terms of operations may be the answer.  You will be able to do the job easily and not have to deal with the upper management or the board. 

Amy Geffen is a Five O’Clock Club Certified Career Coach with over 30 years of experience in management, non-profits and associations. She has worked with finance, insurance and engineering professionals, as well as lawyers, editors, marketers, students, and those over 50 experiencing ageism. She has a Master’s Degree from Harvard University and a PhD from New York University.


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