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When to Target a Lower Position

When to Target a Lower Position

Ian Christie | Monster Contributing Writer

Does it ever make sense to take a step down the career ladder? If you can get past that nagging, inborn sense that “going lower” can only be a sign of downward career mobility, the answer is yes. Taking a lesser position can help move your career forward if the job fits into a larger long-term plan.

Read on to find out when a lower position might make sense, and how you can make such a transition successfully.

Know Why

What could drive you to consider a lower position? Here are some common circumstances:

Necessity: Economic conditions, your financial situation and lack of other alternatives may necessitate taking the best available option — even if it’s a step down. There’s no shame in this, but be honest about how you got into this situation in the first place. I see too many people making this kind of career decision out of what was avoidable necessity. They were forced to take a lower-level job, because they didn’t take charge of their careers. Do what you have to do, but learn from it.

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To Change Careers: This is a completely valid reason to take a lower position, but remember: Changing professions doesn’t automatically mean you start at the bottom. Look for transferable skills or specialized knowledge that could allow you to slide into something above an entry-level role. Also, changing industries is not the same as changing professions. When you change industries but not functions, target a lateral position, not a lower one. For example, a finance manager in a software company can occupy the same role in a biotech company.

To Broaden Your Horizons: A lower position in a different department can provide new experiences and enrich your career. But as with any career decision, think about the fit, your ability to be successful and how such a move figures into your larger career plan.

To Find Another Way to Advance: Imagine climbing a mountain and reaching a point where the route is blocked or requires climbing skill beyond your ability to pass it. You can give up or make a tactical decision to go back down a bit to look for another route up. Taking the right lower position can be a smart tactical move if you believe you can be successful in the lower role and know there’s a defined path on which you can continue your ascent.

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