- August 7, 2019
- Posted by: Augusta Henning
- Category: Career Advice
The interesting thing about career paths is that they don’t always have to be straightforward. Sure at some point you may move forward faster than ever. At another, you might turn off into a different direction. But what about taking a step back in your career?
While the thought may fill you with dread (most people want to climb up the ladder, not down it!), there’s actually no shame in going backwards in your career. After all, life events happen and your priorities might change.
Perhaps you need to care for a loved one, decide to have children, or even lose your job. Whether it’s something you can control or not, you might need to rethink your career. Especially if it’s impacting your general wellbeing.
At the same time, some people choose to take a step back in their career for self-development reasons. From returning to University, to learning new skills or changing industries completely. So long as you’re able to support yourself financially, doing so can be extremely beneficial for your future job prospects.
So when should you take a step back in your career? We’ll explore just some of these instances in more detail below.
When your priorities change
Naturally, everyone’s priorities differ in the workplace. While some of us might enter the world of work hungry for success, others might simply want to get by in a role that’s stress-free and pays the bills.
At the same time, as life events happen, our perspective changes. This means what mattered to you at the start of your working life might not be the same as you progress in your career. For example, professionals that start their own family might favour a role that will give them flexibility. Alternatively, individuals that have caring responsibilities may prefer time spent at home.
With this in mind, it’s important to consider what your main priorities are in life right now. If taking a step back in your career will help you to achieve these and ultimately, make you feel happier, then it might be worth exploring.
When you’ve lost your job
Similarly, it’s not uncommon to take a step back in your career if you’ve recently lost your job. While being made redundant or being fired is certainly not a pleasant process, remember that everything happens for a reason; it could well be a blessing in disguise.
After all, taking a step back to consider what you want to do next can be extremely refreshing. Our lives are constantly jam packed with activity and we rarely get a moment of peace. Giving yourself some breathing space to think about your options could open a number of doors.
Plus, you might realise that maybe you weren’t suited to the role you were in. Perhaps it was too senior for your skill-set; or maybe it wasn’t challenging enough. Either way, don’t worry if you feel like you’re back to square one. You aren’t the first person to go through the process and you certainly won’t be the last.
When you want to learn new skills or qualifications
Whether you’ve lost your job, or you simply aren’t happy in your current role, you might consider learning new skills, or even gaining a qualification. Sometimes in order to do so, you need to take a step back in your career. This is because you’ll need the time and thinking space to focus on your efforts.
Of course, while you might resent having to take a step back now, focus on the fact that you’re working towards something that will benefit your career in the future. Employers are increasingly reliant on highly skilled individuals to drive their businesses forward; so an extra qualification can help you to stand out.
If you aren’t sure what the best approach is, speak to your manager. It may be that they can provide you with in-house training, or even offer you a part-time role to balance with your studies. That way, it won’t seem so much of a step back; merely a slight change in your working day.
When you’re changing industries
Maybe you’ve decided that you want to change industries. If this is the case, you could have a bit of a challenge ahead of you. After all, in order to excel in your role it’s good to have a strong understanding of what’s happening in your sector and how it affects your company.
Because of this, some people find that they need to take a step back when changing industries. Maybe you’re a marketing manager in the retail sector, but need to step down to a marketing executive role if you’re keen to get into the automotive industry.
As mentioned earlier; there’s no shame in doing so. Employers may be wary of taking a risk on you if they believe you lack experience in their industry. But, once you start impressing them with your awesome work ethic, you could be fast-tracked for a promotion!
When you’re able to financially
Another point to consider is whether you’re financially able to do so. After all, while promotions tend to come with a pay rise, the opposite could happen when you take a step back in your career. So, have a think about your finances and how it will impact other areas of your life.
For example, if you have high mortgage repayments or other commitments and wouldn’t be able to make ends meet, this isn’t the best approach to take.
If you’re ready to change industries, learn a new skill or go back into education, consider saving a bit of money before you do so; that way you’re covered in case you run into any financial difficulty.
Should you take a step back in your career?
Clearly, there are a number of reasons why you might choose to take a step back in your career. Whatever it might be, just remember that this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Switching up your career is always exciting, so have confidence in yourself and push forward with your efforts.