Saturday, September 22, 2012

When to take a role that’s not a promotion

By Jo Miller 

“Should I stay or should I go now?”
- British punk rock band The Clash, 1981

Your next great leap forward in your career might not be a step up. Imagine you were offered a truly great job opportunity, but with one major catch: it is not a promotion. To further complicate things, the role has no apparent path to a promotion in the near future. Should you take the job?

President of Strategic Regulatory Partners, Wini Wu, is passionate about mentoring technical women and has advised mentees in the United States, Indonesia, and Australia. I asked Wu what guidance she would provide to an up-and-coming woman who found herself in the running for a role that was not a promotion. What are some reasons to consider taking the role?

Wu’s advice to women in such a situation is to assess the opportunity in the context of their life as a whole. “During your career and your life, your situation changes” explained Wu. “One of the things you want to consider is what is important in your life in this moment and in the next couple of years?”

Next, Wu encourages women to consider how the role might expand their career horizons. “You also want to look at the role” she said. “Does it expand your responsibilities and (give you) opportunities to go into new areas, such as a different functional area, different industry, or skill set?” There is also the learning opportunity to consider Wu pointed out,“Is it a challenge in a good way?”

Does the new opportunity expand your professional network? “Consider opportunities to learn new skills and network with new people” said Wu. Her bottom line, “Take risks and if it feels right, just do it!”

Liza Cuevas is Senior Director of HR with Citrix Systems bringing over 20 years of experience as a strategic business partner to engineering organizations. While knowing that she is currently in a role that she finds very satisfying, I asked Cuevas to imagine that someone offered her a lateral move. What are some of the criteria she would use to evaluate the opportunity?

“One thing to consider is that starting a new role does take time and energy”, she pointed out. "So consider the scope of the role. Value creation is a big deal to me; the opportunity to do something creative, innovative, and help the business to move things forward.”

“People and relationships are also very critical to me”, Cuevas explained. Ask yourself, “Can I learn from them and are they a dynamic group of individuals? We spend half our lives in our jobs and I really want to be with people I respect and that I can learn from.”

Finally, Cuevas suggests considering “Does it fit my life today?” For example, do you want to be able to work remotely at times or telecommute, and have some flexibility?

Wini Wu and Liza Cuevas were guest speakers in the webinar Alternate Career Paths: Up is not the only way forward, part of the Emerging Women Leaders webinar series.
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