I’ve Been A Manager – Should I Take A (sic) Entry Level Job?

Dec 16 2010 in Featured, Job Search Strategy, reCareered Blog by Phil Rosenberg

job search information, job search advice, job search help, job search tips, career advice

During the Q & A part of my Resume Revolution Webinar, a participant asked me whether she should take an entry level sales job, when she had previously been a manager (By the way the grammatical error in the title is from a direct candidate quote).

Taking a backwards career step is a common question as senior candidates often find it more difficult to quickly find managerial jobs in today’s job market. In these situations, Senior candidates must weigh the career risks of taking a backwards step vs earning income more quickly …

Candidate C.M. asked:

“Should I take a entry level position (Verizon-inside sales-corporate office) after having already been in mid-level management elsewhere (I also just received my Masters in Management)? Is this a gamble with my resume and career road map? “

Sure it’s a gamble, but isn’t every new job a career gamble?

I think the real question here asks – is this a smart gamble? …

Taking a step back into a sales production position can be a smart gamble, especially when trying to enter a new industry or job function. In the middle of a recession, taking a step back can be the fastest way into a new industry, perhaps even putting you on a promotion fast-track with a new company. I’ll suggest some signals when this could be a good move but also discuss awareness of danger signs to look out for.

Taking a step back to a staff position – Good signals:

  • Company and department are fast growth
  • Multiple examples of fast-track internal promotion to management positions from inside your target department – look for examples that are similar to your personal situation
  • You fit the mold: If you’re 50+ and a number of others on your team are also more senior former managers, it’s a good sign – especially if you find examples of others in your situation who have been promoted
  • Will you be happy? Can you get over the emotional issues of taking a step back, without being resentful?
  • Can you live with the expected compensation without having to take a second job? Understand that in commissioned sales, it takes time (sometimes a year or more) to build commissions to the “expected ranges” your employer tells you … even if you’re exerienced in sales.
  • You’re willing to prove yourself all over again – Your new employer doen’t care that you already proved yourself with your hard work at age 26. In a step-back position, you’ll probably start from scratch and be expected to prove yourself again with your current employer and industry.
  • Will your past managerial experience combined with the lower level experience in a new industry/function make you look attractive to other industry employers in a year or two?

Taking a step back to a staff position – Danger signs: 

  • You don’t fit the environment: if there are few senior employees of your peers on the team this probably isn’t a smart move for you. Your management may not be comfortable managing more senior employees.
  • You don’t see your own story represented in newly promoted managers: If you’re more senior and an MBA, but see that the company you’re considering promotes 28 year olds or those without advanced degrees – this may not be the place for you
  • You’re not open to being re-trained – One typical reason given for ageism is that senior employees are often viewed as being stuck in their ways. When taking a step back to an entry level, you’ve got to be prepared to be trained in the new employer’s methods and processes. If you’ll resent “some kid telling you what to do” then reconsider a step back position – it will likely end badly.
  • Do careful introspection – If you’ll resent that you have more experience and education than your managers, taking a step backwards is probably not a good move
  • More introspection – If you’ll have a tough time with emotional issues of taking a step back, think twice about making this career move – it’s difficult to hide these emotions at work, if your work is the cause of the emotion.
  • Are you sure you’re willing to start from scratch again? A step-back job will require you to prove yourself all over again. This can be especially frustrating in sales for senior employees who haven’t had to peospect and cold call for years. In addition, it may take a while (perhaps years) to re-build commission-based compensation to your prior pay.
  • The company and/or department is growing slowly or unprofitably
  • The industry is growing slowly or going through consolidation or shakeout period
  • Greater than average risk of company sale/merger/takeover within next few years (including: industry trends, CEO/owner nearing retirement, shrinking sales, low profits)

Personally, I took a step back after winding down my own energy consulting firm, into an entry level training sales position, starting the Monday after 9/11 – not an ideal time to enter the training market. In my own experience, taking the right step back turned out to be one of the best decisions of my career, helped me to enter new markets (HR and Technology), reinvent my career, and set the stage for promotions back into management.

I’ve also helped a number of clients make a successful transition by taking a step backwards. In most case the client was happier, felt their future prospects were better and that it was a good move – mainly because they chose the right opportunity to take that step back. In the one case where the client wasn’t so happy afterwards, they clearly saw the additional risks their future company presented but decided to take the gamble anyway due to immediate income concerns.

Readers – Can you share success or horror stories about taking a step back?

Employers – Have you found success in hiring candidates who were willing to take a step back?

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Source: http://reCareered.com
Author: Phil Rosenberg

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