Why No Career Move is a Bad One
The one area that unsettles even the most composed and confident of finance professionals is what is commonly labelled, packaged and presented as an ‘unfortunate career decision’. Meaning – a move to a role that actually didn’t turn out to be as senior as it was, into a toxic culture, or into an environment that – for whatever reason – ended in a swift exit, and therefore a short ‘stint’ of experience to contend with.
Often a seeming blemish on an otherwise faultless career, that ‘bad move’ has a way of rearing its ugly ahead in every career conversation that occurs, perhaps raising uncomfortable questions or raised eyebrows in a way that is not helpful.
But, should it be so?
Just like no failure is a failure, (read our recent blog post here>>>), no career move is a bad one. Yes, there may have been a better choice/option that you could have taken, but there are ways to view this in a totally different light, and actually work it into your value proposition as a leader.
Would you be the person you are now, or in the role you are now, without it?
One commonly overlooked factor of a ‘bad’ career move is that it doesn’t define who you are now. Worst case scenario, you may think you have lost a year or so against your peers in terms of progression, but actually this is entirely subjective. Who’s to tell whether a ‘good’ career move would definitively have provided you with more swift advancement?
See every obstacle as a development opportunity
To the above point, all experiences shape who we are now. If you hadn’t have gone through the realisation process of ‘making a bad move’ and dealing with this by either 1) making it work for you, or 2) getting out and back on track, you may not be as strong a finance professional or leader as you are now. What have you learnt or gained from this time? Stronger skills in conflict management, improved resilience, how to deal with curve balls?
Change how you see it and stop presenting it as a ‘bad career move’
Instead of flinching at the thought of having to talk about it in your next career conversation, practice saying ‘what I gained from this time was …’. Think about the soft skills you’ve built and the positive hard skills you were able to gain (industry knowledge, systems, new accountabilities). Focus on why you moved to the next job, rather than why you ‘left’ the old one.
What to do if you’ve just realised you’ve made a ‘bad’ choice
Of course this is all very well if this is in the past. What if you’ve just realised you’ve moved and it’s not right for you? Firstly, don’t panic. Accept that it might not have been the right move. Acting on it by starting to search for another job, but at the same time, look strategically to see what you can get out of your time there. If there’s a project you are part of, ensure you stay and deliver it, even if it’s not that interesting. By delivering what you were brought into do (or at least part of it!), you’ll have a story to tell about the role that is positive, not negative. Above all, don’t leave without another job lined up, unless it is compromising your health or integrity.
The key takeaway here is about perception. If you give off the perception that it was ‘bad’, people will worry or take that negativity on board. If you show the positives, this will become a much less uncomfortable conversation, and give you an opportunity to show off your career development and breadth of experience!
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