The unconventional strategies I used to break through my career rutFeatured

Let me tell you the story of how I went from my being stuck in my career to getting double promoted and making more money than I’d ever imagined. I’d hit a wall in my career a few years ago. I was putting in a ton of effort, but I couldn’t seem to make it into senior leadership. Every action I took was not yielding the results I wanted. I had received stellar reviews and above-average ratings and still no promotion. Each year I went up for promotion (two years in a row), I was given a different excuse as to why I wasn’t ready for the next level. One year, I was told that my skill sets were too broad. The next year I was told my skill sets were too narrow. It was clear to me that there was some other reason other than the skill sets that were preventing me from getting the promotion I believe I deserved. Eventually, I was able to clearly read the writing was on the wall, that senior leadership was not in my future at my company. It was a tough realization given that I spent eight years of my career there. However, all of this run-around inflicted a real beating on my self worth because my reviews told the story that I was ready, however, the actions of leadership didn’t align. It was time for me to move on, but now I had the belief that I wasn’t good enough. What was I going to do? A year earlier, I was forced to work on my mindset when I had to rebuild my life after receiving a cancer diagnosis a week after I got divorced. This situation with my career felt familiar in that I had to change the way I saw my situation and challenge all the conditioning I had received in my life as it related to career. Conditioning such as, it’s impossible to switch industries without starting over at entry-level and it’s a longshot to get a promotion when trying to switch companies. The first thing I decided to do was spend time reflecting. I needed to reflect to gain clarity on the entire situation. I spent time thinking about why I was stuck in my career. I thought about what I liked about my current job versus what I didn’t like. Most importantly, I thought about what I wanted out of my next job and company. I was getting a fresh start so I figured I better not settle for any job just to get promoted to senior leadership. Through this reflection, I realized that consulting in the financial services industry was no longer a match for me. This wasn’t something easy to digest but it gave me insight into why I was stuck in my career. Leadership could see that I was a great employee, but they could also see that I wasn’t really clear on my future at the company and in my career. Armed with this clarity, I took action toward the next steps of getting out of my career rut. The next thing I did was start looking into industries and careers that my skill set could easily transfer to. I knew I wanted to stay in an advisory role so I looked for leadership roles that would allow me to continue consulting without me having to go from client to client. I was keen on going into an industry that I could relate to like media, technology, or beauty. The great thing that happened as a result of me pressing forward is that I started to find a ton of roles that I could transfer my experience to, which completely dispelled the limiting belief that I had to stay in banking. This realization gave me the confidence to challenge other limiting beliefs that had been implanted in my mind. Once my confidence started growing, I began to work on my resume and my brand story. I knew that in order to convince hiring managers that I was the ideal candidate despite not having industry experience, I really needed to develop and align my brand. Also, I reflected back to why I wasn’t getting promoted and realized that my brand story wasn’t connecting. Finally, with my shiny new resume and clarity on what I wanted to do with my career, I tapped into my network and looked for senior leadership roles with companies that I had connections with. I knew that in order to get my resume in front of someone who will listen to my story of why I am the best fit for the role, I had to bypass the resume AI and get it in front of a human who could vouch for me because hiring managers prefer to hire someone that’s been vetted rather than a stranger. During my search, I mentioned to a friend that I was looking for a new role and he offered to send my resume to the Head of talent acquisition at Yahoo. Verizon had just merged Yahoo with AOL and they needed a program manager to help them with integration. Although this wasn’t my exact work experience, the role required the perfect combination of my work experience and it was exactly what I wanted to do in my next role. It was almost like I had trained my whole life for this role. I will spare you all the details of how it all went down, but the message I want to share with is this: by working on my mindset, gaining clarity on what I wanted, and aligning my brand story, I managed to have a role created for me and was promoted up two levels to senior director. The cherry on top was my salary increased by 57%. This didn’t include bonuses and restricted stock units. I didn’t even realize compensation for my talents even existed prior to this experience. Some people accused me of getting lucky but I don’t believe it was luck at all. I spent a lot of time preparing for an opportunity to present itself. Additionally, I didn’t leave my career up to chance by relying on submitting my resume through the company websites. Nurturing my network and making it clear what I do and how I had value made it easy for my friend to recommend me for the role. And that is the story of how I broke through a major block in my career by getting rid of my mind trash, working on my confidence, and challenging the stories I’d been told about how to grow in my career.
Love this and thanks for sharing. 'Mind trash' - not heard it put like that before but it makes sense as it's fair to say too often we allow our self-critic to rubbish us in ways we would never do to a friend or colleague. Some great applicable lessons in here. Too often we leave things to chance or can be afraid of asking for what we want from people most of whom are happy to oblige. keep inspiring.
Thanks for sharing your story @ChristmasHutchinson - congrats on overcoming cancer, navigating divorce and taking back the reins of your career and your life. And let's hope one day your strategies are no longer seen as "unconventional." Because of our history in the workplace, women aren't taught to own our greatness at work. Most of us have that conditioned out of us at home, in school or our first few jobs, so it's easy to fall into the trap of letting our social network, our family, our colleagues, our boss, our employer define our value.If I may, I'd love to build on the richness you've offered:Yes you have to value yourself first, give yourself the time and space to get clear on: what you want, how you want to contribute, who you most want to co-create with, understand how you add value, and own it. And don't be afraid to look outside the typical job description. It's also an intuitive process--another thing conditioned out of us in school. We're taught to use the rational side of our brain, to have a plan and work it. But as you discovered, getting stuck can be a sign of our own limiting mindset, incongruence and dis-ease. Sometimes you have to throw out the old plan, slow down and go within to examine and shift any limiting scripts that are holding you back. If we're playing to our greatness then we may outgrow our circumstances several times in our career. I know a lot of women are in a similar space right now with all that has happened in 2020.I went through a similar journey five years ago. After feeling stuck for 7 years in a role where I was undervalued and unrecognized, I realized I had been hiding out, staying in my comfort zone and hoping that others would value me more than I was valuing myself. I had to change my script. And go from playing the role of an extra to being the author, director and lead actor of my life. Once I got clear on what I wanted and declared it, I landed my dream job within 3 months and increased my income by first 36% and then another 40% within 6 months after that. It was my Dorothy moment. I realized I had everything I needed all along. In my case though the journey didn't end there. I had to continue to listen to and follow my intuition to really align my impact and income and integrate my work-life with my value and my values. Any time I catch myself over-strategizing to fit my circumstances or defaulting to someone else's version of what my value is, I stop and re-evaluate. "Where am I not owning my value?" "Where am I playing small and safe to avoid the risk of... rejection, failure, disappointing others, being disappointed, etc?" "What am I pretending not to know?" "Where would I place my energy and focus if I was owning my greatness instead of trying to prove my worth?"I'm interviewing women right now about the link between their impact and income and what makes them thrive (or not) at work. It's fascinating to hear people's journey's and help them own their greatness so they can tap into new opportunities within their current environment or a new environment. If anyone is interested in connecting with other women to continue this conversation please message me. I'd love to connect
This is so interesting! Are you planning to publish these stories anywhere? I’d really like to read them.
Great idea, Gina. I hadn’t thought of that. Usually I interview people in confidence as they are working through their transition, which sometimes involves a change in their current relationships/job etc. If folks are willing to be interviewed publicly though I’d be happy to share on my podcast.
What’s your podcast? Maybe subjects would be willing to share their stories anonymously? Either way, love the subject!
Gina I love how you think. My podcast is Next Level Conversations- unscripted dialogue on life, love and leadership. I’ve been on hiatus but coming back in the new year.
Full of ideas.. that’s what I’m good at! Need more? DM me. Seriously. I would share ideas to help push the bar all day long if that was a thing. I’ll check out your podcast. Thanks for sharing!
A lot of great advice here - definitely trying to put a lot of this into practice myself.
Let me know how it goes for you?
Will do!
Thank you so much for sharing your journey. I am inspired by what you have done and more so putting yourself our there and being clear about what you want after self reflection.
Amazing thank you so much for sharing!
Bravo, @ChristmasHutchinson !!I love this story so much, because you took ownership and were willing to shift your perspective and take the "risk" to go for it despite past beliefs you couldn't! I am a huge personal branding and mindset work advocate (they're the foundation of my work). Go you!
I love that Elpha selected this as a post that they "thought I'd like to read today." This is so closely aligned to what I am experiencing in my career, having left my role and organization in April to take time to do this challenging work. It's so hard, but it's an incredible privilege to have the resources to take time away and be thoughtful and intentional about what's next.I'm at the point where I am looking for small doses of positivity from day-to-day, adding a little motivation to my discipline to help keep things moving, and this was just what the doctor ordered for today. :)