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.