Trying to switch from startup to large matrix org- hitting walls

I've spent a decade working in startups and have successfully scaled one product. Worked my way up to leadership/executive level (Head of and VP level) with international experience. I've worked with big companies like Walmart and other major corporations- having them as customers. Have grown tired of the instability with startups. As you know 90% of startups don't make it. There is risk in startups- period. And for a long time I didn't mind that given the experience I got. Prior to the startup world I worked for a few very successful large matrix orgs (but early in my career). I'm finding legacy or large matrix orgs don't consider my candidacy now, I think largely they see the short tenures in startups (which is common) given funding issues and struggles startups face. I'm seeking a more stable company (if that ever exists) and I'm willing to explore lower level roles- I feel a VP at a small company is equal to Sr Director or Director in a large matrix org. Seeking suggestions on how to get legacy companies to consider me. The benefit of startup experience is an incredible breadth and depth of skills. You do a lot and have to go deep. Thoughts? I don't wish to be limited to startups but feel legacy companies skip over people like me.

rachelserwetz's profile thumbnail
Hi! I don't think you should be skipped over due to size of the orgs you've been at recently or even tenure there. I'd say there's probably other best practices being missed in terms of the job search approach/strategy that we can strengthen to get your foot in the door. If you're having any challenges with job searching, here are a few job search best practices I'd consider:- Determine what support system you have in place to help you be effective throughout your job search -- Most people feel they have to go it alone and end up guessing where to spend their time versus leveraging a coach, mentor, peer or other tools and resources to be strategic- Most importantly is understanding how/where to spend your time wisely -- its not all about the online apps but networking is a critical component, as well as balancing some time for other key activities in job search (virtual events, thought leadership, research, reflection, etc)- Determine your accountability plan to make sure you're staying on top of your goals & staying organized- Reflect on how things are going on a weekly basis to iterate & improve your approach and thus your outcomes-Be sure not to approach the job in a transactional, check-the-box sort of way -- see networking and interviews as a mirror into the job you would land and an opportunity for two-way assessment of fit- Consider how many roles/industries you're applying to-- this may be a sign that you'd want to take a step back and pursue career exploration to clarify your ideal fit direction; career clarity will help make your search more efficient, targeted, and effective- Don't ignore your self care to ensure your mindset is staying resilient during your searchBTW, I'm Rachel, a Career Exploration Coach (, and I'm happy to chat further if you'd like! I offer a free intiial call here --
Thank you Rachel for the detailed response. Most of what you outlined I am already doing. you give great reminders nonetheless! However with large matrix orgs, I often don’t have contacts into the org so i am left to applying online, and then dealing with an HR screener. I’m speaking to a bias (perhaps unintentional) for hiring managers that have only been in large orgs and don’t understand the experience gained in startups and the equivalencies! (At the resume screening level). I agree though the best is if you can find a way to leverage your network in some way. I am trying to go outside of my specialty so that’s a hurdle (one that can be overcome). Really nice tips -thank you- and I wish you well with your coaching! Love the comment on the two way street evaluation on fit, agree 100%!
rachelserwetz's profile thumbnail
Happy to help you understand other avenues of networking and how to get your foot in the door via warm connections, intros, and more.