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The Question

I am a sales executive and have been out of work for three months. I have recently been offered a role that feels like a step back in my career, but I’m worried about finding a better role now, given the current environment and the pandemic. Should I take the job? What factors should I consider in making this decision? Will this affect my career trajectory in the long term?

The First Answer

Jennifer Ward, partner, Odgers Berndtson, Calgary: If you’re looking for a job and find a position that offers some form of growth, learning or a sense of satisfaction, I would suggest that you consider taking it. Here’s why: COVID-19 is forcing businesses to pivot toward creativity and innovation and job seekers must be prepared to do the same.

While many Canadian organizations are continuing to hire for executive roles, we are seeing a slowdown. There are opportunities in growth areas like health care and food distribution and we’re interviewing to fill critical gaps in HR, IT, supply chain and finance. Overall, however, there are fewer opportunities and these roles will go to the open-minded, agile leaders who find ways to learn, adapt and grow.

If you are considering an offer, ask yourself a few questions: Is the role in a growing industry? Does the organization align with your core values and allow room to progress? What works best within your current personal/family situation?

If you’re concerned about what the “step back” will look like on your résumé, I’d suggest that you let that go. Don’t worry about it or try to hide it. Rather, be prepared to own it and share the positive outcomes of your experience. All executive recruiters will know what happened in 2020 and they will not hold this against you.

Finally, I’d advise us all to remember that a career is a journey, not a destination. There are learning opportunities everywhere. Stay confident, be courageous, find ways to add value and remember that the cream always rises to the top. What may feel like a step back today might end up propelling you forward.

The Second Answer

Bruce Sandy, principal, Pathfinder Coaching and Consulting, Vancouver: Congratulations on your recent job offer. As you are aware, due to the COVID-19 pandemic the unemployment rate is rising very rapidly as a result of companies laying off thousands of employees. There has, naturally, been a drop in new positions being posted. You will need to keep this in mind when making a decision with respect to your current offer.

Other factors that you should consider in making the decision include any other pending job offers or interviews; your interest in the position; the compensation level and package; the reputation, leadership and culture of the company that has made you the offer and opportunities for growth and promotion with this company in the medium and long term. You will want to do your research on the company by reviewing their website and any articles or reports of the company online; interviewing and/or speaking to current or past employees and checking customer/client/stakeholder ratings of this company and their competition.

This will not affect your career trajectory in the long term. Many people take lateral or sometimes downward career moves in order to gain new experience and skills and better position themselves for career progression in the medium and long term.

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