Could a side step be the move that redefines your career?

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Often looked at as a pointless (at best) or downright risky (at worst) move, there is a growing realisation that a well-executed side step could open up a whole new playing field for your career.

Embrace risk

Have you found yourself stagnating in your current role or industry? Know you have more to offer, but not sure where to start? First, it’s about identifying the gap. What is nobody else doing? Why is nobody else doing it? Would it be beneficial to get good at it? Figuring out your gap or niche, and then doing it well offers the greatest possibility of rapid acceleration in your career. If done right, the career benefits far outweigh the risk.

Identify your strengths

Just because a role doesn’t exist yet doesn’t mean that there isn’t a need for it. What are you good at? What are you passionate about? The most expansive and successful careers occur at the intersection of strength and passion, so if your particular combination doesn’t exist yet, why not create it yourself? And remember, not every innovative move has to be a step outside your current organisation—try identifying a product or service that is missing from within your position. This ensures your ongoing value to the organisation and provides accelerated career progression and satisfaction.

Don’t be confined by discipline

Look at today’s job market. How many of the most in-demand roles even existed when you were studying? This evolution of the employment landscape means that we shouldn’t be constrained by the discipline we started out in. Skills are transferable, and recruiters are waking up to the fact that often it’s the outside hire that brings a big picture perspective and creates the most momentum. At Ampersand, we hire on fit and values first and foremost; we recognise that competence can be built, whereas character is a constant.

This hiring attitude is what sees us bring on experts without any executive search recruitment experience, who go on to be top performers in their sectors. To someone looking from the outside, the transition from marketing manager of a top-tier bank to practice manager of a talent acquisition firm might seem like a risky career move. In fact, this side step has opened up a whole new career trajectory.

Disrupting the corporate ladder

Career paths are not always linear, and the concept of ‘climbing the corporate ladder’ doesn’t always afford the level of opportunity and career success that we think it does. So if you’ve plateaued in your current role, don’t sit and wait for an opportunity on the next rung of the ladder to become available—it may never happen. Instead, embrace the idea of taking a side step to open up higher opportunities and challenge yourself. Be smart about it; don’t just go looking for an unmet need, identify the specific niche that meshes well with your individual skillset. You’ll soon find that your side step has transformed into a step up.


Tracey Petrie, Practice Director: Change, Projects & Technology



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