Managing your career: stick or twist?

2 Jun 2020

‘In the middle of difficulty, lies opportunity’

Albert Einstein

Unexpected events disrupt our routines, jolt us out of our comfort zones, and lead us to ask questions about what matters. It is no wonder, then, that during the current pandemic, many people are rethinking their careers. But what should this look like? Balancing the pressing need to ensure basic survival – of our families and firms – there is also the growing urge to do something new after this crisis has subsided. We briefly consider the two options and ideas put forward to consider and reflect upon.


STICK: Remain where you are

You may be thinking about making a future career move but whilst you continue in your present role, perhaps still in isolation to your colleagues, it is important to ensure that you are still achieving an upward career trajectory and not losing sight of the opportunities within your organisation:

  • Remain positive and ready for the future: It is easy to feel isolated during this time and increasing anxiety for the future. You may still be working remotely and wondering how you can maintain your focus. It is important to keep the optimism and enthusiasm about what you are doing. Keep thinking about the larger company mission for which you are striving.
  • Take initiative: The uncertainty of the work environment can blur the lines across roles and functions. This can create opportunity to reach for additional projects, support colleagues who may be compromised.
  • Be innovative: In these times, every job is different in some way because the context for everything has changed. With this level of ambiguity, comes opportunities for new ideas, new ways of thinking and solutions. Look at how technology innovation has helped support the vast numbers of remote workers. Take this forward as companies evaluate the corporate mould.
  • Expand your network to future proof your career: This has remained our mantra when advising our market and never more so than in the current climate. Keep visible and available to your profession.
  • Embrace the ‘liminal’ period: The hallmark of the career-change process is the emotional experience of ‘liminality’ – that is, existing betwixt and between a past that is clearly gone and a future that is still uncertain. People going through it feel unmoored and oscillate between ‘holding on’ and ‘letting go’ but this fraught stage allows you to process many emotions and thoughts about how you manage your career. Downtime is crucial for replenishing the brain’s stores of attention and motivation.

TWIST: What should constitute a career move?

As a search firm, our job is to ensure that a client reaches out to the best talent and that those candidates we approach, can truly gauge and assess if a role represents a solid career move.

But was does this mean?

When we call a ‘passive’ candidate who has been recommended to us, there are occasions when the their initial question is ‘what is the salary’ or ‘what is the title’. To us, these questions relate to Day 1 attributes of a new job – the candidate is making long-term decisions on short-term information.

To us, a true career move should represent a 30% non-monetary increase

We adopt the recruitment methodology laid out by the Adler Performance Based Hiring System. By utilising this framework, we help candidates identify what a career move should represent:

Stretch: this relates to a role which is perceived to be bigger than your current one. This could be larger projects, a bigger team to manage, more challenging cases to handle.

Impact: the new role must be more important to the ‘mission’ of the company. Your visibility and impact will be greater and the outcome of your work having more influence to the performance of the organisation.

Satisfaction: Following on from Impact, you will feel intrinsically rewarded by the work you are carrying out. It is these intrinsic rewards that will drive your engagement:

  1. Committing to a meaningful purpose
  2. Choosing the best way of fulfilling that purpose
  3. Making sure that you are performing work activities competently, and
  4. Making sure that you are making progress to achieving the purpose

Growth: The new experiences you gain in the new post can be realised far quicker than if you stayed in your present role.

These components are all critical in determining if a new role represents a significant professional step. Yes, the Day 1 needs of salary are important, but it should not outweigh these other elements. A significant increase in salary does not matter if the increase in non-monetary factors are not present. By having a career conversation based on long-term values, there is a far greater chance of deciding if the role represents a legitimate career move. Better to spend more time negotiating the scope of the job and not the compensation increase.

The key to navigating the new post-COVID-19 world requires a proactive approach to reinforce your value in your current role, being adaptable to the ever-changing challenges and ensuring that you have a clear idea of what ingredients are important to you when assessing a new career opportunity. Ideally, being in a career phase where you are not actively looking is a good time to have a far more objective view of a new opportunity – it simply has to be substantially better on the non-monetary values, to pull you out.


Thomas, K, November2009, Ivy Business Journal

Nilofer Merchant, 22 March 2019, HBR

Brower, Tracy, Forbes, April 5 2020

Adler Performance Based Hiring (