RockIt Careers

When Taking a Step Back is a Step Forward

Sometimes when you are out of work or unhappy with your current job, you’re presented with opportunities that, upon first glance, seem like a bad move. It might be for a lower level position than what you’d done most recently. Maybe it’s for a small business and you’ve been working for Fortune 500 companies up until now. Possibly the salary in the offer is lower than you were anticipating.

Much of the time, we just decline. However, as we’ve all been told since we were young, looks can be deceiving. Sometimes, what seems like a step backward is really the right opportunity for you. In the long-run, they could give you some needed experience and training, as well as connections and relationships. These, in turn, might ultimately lead to even better future earnings. The thing to understand is that no career path is a straight line. Mine, and I’m sure yours as well, has had a few unexpected twists and turns, which included “steps back.”

So, today we’re going to talk about the different situations where, even if it may seem like a step back, it actually could be a great step forward.

Getting Your Foot in the Door

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There are times when you are targeting a company to work for, but the position you are looking for isn’t available. Because of this, you might consider taking another job as your first step into the the company, knowing it won’t be your final destination there.

The key to making this strategy work, is to develop a great reputation so that when the opportunity you’re really after does become available, you’ll be the first (and maybe the only) person considered for the job. You’ll also want to network with others on that team or in that department, get to know the managers you might work for, etc. The more familiar they are with you, the better your chances become.

Growth Potential

When you are trying to transition to a new career or are just starting on one, you have two possibilities. The first option is to work for a large business or corporation, which will have more advancement opportunities. While this is good, you will also become more specialized in a particular area because large organizations tend to departmentalize more. The other option is to work for a smaller business which will have fewer advancement opportunities. This might initially feel like a step back, but working for a small business also offers you more learning opportunities because you’ll be expected to take on things that are outside your normal job duties.

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Both options have pluses and minuses. You’ll have to figure out what “growth” means to you. You’ll also have to decide what is more important to you: role advancement or learning opportunities.

Experience in a Different Industry

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The amazing part about learning and developing skills is that whatever skills you’ve acquired are generally transferable to other industries. Sometimes industries that you never even considered before. For example, one day while I was driving down the road, I saw a billboard for a roofing coming that said “We’re Hiring.” Most of us, when seeing the billboard, would assume that it’s just roofers that they are hiring for. However, businesses like these need all sorts of other talents for it to be successful. They need buyers, project managers, accounts payable/receivable people, customer service agents, and so on.

What we’re trying to say is that, just because it’s in an industry that you’re not very familiar with, or never considered before, doesn’t mean there aren’t good opportunities for you. While you’re first thought is that it would be a step back for you, it might not be after all.

Discover New Talents

Even when it’s an entry-level role there are new skills that you’ll learn and new talents you never realized you had. Every job I ever did, I found myself doing things with which I was unfamiliar. Sometimes I struggled and other times I excelled. Along the way, I learned that I had good writing skills, I was able to break complex concepts into something understandable, and had a knack for using statistics to demonstrate the value of programs and instruments used in the companies I worked for.

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ImageCreator –

I would take these newly discovered talents with me and build upon them in my next job. So, even though the job title doesn’t match your initial career plan, it doesn’t mean that the job holds no value. Explore it more before you turn it down. See if there is anything you can learn and develop that has utility for the rest of your career.

When to Decide to Take a Step Back

Ultimately, there is no real “step back” in your career. No matter what you do, you’ll be given a chance to learn, grow, and discover. However, if you are presented with an opportunity that doesn’t appear to immediately move you forward in your career. If it doesn’t seem like it’s going to move you up the ladder.  Consider these questions, before you decline.

  1. Will this job give me a foot in the door to a good company?
  2. What can I learn from this job?
  3. Who could I connect with by accepting?
  4. Is the company culture a good fit with my personality and the work environment I want to be in?
  5. Are there future opportunities beyond what is offered today?
  6. If I accept this, how will it serve me?

Depending on how you answer these questions, that step back, may just be a step forward.

About RockIt Career Consultation Services

At RockIt Career Consultation Services, our mission is to help you discover your true strengths and use these strengths to set your course to something more rewarding and exciting in your career.


We will guide you on what job or career best suits you and then help you market yourself through your resume, your networking strategies, your interview skills, and your negotiation to ensure that you are doing something you love and are maximizing your earning potential. Throughout, we will be there to keep you motivated and determined.


We’d love to help you launch your career and encourage you to learn more about the services we can provide you on your path to a more prosperous future. With our help, you will become the applicant every company wants to hire!