When Stepping Down is Stepping Up

By June 23, 2014 No Comments

Taking a cut in pay can be well worth it if the change comes with a new opportunity and the potential for growth.  Stepping down doesn’t always mean taking a step back.  Today we feature a post from Conselium regular Taunee Besson, career transitions expert and President and Principal Consultant at Dallas-based Career Dimensions, on how an unconventional move can be just what you need for better balance and a more fulfilling career. — Maurice Gilbert

man on stairsI’ve written before about situations when people worry about stepping down in their careers. Unfortunately, their negative mindset can blind them to a unexpected upside potential. If they review their career options with fresh eyes, they may find one of the paths below is the way to go.

  • Making less money can be a necessary, but temporary, precursor to hitting a financial home run. A confident, optimistic job seeker may choose a small, fast-growing organization that offers excellent potential for increasing compensation. Large bonuses, steeply escalating salary or an equity position may be worth millions.
  • For individuals who are expert deal makers, straight commission may provide the opportunity for a substantial raise. Often seasoned sales pros prefer compensation tied to their production versus a salary or a base plus commission, which limits their income.
  • Then there’s the hardy group who loves to turn around failing organizations. They live for cleaning up messes, motivating demoralized employees, revamping product lines, bringing information systems up to date and having a dramatic positive effect on the bottom line.
  • The attraction of battling on behalf of the underdog can be hard to resist. Our American tradition motivates people to beat the big guy.  Apple didn’t used to be APPLE.
  • Many professionals are heading for smaller, less prestigious companies where they can make a significant contribution. They like the camaraderie, shared mission, quick decisions, fast growth, access to the top and cutting-edge products entrepreneurial organizations can provide.  Gen X and Millennials are especially inclined to prefer this career path versus joining a large, slow, multi-layered organization. Recently, I worked with a top salesman who left a $300,000 position at a Fortune 500 company for less income, plus equity at a small company with great potential. While there were no guarantees, he thought the firm’s outstanding products coupled with his sales and marketing skills would mean increased compensation and personal satisfaction. He was right.
  • A sea change in the way many professionals perceive their careers is the subject of a milestone edition of Fast Company, which focused on the new corporate entity, Me, Inc. Me Inc-ers believe their futures depend on themselves. They are experts with a toolbox of skills that a variety of organizations will find useful. Have toolbox, will travel.
  • Fledgling entrepreneurs think of their businesses as the ultimate step up. Suddenly they are the CEO. They can develop their own culture, create new products and services, hire people they like, make a lot of money and enjoy the variety, flexibility and quick decision making rarely available to an employee. And they can do this until they are 80+.
  • Kathy Dawson, a former HRVP, grew a very successful consulting firm through living its mission, “To provide world-class human resource consulting services and have a life.” Her employees and independent contractors joined her because they wanted a better balance between work and personal time. They work smarter, not harder, on a schedule that allows them to attend kids’ soccer games or take off early for a weekend at the lake.
  • Others are choosing a shorter workweek to spend more time as community volunteers, ease into retirement, take care of their elderly parents, start part-time businesses or pursue their hobbies.  In fact, Jeremy Rifkin says in his thought-provoking book, The End of Work, that this trend is changing the face of our economy.

With all of these opportunities, a step down may be the first step to a new and satisfying career.


Taunee Besson headshotTaunee Besson, CMF, is president of Career Dimensions, Inc., a consulting firm founded in 1979, which works with individual and corporate clients in career change; job search; executive, small business and life coaching; college major selection and talent management.

“One of the smartest minds in the career field,” according to Tony Lee (VP of CareerCast Operations at Adicio and former publisher of the Wall Street Journal’s Online Vertical Network), Besson began writing for the Dallas Times Herald in the early 80s. Having read several of her columns, Lee asked her to contribute regular articles to the Journal’s National Business Employment Weekly (NBEW) as well. Since then, she has been a triple award-winning columnist for CareerJournal.com  and Senior Columnist for CareerCast.com, as well as WorkingWoman.com and Oxygen.com. At Lee’s request, Besson authored five editions  of NBEW’s Premier Guide to Resumes and three of its Premier Guide to Cover Letters. She has also written articles and/or been quoted in The Wall Street Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Business Week, Time, Smart Money and Yahoo among others.

Taunee has worked on community nonprofit boards and committees for over 30 years including Girls Inc., Women’s Center of Dallas, Girl Scouts and Dallas Women’s Foundation, The Volunteers of America and Mortarboard, among others. She was a member of the Leadership Dallas in 1987 and Leadership America in 2003.

In 1994, the Dallas Chapter of the American Society for Training and Development chose her as its “Professional of the Year”. Her NBEW columns were selected for the “Ten Best Article Award” in 1990, 1994 and 1997.  
In 1999, Alpha Gamma Delta, a 200,000 member fraternal organization, named her as one of three “Distinguished Citizens” at its biannual international convention.

Published by Conselium Executive Search, the global leader in compliance search.  

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