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Advice on Taking a Demotion Now to Get Ahead Later

Would You Take a Step Down in Your Career to Move Ahead?

The key to getting ahead in your career is simple: take any promotion that comes your way, and keep climbing that ladder. Right? Well, according to some experts, maybe not.

New York Times writer Phyllis Korkki points out in a recent column that the corporate world is changing, and with it, so should our ideas about how to get ahead. Since most career paths today look more like a lattice than a ladder, sometimes you have to take a step backward in order to move forward. To see some situations when it might be wise to take a step down in pay or title in order to get ahead later, read more.

According to career expert Donald Asher, the key to deciding whether a downward move is right for you is to think about where you want to be in five years. If the career path you’re currently on isn’t going to get you there, or if you want to move to a different field, taking a cut in pay or title may be necessary. And of course, as we all know, sometimes you’re just unhappy in your current position and need out, even if that means taking a step down, to preserve your sanity.

Would you ever take a step down in your career to get ahead? Or have you already?

Join The Conversation
cheekyredhead cheekyredhead 7 years
In the medical arena you have very little hope for "moving up" however your responsibilities increase dramatically without any increase in pay. There is academic snobbery within medicine that perhaps is not so prevalent in the corporate world. In the corporate arena experience and drive is appreciated. I wish that was seen in medicine. I left medicine for a while for the corporate world yearning for validation and the feeling of moving upward only to discover my rewards from creating quality of life far outweighed any pat on the back that corporate could give me.
Bettye-Wayne Bettye-Wayne 7 years
Mucha "Short term sacrifices could mean greater long term gains." I agree with that.
muchacha muchacha 7 years
Yes, I would definitely consider taking a pay cut/step down in responsibilities if I were to move into a different field or land a job for the exact company for which I wanted to work. Short term sacrifices could mean greater long term gains.
msfabhoney msfabhoney 7 years
I was recently involuntarily moved out of the position I was hired for. At first I was upset but my pay is the same and I'm learning more which will be helpful in my moving up. I think how you need to make moves to get ahead depends on the company and how it's structured.
jadenirvana jadenirvana 7 years
I actually just did this. I am leaving my company to take a lower salary at another one. I hated working in the male-dominated technology industry and took a leap to work at a more female-friendly television review site (no it's not Buzzsugar:) I hated being the single in-house writer in a tech firm and am looking forward to working on an editorial staff again. I hope it was the right decision and I will have to get back to you!
secondstar secondstar 7 years
I'm just starting out in my career, so I can't actually move down the ladder. However, the jobs I'm apply for are all very low paying, part-time, or glorified internships. I could probably get a slightly higher paying job in a different industry, but this is the best way to get my foot in the door and get me to where I want to be in a few years.
bingbingboom bingbingboom 7 years
These days you can move horizontally as well within the company. I think if I do decide to change a field, I may consider stepping down one level. However, someone I know recently turned down a much better position with the same pay just because she will have a lower title. I personally thought it was a wrong move.
lolanagel lolanagel 7 years
I once took a big leap and quit my job, only to be hired back three months later at a much higher level. There were too many politics for me to be promoted within the existing system, so I had to call their bluff and walk away... risky, but it paid off!
skigurl skigurl 7 years
thankfully, in my line of work, there's a clear progression, so i'll never EVER (legally) go down in pay from where i am now, and i'll only ever be at my same or a higher level i just wouldn't be comfortable with this, but i know sometimes it happens
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