Corporate crossroads

The last two weeks have been a whirlwind of craziness for me at work, as I’ve sought to juggle my current job with some career opportunities and my continuing Diversity & Inclusion volunteer leadership. (This, of course, coupled with business travel and some major Ph.D. program assignments, has left me dizzy and sleep deprived.)

Unfortunately this all came to a head last week, and things sort of fell apart for me. Now I’m not entirely sure where to go from here.

Short background: I’ve spent years enjoying work related to helping teammates find the right jobs, learn how to do them well, be happy and engaged at work, and have successful career paths ahead of them. I’ve also, in between some of that work, had jobs that were NOT so aligned with those areas. Invariably, I’ve found that I do my best work when it’s aligned to helping others have a better work environment, and that I stop doing my best when I’m focused on other things.

I described it last summer as finding my “sweet spot”, and (as you can tell from the post) there was a time last year when I was optimistic that I had finally back in it for the first time in years. Sadly, through circumstances beyond my control and not really anyone’s fault, my responsibilities have shifted back away from the HR-ish work that I enjoy, and I’ve got to focus on other things for the moment.

That lines me up for last week’s momentary meltdown. I found out that I had been selected for a full-time job on my company’s Diversity team, which would’ve had me aligned with my professional passions and my academic pursuits, and would’ve finally helped me make some of the volunteer work that I did into my “day job”. Unfortunately, when the hiring manager went to close down the requisition, and she saw one last application that caught her eye… And ultimately that applicant ended up getting the job instead of me.

I’m disappointed, and I had a good cry last week, but I can’t be too upset about it. The hiring manager was very candid that she thought highly of me, and that it was a tough decision, but that the other candidate just had more experience and was a better fit. I can’t really argue that, now can I? It would’ve been a great job for me, but it didn’t work out, and I’m moving past it. The hiring manager is even helping to connect me with some other leaders who may have opportunities that would be in line with my career goals.

I’m at a crossroads, and need to decide what to do with myself. As I see it, I have a few different career path options:

  1. I stay in my current job, and focus on doing the best that I can in it, while patiently waiting for another opportunity on the Diversity team to open up. I will probably never been an “Exceeds Expectations” employee with the responsibilities that I have now, as they’re just not aligned to my strengths or my passions, but I can work hard and get the job done.
  2. I rigorously pursue a couple of opportunities that are available now, but at a lower “band” (or level of responsibility) than I am currently. This presumably wouldn’t mean a cut in compensation, but it would be a bitter pill to swallow if I had to step down to a lower level after six years at this one. Unfortunately it’s just very difficult to step into a new kind of role at the level where I am, as they look for strong expertise and many years of relevant experience when making hiring decisions. Still, with the right opportunity, this could be the foot in the door that I need, and might pay off long term by getting me on the right career path.
  3. I’m told that there may be some other opportunities coming at my current “band” level, but not on the Diversity team. Still, with the right kind of job responsibilities, this could be a fantastic way to keep me at my present level of career advancement, while aligning me to something much more in line with my skills and education. That doesn’t mean I would be the most competitive candidate for the role(s), but it’s worth exploring.
  4. There’s always the possibility that a great job opportunity will open up outside the company, and I could actually end up changing employers. I’ve been with this company for eight years, and friends will tell you that I’ve obviously had my fair share of the Kool-Aid, but for the right job I might be lured away.

All of these things are swirling around in my head, but I know that before long I’m going to have to make some kind of change to get myself back on track. Obviously there are pros and cons to these options, but at least there are options to consider. For now, I just have to keep my feelers out there for opportunities while doing the absolute best that I can in my role today.

I feel a strong need to make a decision, but I suppose at the moment I just have to be patient until there’s an actual choice to be made.

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