If you’re an ambitious marketer with big-time career aspirations, it’s important to make every new job you take count.
Each one needs to be a strategically-chosen step forward in your career. But with so many opportunities available, it’s easy to get sidetracked or go down the wrong path.
Choosing a new job is one of the biggest decisions you’ll make in your entire life, and the path you take now will have a lasting impact on your future. Before committing to that new marketing position, make sure it means personal and professional progress.
Evaluating Your Ultimate Goals
The first and most important step in considering whether a new job means a step forward is understanding where your ultimate destination is.
It’s like looking at a map; how can you tell if you’re going in the right direction if you don’t even know where you want to end up?
If you haven’t already, spend some serious time considering your ultimate life goals:
- What do you want to do with your career?
- What personal achievements do you want to accomplish?
- Where do you want to live? What do you want in your lifestyle?
- What are you really good at?
- What have you found most satisfying and fulfilling in your career so far?
These are hard questions, and it’s okay not to have a definitive answer for each and every one. But if you have lofty goals and ambitions, you’ll likely need to start working on them sooner than later. That’s especially important as you start moving into more senior marketing positions–the higher up the ladder you climb, the more difficult it is to change course if you realize you’re going down the wrong career path.
For some advice on goal setting, start here:
- Goal-Setting: Developing a Vision & Goals for Your Career Plan
- How to Set Ambitious Career Goals You Can Realistically Accomplish
- 7 Ways to Set Short- and Long-Term Work Goals
Transitioning Between Firms of Different Sizes
Some marketing career paths are straightforward. But for many marketers, especially those with their eyes on an eventual high-level executive role (with the accompanying marketing executive salary) the road can be much more convoluted.
Reaching the highest echelon of marketing positions often means strategically moving between organizations and industries in pursuit of more challenging roles with more responsibility (with careful consideration not to cross the line into becoming a job hopper, of course).
One situation we often see confusing marketers is the prospect of moving to a business that is significantly larger or smaller than where they are now. It’s hard to get a good perspective on whether a new job is a true step forward when it’s at a company that operates on a completely different scale.
Job titles are an unreliable measurement. A VP of marketing executive search at a smaller organization might effectively be looking for that organization’s Head of Marketing. But that same title might be relatively low on the org chart at a large Fortune 500 brand.
There’s no universal formula to determine whether a potential job will move you closer to your ultimate goals. You need to consider every opportunity on its own and compare it with your vision for the future.
Moving from a Large Firm to a Smaller One
Suppose you were a marketing leader working at a large business with hundreds of millions or even billions of dollars in revenue. What would you do if you were approached by a marketing recruiter on a VP of marketing executive search for a company that was 1/4 of the size?
At your current position, you likely enjoy a large budget, have plenty of resources at your disposal, and manage a substantial team. At the smaller firm, all those will probably be diminutive in comparison to what you’re used to. Even if compensation is competitive, could taking such a job really mean career progress?
Moving to a smaller organization often means more responsibility and authority. If you’re currently a low-level executive at a large firm, you’re probably in charge of a narrow division of the marketing department like digital advertising or regional brand. And you likely have many peers at a similar level.
If you take an executive job at the smaller firm, you’ll probably be at or near the top of marketing for this business. That’s a big escalation of responsibility, even if your resources are a fraction of what you currently have.
That means you’ll be able to have a significant, direct, measurable impact on the success and growth of that organization. You’ll be challenged to do more with less, and forced to get creative with how you allocate your budget and team.
With greater authority and autonomy, you’ll be able to make decisions that previously would have needed someone else’s approval.
If that kind of experience would make you more empowered to achieve your long-term goals, then it’s worth seriously considering the gig at the smaller firm as a meaningful step forward.
Going from Small to Large
What about the reverse scenario? Say you’re the Head of Marketing at a medium-sized business and you’ve been approached with an opportunity as a mid-level exec at a large multinational firm?
The prospect of working at a big, famous brand with a hefty budget is generally appealing to most ambitious, experienced marketing professionals. But is it really a career step forward if you’re moving from being a Head of Marketing to a Director or VP?
Again, the answer depends on the specifics of the role itself and how it relates to your personal ambitions.
A common business platitude is “Never be the smartest person in the room.” It’s corny, but there’s some value to it. When you’re leading a marketing team as one of the only senior leaders, you have few peers or mentor figures to learn from and challenge your way of thought. Being the big fish in a small pond has its perks, but it can also mean there’s a limit to how much you can grow.
Transitioning to a much larger firm means you’ll be accountable to more people, and you’ll be forced to collaborate and forge relationships with your peers to get things done. If that experience is missing in your career history, then this move might be just what you need to round out your resume and prepare yourself for the future.