What's a better next step: hacking a more senior role in my current org? Or jumping to another industry?

I work at a government agency designing and building business applications, and have been doing this for several years. I enjoy the work and have spent time cultivating relationships here. I have an idea for a new internal program related to UX/service design and digital services that I would recommend myself as director for. But I also feel the pressure to diversify my professional experience and demonstrate that I can be successful in more than government/non-profit technology (I live in a city with a lot of interesting and cutting-edge startups who are always hiring). Both of these pursuits are attractive to me personally, for different reasons. Staying in this organization would let me continue to build on what I've done so far. But working at a startup would introduce me to more current technology and a consumer/profit-driven environment, something I feel a sense of "ignorance anxiety" about. I'm relatively early in my career and I want to be strategic about my choices, so I'd be curious to know what is more impressive to people hiring in the tech industry: seeing that an applicant grew to a leadership position within an org, despite lacking experience outside of it? Or seeing that the applicant achieved results in diverse industries, with different (and more current) technologies and environments?


Try a non-traditional approach and go for the best of both worlds. (Note: Whether this makes sense and would work depends on the details of the situation, which I don't know)

1) At your current job, bring up your idea for the new internal program and say you'd like to take charge of it. Don't ask for a raise, just say it's something you want to do.
You'll be helping _yourself_ out by A) learning new skills in your new position, and B) getting a promotion which looks good on paper.
You'll also be helping your _company_ out by A) setting up a new internal program which in theory will benefit them (if it's a good idea), and B) not asking for anything in return.

2) Now that you and your company are both better off, A) start keeping an eye out for people in your team (or from outside the company) that would do well in your current position as director. You can even start 'grooming' them for the position. B) Start keeping an eye out for startups that interest you (Angellist, etc.), go to entrepreneur meetups, come up with startup ideas of your own, etc. If you find a cool opportunity go for it. You'll already have built a more diverse set of skills, and look better on paper, both of which will help you get it. Meanwhile, if you don't end up leaving your current company, you've put yourself in a position for an easy raise if the project goes well.

Note: this strategy is only cool to try _if_ the project you initiate with your current company wouldn't totally fall apart without you if/when you decide to leave (i.e. if it's likely that someone else could take your place and keep the project successful and benefiting the company, instead of a liability). That way it's still a win-win, even if you end up leaving.

If you want to discuss your options more according to the specifics of your situation feel free to set up a call,

all the best,


Answered 3 years ago

Copyright © 2019 LLC. All rights reserved.