The Career Ladder: Do You Need To Go Down Before You Can Climb Back Up?

Because switching up your career path could land you your dream job...

In partnership with I Feel Pretty

Keep going, push harder, lean in: 
the message these days is strong and, to be honest, overwhelming. But is it right? With recent studies suggesting that work is the number one stress factor 
in our lives (between 2016-2017, 526,000 workers admitted suffering from work-related stress), many recruiters and career consultants claim the way to get the job you love is through accepting a demotion 
or taking a step back in pay or title, with the aim of progressing towards the job you really want.

‘Developing a flexible mindset 
that is more focused on the quality 
of the work you are doing and your personal growth means that there 
are instances when taking a step 
back, in whatever form, makes 
sense,’ says executive coach and entrepreneur Rose Cartolari (

Meet the women doing just that…

‘All I ever want is to help my clients’

Sami Wunder, 29, 
Love Coach

‘I was working as a consultant for an international development organisation, I was earning £4k each month. But I started to feel that there was more to life and more I could give to the world. 
My husband was offered a great job in Paris and that was when 
I made the call that I wasn’t happy with the work I was doing. I knew 
I needed to shift to a career that brought me happiness and satisfaction. This was when the idea came to me. I’d mastered 
my own dating struggles, I’d overcome so many issues with men, worked on my confidence and my friends were always asking me for my advice. 
I thought, how would it feel if 
I made this into a career? That’s when I started to build up my credentials in the field. When 
the business first started I was down to around £1,750 each month. Now, two years on, I help women internationally, aiming to reach a seven-figure income this year. What’s instrumental in my success is the difference I make 
in people’s lives, but it’s also a journey of courage, as you have 
to believe that this is what you’re meant to do in this world. There are two options for coaching: 
an online programme (£1,750), group coaching (£2,600), or private, where I have some celebrity clients, too. It’s not about the money, all I want is to support and help my clients, but 
I did have a good (happy) cry when I hit a six- figure salary in January.’

‘Interning was the best decision’

Jennifer Hakim, 31, founder and director of Jennifer Hakim Communications

‘I’ve worked in PR for pretty much all of my adult life. 
I started out in fashion as 
a junior account executive, which I thought was the path I was destined to go down. But after my first job, I felt like I needed more meaning in my life. I was earning a decent salary, but I was crying in the bathroom and dreading work. I ended up moving 
to the States, where I studied business at UCLA (University of California, Los Angeles). After I finished the degree, I stayed for another year to work. The vibe in LA is very eco-friendly, everyone is into organic foods and sustainability, and I found a whole new world that I was so interested in. I started interviewing for PR jobs within the eco-friendly field, but I struggled as I had no experience in that specific sector. I finally told an employer that I would start from scratch and be an intern – which I did, for four months. I was, of course, the oldest intern there, but I was so happy 
to be doing what I wanted to do, something with a purpose that had a positive impact. It was a struggle financially, but I made contacts and had an incredible mentor who I looked up to. I then moved back to London and opened my own PR agency.
My ‘aha’ moment was being fully booked earlier this year. For me, that was huge! The internship 
was the best decision I ever made – I had to make 
a sacrifice to move forward and I couldn’t be where 
I am today without it.’

‘I asked a mentor for advice’

Giselle Wainwright, 31, Look’s Features and Entertainment Editor

‘At 27, I was writing for 
an incredible magazine at a national newspaper. It should have been my dream job, but despite being proud of bagging my junior writer role, I was stuck. There 
was no forward progression. No chance to be promoted and I was comfortable. And I knew comfort at work leads firmly to boredom. I sought out the advice of a mentor within my industry and she made the suggestion that if 
I couldn’t go up, maybe I should follow the advice of Facebook COO and author of Lean In, Sheryl Sandberg. She advocates treating your career like a jungle gym, instead of a ladder to be climbed. Meaning sometimes you have to go down, to find the right way to get back up. So, I saved 
for three months to cushion 
the blow of no regular income and then quit to go freelance. I made a strategic decision 
to accept any and every type of work with the aim of making new contacts that would hopefully fuel my career. I even accepted cover of assistant roles (I hadn’t been an assistant since starting my career at 23), but 
I didn’t know anyone on the bigger magazines, so I knew it was important to create those relationships. It worked. That assistant cover? It got me my first interview at a national magazine. It lead me to meet my former boss and she was the person who brought me to Look. Three years on, I’ve been promoted twice, increased my income and I’m definitely not bored.’

Need more career inspo? Check out Amy Schumer’s latest film…

In cinemas 4 May, click here for tickets.


Executive coach Rose Cartolari tells us how to go about that tricky career switch-up…

1. Make sure you can take the financial hit 
(if there is one). You might have to save for 
a few months or find a supplementary means of earning the difference.

2. Keep good relationships with your (old) work network. Make sure you are in touch and 
updated on what they are doing and let them 
know what you are up to.

3. Work on your mindset. Movements are no longer up and down – they can be sideways, 
two-step-back to move one-step-forward and everything in between. Think of yourself more 
as a self-advocator, ready to do what it takes to 
achieve your final goal.