“If I don’t move soon I’ll be stuck in the same position.”

Dear Helen

I’m a mature woman with a successful management career in PR at a privately owned company. I’ve been in the same position for the past six years and in that time have developed and grown a successful team, taking on new responsibilities for Public Affairs and social media. I’m well paid and have a good degree of autonomy. However, I am worried that this is as far as I can go in my current role. The person I report to is a company director, a similar age as me and has reached the top of her career. I’ve invested a lot of time over the past few years into my professional development. I’d like to move up a step and believe that if I don’t move soon I’ll be stuck in the same position for the remainder of my career. The clock is very definitely clicking. However, I am also the sole earner with two children so cannot afford to take too many risks.

I’d value any advice,

Kind regards


Helen Brown

Helen Brown

Hello Jenny,

 You sound reasonably content in your current role. You mention excellent pay, a great team and a good degree of autonomy due to your proven performance over the last six years. For most people that would be ideal and sounds like quite a lot to give up? Moving roles to a new employer brings risk as well as potential reward so although you will undoubtedly move into a more senior role with better pay; you will also have to build up that personal brand equity all over again with a new boss before you are a proven member of the team. As the sole earner this is a big step and I understand your concerns but there are a couple of things you can do to reduce the risks involved.

 Have you given your current employer a chance to offer you what you want? If you haven’t done so already, why not have an open discussion with your direct boss or even your boss’s boss about what career options are available to you – maybe they think you are content and therefore are not aware of your burning ambition? If no career options are available in the short to medium term at your current employer then I agree it’s time to start to look elsewhere – the old adage of ‘it’s easier to get a job whilst in a job’ is so true.

 Before you commence your search, prepare by writing a list of what a new job would have to offer in order for it to be worth the risk of moving – there are the obvious things such as a title and more pay but what about the actual deliverables in the role itself; what is your current boss doing in her role which you would excel at? And just as important, what aren’t you prepared to give up; flexibility over hours of work, location of company, pension and benefits, additional training, budget for resource, reporting lines?

 In my experience of hiring senior executives, the women are in many cases more reticent when it comes to negotiating the terms of the ‘deal’ so knowing what you really need to change and what you are prepared to compromise on will make you more confident during any offer conversation. Depending on how much a new employer wants you, you could even consider asking for an extended probation period, golden parachute or sign-on bonus all of which can help mitigate your financial risk when moving to a new role… but importantly don’t communicate the fear of financial risk to the prospective employer as this will weaken your position during negotiations.

 One final point Jenny, I wouldn’t generally suggest this as a course of action but in your specific situation, even when you have a signed offer on the table it might still worth going back to your current employer before jumping ship entirely. Mitigate your risk but go for that promotion.

Good luck!

Kind regards,


My name is Helen Brown and I’m your Careers Agony Aunt for Brand Republic.  I’m also the Chief Talent Officer for Mediacom.  Maybe you’re frustrated about losing that promotion or not sure whether to accept a tempting job offer?  You might be suffering from a lack of development or struggling with management. Whatever the problem, email here and I’ll do my best to help.

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