The Most Strategic Move in Your Career is Not Always a Straight Line

by Stacy Pursell, CPC, CERS

The VET Recruiter®

At the end of the electronic newsletter that The VET Recruiter sends out every month, I usually include a relevant quote. However, rather than wait to put this particular quote at the end of a newsletter, I’ve decided to use it at the beginning of this article.

The quote is as follows:

“Change obstacles into challenges. You might have to step back and go a different direction, but you can achieve.”

The person who said this quote is Raye Montague. Raye was a naval engineer who revolutionized the design process for naval ships. She was also the first female program manager of ships in the United States Navy.

There are a couple of reasons why I’m presenting this quote here. The first reason is because March is Women’s History Month, and Raye was obviously a pioneer for women in the areas of both engineering and the armed forces. The second reason is because this quote has applications for your career in the Animal Health industry or Veterinary profession.

I say this because I’ve worked with thousands of candidates during varying stages of their career, including during their job search, passive or otherwise. I’ve presented employment opportunities too numerous to count, and I’ve seen candidates have a wide array of reactions to these opportunities. Unfortunately, one of the reactions is that they believe the opportunity represents a lateral move in their career, or worse yet, a step backwards.

Many times, that is only what it looks like on the surface, and as we all know, appearances can be deceiving. What looks to be a lateral move could very well be the opportunity you need to grow your career in ways you can’t at the present time.

Too often, people get caught up in the idea of how they think things should happen. They especially do this when they are planning their life, both personally and professionally. In their mind, they have a plan for exactly how things should proceed and they refuse to consider anything that might fall outside of that plan or deviate from it in any way. But as most you probably already know, life almost never goes exactly as planned.

However, the one thing that sometimes seems to be in short supply in life are opportunities. That’s not to say that you must take advantage of every opportunity that comes along. But at the very least, you should seriously consider the ones that make the most sense and that could do the most good for you and your career.

What’s important to remember is that the most strategic move for your career is not always a straight line.

Success was certainly not a straight line for Raye Montague. Check out the trajectory of her career, courtesy of Wikipedia:

Montague joined the United States Navy in 1956 in Washington, D.C., as a clerk typist. At work, she sat next to a 1950s UNIVAC I computer, watching the engineers operate it until one day, when all the engineers were sick, she jumped in to run the machine. She took computer programming at night school while continuing to work and learn the job. She was appointed as a computer systems analyst at the Naval Ship Engineering Center, and later served as the program director for the Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) Integrated Design, Manufacturing, and Maintenance Program, the division head for the Computer-Aided Design and Computer-Aided Manufacturing (CAD/CAM) Program, and deputy program manager of the Navy’s Information Systems Improvement Program.

Raye initially worked as a clerk typist. But one day, she saw an opportunity and she seized it! As it turned out, seizing that opportunity represented the number-one key to unlocking her career success. She wasn’t afraid of the opportunity. She rushed toward it, and her willingness to do that took her in new directions that she could never have imagined.

Did Raye relish working as a clerk typist? We might infer that the answer is “No.” It was in her role as a typist, though, that she had the opportunity to reach her full potential. (Or at the very least, to start on the path to reaching her full potential.)

It’s the same as when you’re presented with an opportunity in the Animal Health industry or Veterinary profession. It might seem as though the opportunity is the same as your current job. It may seem like a lateral move. However, there could be more to the situation than meets the eye. After all, an employment situation is more than just the work that you do on a daily basis. It’s also the environment in which you complete that work.

So the question becomes this one: does the environment in which you current work provide you with the opportunities you need to grow your career and reach your potential?

If it doesn’t, then it makes sense to consider a change of scenery. It makes sense to consider making a move to another organization where those opportunities do exist. Sure, the move that you make could be considered a lateral one when viewed in the context of day-to-day duties and responsibilities. However, a job is about more than just day-to-day duties and responsibilities, and your career is about more than just those things, as well.

Professional success, including success within the Animal Health industry and Veterinary profession, doesn’t always go in a straight line. It rarely proceeds in a nice, neat, orderly fashion with no surprises and no detours. Instead, professional success stems from the willingness to reject the status quo, to not be afraid of chance, and to take advantage of opportunities when those opportunities are presented to you.

Raye Montague serves as an excellent example of this. During Women’s History Month, we should remember her many contributions, but we should also remember and acknowledge how she put herself in the position to make those contributions.

We help support careers in one of two ways: 1.By helping Animal Health and Veterinary professionals to find the right opportunity when the time is right, and 2.By helping to recruit top talent for the critical needs of Animal Health and Veterinary organizations. If this is something that you would like to explore further, please send an email to stacy@thevetrecruiter.com.

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