Creative Career Level Up

‘Help! I’m in a toxic job, but too busy to find another’

May 02, 2024
Photo by NoWah Bartscher on Unsplash

Today I’m analysing the situation of a woman in her 40’s, who works in a busy creative agency in New York.  Let’s call her Millie.

Millie has worked her whole career on the agency side. But her most recent job has left her burnt out and doubting whether the Creative industry is the right place for her.

What’s the challenge?

Millie is in a senior leadership role at her current company.

But like many creative agencies at the moment, economic conditions are making life tough. People have been laid off but not replaced. Work is crazy busy. And being a senior leader, so much of the pressure falls on her.

She very rarely finishes work before 9pm. And she is always at her desk by 8am the next morning. She doesn’t see her friends, can’t go to the gym and worst of all, is too busy to even find a new job.

How did she get here?

Millie has always worked on the agency side. About 10 years ago she wanted to move to the client-side for a ‘slower pace’ but was told by many recruiters that it would be difficult to move into the senior roles she wanted. 

So she put that job-hunt on the back burner and kept focused on her agency role.

She now regrets that and wishes she had tried to move earlier. 

How can she move forward?

The big issue here is finding the time to job hunt when she doesn’t have a minute spare.

Her experience is excellent and will absolutely be valued on the client side. 

But unlike the agency side, many client side roles go direct i.e not through an external recruiter. So she will have to do a lot of the leg work herself.

She needs time to network, find the roles she wants and put the work into applying.

My thoughts

Freeing up her time is the most important thing right now. Without time, nothing will move forward. 

Option 1

  • Millie has been working for 20 years. And one of the benefits of this stage of career is that - hopefully - you have the financial ability to give yourself a break.
  • If she can financially afford to take a break and focus on the job hunt, I would do this.

Option 2

  • If she can’t afford to take some time off work, then freelancing is a great option.
  • Freelance contracts are very common in the creative agency world and offer flexibility without the ‘extra’ stuff that comes with a perm role - office politics, developing a team etc.
  • She can also put gaps between contracts to give herself chunks of time to go deep on job hunting. 

And then…

Once she frees up that time, I would focus on getting coffee dates in the diary with every client-side person she knows. Have Career Chats until she deeply understands what happens on the client-side and what roles might be right for her. She needs this knowledge to move forward.

Once she has this information, plus her time back, securing a client-side role will be much easier.

If you are looking to make the next move in your career and would love some help, the Creative Career Level Up programme might be the right fit.

I help people in the Marketing and Creative and Tech Industries to find their next perfect role. 

If you are looking to level-up your career, use the link below to schedule some time to chat about whether the programme might be right for you.