Sheryl Sandberg

  • Sheryl Sandberg notices that people don’t change careers because they are afraid about moving backwards in seniority.
  • “If you can financially afford it and you’re going to work the next 30 years, who cares about going down?” Sandberg said.
  • She moved backwards in her role at Google in order to change industries.

Taking a step backward in your career isn’t always a bad thing. In fact, Sheryl Sandberg, chief operating officer of Facebook and founder of, thinks it’s sometimes necessary.

“One of the most important times that I see people not jump when they should is about changing either industries or functions,” Sandberg said on an episode of the podcast “When to Jump.” “There are so many times I’ve seen people not make that jump because they’re afraid they’re ‘moving backward.'” 

Sandberg says to think of a move backward as an investment in your future, if the only way you can change industries is to accept a more junior role. “If you can financially afford it and you’re going to work the next 30 years, who cares about going down?” she said.

The advice comes from personal experience. Sandberg moved from Washington, DC to Silicon Valley in 2001 and struggled for 10 months to get a job. She didn’t give up and go back in the governmental sector, where she would have had an easier time securing a role. Eventually she got an offer at Google.

Her job at Google was a step back from her job as chief of staff. She went from a job with a team of tens of thousands in the US Treasury to her job at Google with a team of four.

But today, she’s glad she took a job that seemed like moving backwards. Being willing to take a step back to move forward “will make a huge difference,” Sandberg said.

Listen to the full podcast interview »

SEE ALSO: ‘I would never hire anyone like you’: Sheryl Sandberg received a brutal rejection when she tried to break into tech

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