How to make career decisions…

How do people make career decisions? This is one of the most important questions that will impact the success you have in your professional life. It is not simply about obtaining academic credentials, networking, and doing a good job at work- you must also know how to evaluate the opportunities that are presented to you (which as your success grows will happen with increasing frequency).

Here are a few guiding tips as you create your own criteria for making career decisions.

  • Think Long Term, Not Short Term- successful careers are often marked by jumps that may not seem logical in the short term but make sense in the long term. Where do you want to be five years from now and will this opportunity give you the skills and experiences to get you to that position? (If you don’t know what your long term goal is than ask yourself- is this a field I want to learn a lot about?)
  • Money is not King- If you have never taken a pay-cut for an opportunity than you are probably being too conservative. Remember that risk and reward work together so if you’re not taking a risk, there is probably less to gain on the upside. Especially early on in your career, you should think less about $ and more about what you will gain from the experience. MBAs make this mistake the most- thinking that anything lower paying than their previous job is a step down. If someone offered you your dream job for 5% less than what you were earning now would you take it? The perfect location, the perfect position, the perfect team- but a little less money.
  • Know Your Values- Career decisions are personal decisions and your values should play an important role in how you evaluate opportunities. What do you value in an opportunity? Are you willing to compromise your values in the short term to gain a skill set for the long-term? Are you willing to be associated with a product/service that you don’t believe in?
  • Timing- They say that in relationships timing is everything. But remember, don’t let artificial timelines impact the progression of your career. “That sounds like a great opportunity but I just got promoted at my current job.” “I can think about moving only after I finish this fellowship program in 4 months”. When a great opportunity presents itself, you have an obligation to consider it. Always stay true to your values and measure the impact a move will have on your past commitments. (That is- don’t burn bridges.)
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