Manageable Articles

Thought-provoking perspectives on organisations.

Evaluating your next big career move

When you have a choice, how do you evaluate that next move? I've enjoyed talking about this issue with a few CEOs recently. After exploring some potential impediments to making the right move, I conclude below with a five-factor approach to evaluating it.

There's money of course. It's necessary or nice to have. And depending on what motivates you, money will play a part in your decision. Is it need or greed though? And what price do you put on the gnawing feeling of not pursuing your dream job?

Your pride and ego may play a part. Can you accept less pay? Can you accept a lesser title? Must the span of control be wider and more impressive still? Will your pride stand in the way of you doing what you might be good at rather than what looks and sounds good?

What of fear? On the one side, the fear that keeps us from change: fear of failing, fear that you will feel no different, fear of what people will think if you give up that impressive sounding job that pays ever so well for doing nebulous things.

On the other side, there's the fear of running out of time, isn't there? And the fear of regretting not making that move. Fear of missing out on being fulfilled at last.

We might also get stuck because we feel responsible or obliged somehow: to finish the job (as if it will ever be finished), for the team's sake (as if they can't adapt and thrive without you), for the good of the organisation (as if you're the linchpin). Is all this fear again, dressed up as selflessness? Or is it an ethical balancing of one's own needs and those of others?

Then there's what you actually do and its effect on you and the world. Here are five factors that surely are important to take into account:

  1. Purpose: what will you achieve and how does this connect with what's important to you?
  2. Joy: how much satisfaction and fulfilment will you derive from doing this?
  3. Fit: how much will your strengths and talents be harnessed?
  4. Challenge: how will you be challenged to learn and grow?
  5. Alignment: how aligned are your values with those of the organisation, team and manager?

Each of these will no doubt carry a different weight at different times in your career. Since our relative judgments tend to be more reliable than absolute ones, I'd recommend ranking the five factors in order of relative importance to you at the point of decision. Then, for each factor, Challenge for example, rank each of the opportunities in terms of how much you will be challenged relative to the other opportunities.

Now you have a sense of which factors carry more weight to you, and which option offers you the most of what matters. It might be interesting to get someone who knows you well to do the same so that you can discuss the differences in your results.

Money will be on the table, so this factor-weighted approach should allow you to gauge the financial implication of choosing what you really want to do.

Good luck with your next move!