Imagine that you have an opportunity to move into one of a number of open positions in your organization. Perhaps you are offered two different positions and you have to decide which one you want. So how do you choose the right one for you? Or perhaps you're already in a good job, but something that seems to be an even better opportunity comes up in another company. Are you going to make the move?
Having options is great: What a wonderful confidence booster! However, there's also a lot of pressure trying to decide which option is best.
To make the right choice, you have to decide what factors are most important to you in a new job, and then you have to choose the option that best addresses these factors. However this operates on two levels – on a rational level and on an emotional, "gut" level. You'll only truly be happy with your decision if these are aligned. This article gives you a framework for analyzing your options on both levels.
First, we look at things rationally, looking at the job on offer, and also at the things that matter to you. Then, once you've understood your options on a rational level, we look at things on an emotional level and think about what your emotions are telling you.
The first step is to look at your choices rationally. Firstly, you'll look at the quality of the jobs themselves, and secondly you'll think about the criteria you need for job satisfaction.
Factor One: Job Analysis
A good decision is an informed decision. You'll need to gather as much information as you sensibly can about the jobs you are considering. OK, this can be a pain, but think about how much future happiness depends on this decision!
Review the Job Description and Other Related Documents
Analyze Culture Impacts
Analyze Incumbent Success
Analyze Available Resources
Determine Career Progression Path
Armed with the facts about the job, next think about what you are looking for in a great job. Since the whole point is to find the best option for you, you need to do a properly thought-through self-analysis as well.
Factor Two: Analysis of Satisfaction Criteria
Everyone has a different idea of what makes a great job. That's why not everyone wants to be a doctor and why, thankfully, some people find that cleaning out sewers can be satisfying work.
Use these five sets of criteria when deciding on the factors that are important to you for your job.
The Work Itself
What you will be doing on a daily basis should be the primary focus of your satisfaction criteria. Unless the work is satisfying, it may not really matter whether you make vast sums of money, or have a boss you regard as a friend: Nothing will seem quite right. The things to consider here include:
Think about which of these matters most to you, and explore them when you're discussing the new role.
What you are paid is important when making any career decision. Your salary and bonus potential determine whether you can buy a new home, purchase a car, go on vacations, or start a family. It's important that you have a good idea of what you need to achieve a reasonable standard of living. Factors to consider here include:
Does the job give you these?
Culture and Relationships
You will spend a large portion of your day at work. It is important that you get along with your co-workers and feel like you fit in. Sure, there will minor disagreements along the way. However, you should be comfortable working in the environment, given cultural elements such as dress codes and the way that conflicts are resolved. Ask yourself what you need in terms of:
There can be great merit in maintaining a balance between your home and professional responsibilities, and making enough time for leisure and downtime. You need to look at your life and determine what you need from a job so that you can achieve this balance and maintain it for the long term. Think about things like:
Clearly, though, this depends on your goals. If a major goal of yours is to be a great parent, then work/life balance is important. If your goal, however, is to be CEO and build a great organization, then this necessarily involves carrying a heavy workload.
The final set of criteria involves looking at the company itself. People tend to want to work for organizations that make them feel good about what they are doing on a daily basis. Look at the following criteria and decide what it is that you need from the company you work for.
Now, download our free worksheet, and print off a copy of it for each of the options you're evaluating.
Instructions: For each job option you're considering, work through the criteria in the rows of the table one-by-one (we explain these criteria below.) For each criterion, first decide how important it is to you on a scale of 0 (not at all important) to 5 (very important). Next, evaluate how much of the criterion is on offer within the job, using the same scale. Finally, multiply these values together to give the score for that row of the table.
This type of analysis is very useful in helping you quickly see how well your career options match the criteria you've identified as necessary for your satisfaction.
Pulling this Together
Once you've worked through the worksheet for each of your options, add up the scores and total them for each worksheet. This gives you an initial score for how each job fits your needs, looked at on a rational basis.
If some of the scores seem a bit wrong, don't be afraid to revisit them. Spend as much time as you need to make a rational, properly considered decision.
This is not necessarily a comprehensive list of factors. If other factors are important to you, build these into your analysis.
So far, you've looked at the job's criteria and what you need to be satisfied, in an objective manner. However, it's also important to consider how your decision feels. You need to get in touch with your inner self and think about how well the career options fit with your overall sense of self and personal fulfillment. Ask yourself:
If something doesn't feel right, then you need to understand why. Are some factors of over-riding importance? Or are other factors important that are not mentioned? Take the time to make sure that you're comfortable with you analysis, and that you're confident that you've made the right decision, both on a rational and emotional level.
When you have an option that fits both objectively and subjectively, chances are you've got a winning career move. (To read more about making a career decision using emotional criteria, read Am I Making the Right Choice? in the Mind Tools Club Coaching Clinic.)
Making a career move is a very important decision. It requires serious thought and consideration. You can think long and hard and still not come up with a solution unless you have a framework to use to help you make a decision.
With the Mind Tools Club, you get much, much more than you do here for free.
Learn on the move with the free Mind Tools iPhone, iPad and Android Apps. Short bursts of business training ideal for busy people.