5 Factors to Consider in a Career Decision (and Why Finances is Last)

5 Factors to Consider in a Career Decision (and Why Finances is Last)
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Some time ago an old colleague asked me for advice.

I hadn’t worked with this person for a while, but I had been following their career, and I knew they were extremely talented. So it was no surprise when they told me they had been approached about a job that paid a lot more than their current role.

My friend asked me, “What should I do?”

“Think about the money last,” I told them.

Now I know the financial aspects of a job are important to career decisions. Very important. But I’ve also met a lot of people who uprooted their jobs for more pay, only to be disappointed because money was the only thing they thought about.

According to the research by Glassdoor and the HBR “one of the most striking results we’ve found is that, across all income levels, the top predictor of workplace satisfaction is not pay”.[1]

So what else can we think about when we’re considering a career change?  When I thought about the shifts I’ve made over the last decade, these are the five factors I came up with.

Depending where we’re at in our careers, we might weight some of these higher than others. The key is to make sure we’re giving consideration to all five.

#1. Career Prospects

A job is about more than the role. It’s about what opportunities the role will also open up in the future. Does the role give you prospects? Does it make you feel excited about the things you’ll learn on the job, the people you’ll work with, or the challenges or opportunities you’ll take on? Is the role a match with your skills, and will it also stretch you in areas you are interested in?

#2. Environment

We spend so much time during every day in our jobs. It’s important to evaluate if the environment that comes with the role will be right for you.

Questions to ask here are:

  • What is the physical environment like (the offices, open spaces, light in the building; Is it fixed or flexi desk, etc)?
  • What is the mental environment like (eg. is it stressful, is the business going through change, etc)?
  • What is the time environment like (eg. are there standard work hours, will you be expected to work late, are their flexible hours, etc)?
  • What is the culture like? Is it fun and playful, explorative, innovative. Culture is an intangible which has a tremendous influence on the level of enjoyment we have in our work. So make sure the culture is right for you and that you will be able to contribute to it.

#3. Wants/Needs

A third fundamental is to consider your own wants and needs. This is a question for you and you only.

“What do you personally need to do your best work?”

The answer is different for every person.

Some people love autonomy. Others love guidance.

For me, I know I need a certain level of time for free thinking. This is where I create value by doing strategic work.

Consider all the elements you need to do your best work. Write a list. This list will be a great check-sheet for whether the role will be a fit for what you’re looking for.

#4. Leadership

Someone once told me ‘people don’t leave jobs, they leave people’. To a certain extent this is true.

Chances are you will spend a great portion of your time working for the person who hires you, so it’s important you respect them and feel they’ll support you.

A great manager will challenge you just as much as they will support you.

I’ve been very fortunate in that the majority of people I’ve worked for have been incredible leaders. They’ve shown me the types of qualities I aspire to, as well as the qualities I look for in people I chose to work for.

#5. Finances

This is the last fundamental. Now I know money is important. But, too often people make decisions on this factor alone!

I’ve known people to go into well paid positions only to find they have to work 70 hour weeks.

By considering this last, it ensures we’ve devoted attention to everything else. This is extremely important for our long lasting satisfaction in a new role.

Summary

These are not all the questions you might consider when deciding on a new role. They are the ones I’ve found important. I hope you find this useful for yourself or a friend. And if you have other ideas for areas to consider, I’d love to hear them in the comments area below.

References

  1. What matters more to your workforce than money, HBR, 2017.
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I'm a digital strategist and channel manager with 15 years experience in digital, across marketing, e-commerce, online sales, digital and mobile app strategy. Companies I've worked for include Coles, ANZ and GlaxoSmithKline. I'm also a graduate and previous sessional lecturer of Strategic Foresight at Swinburne University.