How to make the right career choices for yourself

Written by Bev. Posted in Musings

One year ago, I was pondering whether I made the right decision in leaving my job for a new, quite different job opportunity. At the time, it was a decision that I felt unsettled about because not only was it a whole different type of role but also a whole different work culture. Now that it’s a year later and I’m no longer in that role, I’ve realized I should have seen the signs that it was not the right opportunity for me and unfortunately, I got caught up with the prospect of an increased salary and the overwhelming feeling of wanting an escape [from my previous job]. These reasons alone, I’ve learned and you too shall learn from my mistakes, are not good reasons for making decisions when it comes to your career.

As a current job seeker and having numerous friends and colleagues who themselves have recently had to deal with the strenuous, uphill battle of job hunting, I know that on everyone’s list of considerations are salary, vacation time and benefits. And those are legitimate concerns, they are important things to take into account when you make that next career move. However, numbers can be attractive and cloud your judgement. But at the end of the day, these factors are really, really minor. You have to look at it from a macro perspective before jumping in with your feet first.

 

Address your current skills and future-proof for down the road

We’re talking about the skills and knowledge you currently have and want to build on. I’m sure everyone has administrative skills but that may not be an area you necessarily want to build on. And from there, will the job’s day to day duties allow you the time and opportunity to acquire or expand on other relevant skills or knowledge?

In this day and age, people often go from one employer to another but that company in that moment in time may seem like the one you choose to become a “lifer” in. But, let’s be honest, things change: there may be layoffs, restructuring, acquisitions, change in culture, etc. So while it’s nice to consider the right here, right now mindset, you also have to think about down the road. Will the opportunity give you the tools, knowledge and skills to go in the right general direction, down a chosen career path or even towards a vague idea of what success 10 years from now looks like to you? Or will it be considered a hindrance later on?

In my personal experience, I moved from an executing digital strategies role to a passive spectator of digital strategies. I got to learn about all the new happenings and being on the ground floor in implementing guidelines and standards for this industry I love to adopt, but that was basically it. I watched and other people did. In that regard, I feel like that opportunity did not let me use my current skill set nor future-proof me for jobs down the road and perhaps even hindered me for that time period.

Culture, culture, culture! Aack!

That’s a reference to Liz Lemon’s Cathy impression, by the way.

Here’s an anecdote about the work culture I was just in. My friend tells me her boss plays Eye of the Tiger as their team’s “pump up” song. I tell her, “oh, you know what our pump up song is? SILENCE!”

And it’s a true story, all of it. (Though, luckily, I had two buddies there who helped keep me from going insane from the silence but otherwise, it was silence 98% of the time)

Work culture is EVERYTHING and even though that lamenting post about leaving my old job for this one mentioned that I was bummed to leave my awesome team and friends there, I didn’t really notice how important culture is until I was left with zero work culture. If anything, I now know that culture is as important, if not more so, than money when considering an opportunity. If you thrive in bland, 9-5er and quiet environments, then you’ve considered the work culture and that was a positive for you. Great. But if you thrive in collaborative, team-building, work-hard-play-hard sorta environments, don’t try to settle or talk yourself into an opportunity where it will be the complete opposite.

After all, your job and what you do at it is just a part of the equation. The other part is what you’re surrounded by while you’re doing your job and at first, I thought it was going to be no big deal. I’m an only child. I’m used to loneliness (*playing myself a tiny violin*). But no, I’d say you need some feeling of belonging, of community, of camaraderie other than seeing your coworkers as pieces of a chess game to move around to reach your own objectives.

 

Inspiration *jazz hands*

Relevant to the two prior points but you should be looking at opportunities as a whole, the whole which includes not just the culture but what the culture is the product of: the people! We’re talking top down, from the CEO, the VP, the managers, to the team of people doing the daily grind.

Do they inspire you to do more, learn more, take on different challenges? Or are they just coming to work, getting a pay cheque and going home? Who is your potential boss (or boss’ boss and so on?) and are they genuinely excited about what they are doing and inspiring those underneath/around them to get excited too?

Are these people going to push you to be harder, better, faster, stronger (thanks Kanye!)? You know, not in a having-a-nervous-breakdown-at-work kind of way but a personal growth kind of way?

Seriously, the worst career move you can ever make is going somewhere where you become so complacent that you actually feel like you’re even digressing. Your colleagues and management can be a fantastic source of inspiration with knowledge sharing and job shadowing but at the same time, they can also be a huge detriment.

 

Lastly, go with your gut

Oprah says go with your gut

As my spirit animal, Oprah, has taught me:

Learning to trust your instincts, using your intuitive sense of what’s best for you, is paramount for any lasting success. I’ve trusted the still, small voice of intuition my entire life. And the only time I’ve made mistakes is when I didn’t listen.

Preach it, girlfriend!

I usually get a good sense of the vibe from every job opportunity I apply and interview for. You just kind of know if it’s a right fit for you. You may have a neutral feeling about something and that’s fine as well. But when you get a sense in your intuition that something isn’t the right opportunity, or whathaveyou, for yourself at that moment in time (maybe in the future it will be a better fit), listen to that small voice. Don’t ignore it!

It can help you avoid mistakes and regrets, just ask Oprah.

If it excites you and it feels right, then you know your answer.

 

Thoughts? What are your deciding factors for weighing job opportunities?

 

 

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I enjoy pop culture and traveling so mainly I blog about that.

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