Self-Driving CAReer: What Do You Really Want?

Looking for a new job or analyzing your career? “What’s important to you?” is the first thing we ask when helping a client in career exploration or job search. Yes – this can be an open-ended question, but it can also be answered by looking at a menu of factors that a career or job offers: compensation, work/life balance, upward mobility, social impact, ability to work remotely, no travel, lots of travel, …, the list goes on. 

The usual first reaction is to check every box. Of course I want to have a fascinating job which appeals to my passion to save the world or incorporates my love of food. Oh,and I don’t want to work long hours or weekends. And I want to get paid a zillion dollars in the form of a steady paycheck, with stock options too. Reasonable wish list, right?

News flash … you can’t have it all. The job market is surprisingly efficient. We often hear clients refer to colleagues who never work past 6 PM. Or friends who are making the big bucks. Or contacts who are so excited about their jobs that they think about them 24/7. But these are probably not all one person. Jobs that traditionally offer generous compensation involve long, unpredictable hours. Roles that seem free of stress may not offer upward mobility.

People are making choices. The friend who is working at a nonprofit to help the environment may be living with his parents because his paycheck doesn’t cover rent. The colleague who is making the big bucks is probably working 24/7, but may be saving to start her own business in a few years. The contact who has a job with little room for advancement may be taking night courses in coding and planning a career pivot. There are trade-offs for many reasons.

The point of highlighting this newsflash is not to create frustration or eye-rolling, but to reinforce that job search involves prioritizing what is important to you as the job seeker. You are in the driver’s seat to direct your focus to industries and jobs that check off your personal wish list, and to plan your future.

Priorities and compromises lead to optimal choices. It’s time to get behind the wheel.

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