It’s common to agonize over a career choice, even when your education, skills, and experience point you in single direction. But, once you’ve gotten all of your options on the table, it’s important to make an informed decision. Which factors should you consider in determining which career is right for you? Good question. Those factors could prove critical to your long-term career satisfaction. Consider the following five factors:
1. Do I have the competency necessary to be successful?
If you’re a perfect fit based on your current education, skills, and experience, hat’s off. Finding the perfect fit is often the exception rather than the rule. But, even if you lack ample skills and experience, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you won’t be a good fit. If your growth can be supported through professional development opportunities, it may be a good move. But if not, consider the risk of churning out subpar work product—a mistake that can easily destroy your credibility and threaten your employment.
2. Am I passionate about the work?
If you truly enjoy your work, it cannot help but spill over into the way you execute it. Experiencing drudgery day in and out in the name of financial security can be taxing. Even if fringe benefits make the opportunity seem somewhat more attractive, it may not be worth it. Passion is a special kind of fuel that gets you up early and keeps you up late. When passion is part of the equation, you’ll be more focused on the quality of your work, as well as the impact that you are making.
3. Will I have the lifestyle that I want?
Is life–work balance important to you? If so, do some preliminary research. Find out what the industry standards are, as well as what people on the ground are experiencing. Does this industry/employer allow a flexible work schedule? Commuting? Working incessant overtime, weekends, and engaging in regular travel may put the squeeze on your downtime, as well as significantly impact your personal life. If that’s to be expected, wouldn’t you want to know before you dove in head first?
4. What’s the current salary and earning potential?
You should know before signing on the dotted line. This will help you determine whether you’ll be working to simply get by, or can save and engage in some discretionary spending from time to time. Is a 401(k) package with matching contributions being offered? What about benefits, raises, and bonuses? You should think of your earnings holistically. Opportunities that support your overall financial growth are optimum choices.
5. What is the culture like?
Will you feel like just another cog in the wheel or will your contributions be recognized—encouraged even? Are there layers of bureaucracy seeded throughout? Is this a fast-paced industry that is more concerned with the bottom line? Are there industry perks available that encourage performance and contribute to morale? By looking before you leap, you can make an informed career decision that will serve you well in the long run.
To your success.
Karima Mariama-Arthur, Esq. is the founder and CEO of WordSmithRapport, an international consulting firm specializing in professional development. Follow her on Twitter: @wsrapport or visit her website, www.wordsmithrapport.com