Job Search Decisions That Work for You

If you’re facing a major decision regarding your job search or career plans, it can sometimes make you feel like running the other direction! That usually happens for one of several reasons, such as:

  • Although you’re not sure you’re ready to make a change, events seem to be propelling you in that general direction–but the actual direction (choice/decision) isn’t yet clear to you.
  • You’re trying to determine which of multiple choices makes the best sense for you, but you don’t have all the information you’d like in order to make the decision.
  • Certain events or circumstances in your personal life make weighing the decision options difficult at best.

The First Decision-Making Step

Whenever there’s an element of uncertainty (and when isn’t there?!), it’s wise to get as much clarity as you can on why you’re considering or facing a decision. If, for example, you’re temporarily dissatisfied with something about your current job, maybe a job or career change isn’t actually necessary. You might be able to identify a satisfying solution that lets you stay where you are.Good Choice and Bad Choice Road Sign

Another first step involves evaluating the possible down-side of the decision(s) you might want or need to consider, such as the worst-case “what if” scenario regarding a decision to move ahead. As I’ve said before, if you evaluate the worst-case situation,  you might feel you prefer that possibility and stay where you are instead of moving ahead–which, in itself, is sort of a decision.

On the other hand, you want to make the best possible decision you can, given the circumstances, but you know bad decisions too often result in bad outcomes. How do you ensure the decisions you make are as good as they can be?

Guide to Effective Job Search Decisions

Aside from the two “first steps” mentioned above, you can make more effective job search and career decisions by evaluating your options as unemotionally as possible. That can be challenging, because it’s hard to get an impersonal perspective on a situation you’re emotionally invested in, but come as close as you can.

pros and cons, for and against argument conceptOnce you’ve done that, adopt an orderly approach to defining the steps you need to take to achieve your goal. Recently I read an article titled “A Checklist for Making Better, Faster Decisions,” by Erik Larson. Although it was evidently targeted primarily to managers in a business situation, I believe the steps make good sense for you as an individual job seeker. For the full article, which is excellent, you can click on the above link, but here’s the essence of the 6 steps Larson mentioned:

  1. Write down at least three, but ideally four or more, realistic alternatives.
  2. Write down the most important information you are missing.
  3. Write down the impact your decision will have one year in the future.
  4. Involve a team of at least two but no more than six stakeholders. (In your case, this would probably be the job search support team I’ve talked about before.)
  5. Write down what was decided….
  6. Schedule a decision follow-up in one to two months. (You might go so far down the road in one direction that you can’t reverse or go off in a tangential direction if the situation changes substantially. If you don’t do a follow-up check, you might not catch this problem in time.)

Finally, accept the necessity for making a decision based on the best-available information. Rarely, if ever, can you get all the information that might be “out there” somewhere, and more often than not, you won’t have the time or opportunity to acquire more. That’s just the way life is, and you can make the decision process work pretty well for you by adopting a carefully thought-out approach.

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