Some people say that a boat owner’s two happiest days are the day they buy a boat and the day they sell it. I disagree, but I do think that the two happiest days as an employee are the days you accept a job and the day you resign to do something else.
Of course, the grass is always greener on the other side, so before you accept that new offer there is a lot to think about. I find that creating a chart that ranks the role from 1-10 (10 being best) across various dimensions and ranks that relative to your existing job (or a second job offer) can be helpful in making a decision. Here are the criteria I like to use:
How motivated will you be?
If you look at the psychological research on self-determination theory or read Daniel Pink’s book Drive, you’ll see that there are three criteria that determine how motivated you’ll be at the job.
Autonomy – The degree to which people leave you alone to do the work in the way you think is best.
Mastery – Your ability to really master a role or skill (i.e. we like jobs we can be really good at).
Purpose – The extent to which the role taps into things that are really meaningful and important to you.
Does it tap into deep human needs?
The book Driven: How human nature shapes our choices, outlines four primary needs for humans:
- Acquire (i.e. get stuff)
- Defend (i.e. hang onto the stuff you have)
- Relate (i.e. form relationships with others)
- Learn (i.e. acquire new knowledge)
Taking these concepts and tweaking them somewhat for the career world, acquire becomes about compensation (i.e. how much stuff does the role let you buy), defend becomes about the stability of the role (i.e. how likely are you to keep your job and therefore keep your house, car, etc), relate is about your colleagues and whether you will enjoy them, and learn is about whether you will develop new skills and/or knowledge.
Does it fit into your desired lifestyle?
Admittedly, this is a bit of a luxury to think about, however I don’t think it is a stretch to say that if you have two young kids at home, your spouse is not going to be pleased about you taking a job that requires travel 70% of the time. Issues around the freedom to control your schedule are key in this area.
Will I like the culture?
This is probably the most important thing to assess in a new opportunity, and one that few job seekers really spend the time to understand.
If you poke around enough, you can get at what it is really like to work at a firm despite the fact that you are being sold on an opportunity. Ask questions like:
- Is this a culture that encourages risks?
- Would you say that this is a customer or employee focused company (i.e. who comes first)?
- What sort of people succeed here/don’t succeed here?
- What is celebrated at the firm (in terms of events, people, outcomes, etc)?
At times these can be difficult questions to ask, so you may consider waiting until after you have an offer in hand and say something to the effect of, “In considering the offer, I had a few questions I didn’t get to ask during the interview that I would like to ask, would you mind…?”
So, with all that in mind, here is a chart to help evaluate an opportunity[sociallocker]
Rank the new opportunity on each criteria below and compare it to a second opportunity (or your current job) to get a sense of which is preferable.
|(Rank 1-10, with 10 being best)||(Rank 1-10, with 10 being best)|
|Motivation: Autonomy (I will be left alone to do my work in the way I think is best)|
|Motivation: Mastery (I will be able to develop a high degree of skill in the role)|
|Motivation: Purpose (I really care about the work I will be doing)|
|Human Needs: Acquire – How well does the opportunity pay today?|
|Human Needs: Acquire – How well will this opportunity pay off in the future (e.g. via stock options, equity)?|
|Human Needs: Relate – How much do I think I will like working with my new colleagues?|
|Human Needs: Defend – How stable is this firm/position likely to be over the long term?|
|Human Needs: Learn – How much will this role develop my skills/knowledge?|
|Lifestyle: Hours – How many hours/week & nights and weekends will I be working?|
|Lifestyle: Freedom – To what extent will I control my time and be able to come and go as I please?|
|Lifestyle: Status/Feeling – How will this role make me feel about myself?|
|Culture Does this seem like a great place to work?|
Total (sum from above)
I find the above exercise very helpful in getting a more objective sense of an opportunity. Having the current job/firm column is useful because it provides a reference point that you know well. Repeating this task for jobs you have had in the past can also be helpful. I wish I could say that if an opportunity scores above a certain number you should take it, but that isn’t the case. My favorite job of my career (prior to this one) scored a 93, but I had to leave because the pay was so low. My two best paying jobs (one early in my career, one more recent) scored 73 and 74, yet I left both of them because I was unhappy. In other words, this is a deeply personal decision.
If there is a criteria you think I missed, or if you are a nerd like me and want this in spreadsheet form so you can play around with it, add your own criteria, rank every job you have ever had, etc, please email me. I hope that in some small way this helps you thrive in your professional life so that you can have more in your personal life.[/sociallocker]