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What to consider while making career choices?

What to consider while making career choices?
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Last week, I interacted with nearly 150 young and bright engineers. We had in-depth interactions on how people make decisions related to their career...

Last week, I interacted with nearly 150 young and bright engineers. We had in-depth interactions on how people make decisions related to their career choices. Some very interesting insights emerged out of the conversations which I wish to share in today’s article.

When you have choices, decisions become difficult: Imagine a situation where you have only one job possibility and there are no other options. Is there any difficulty? No. It is simply because more the choice one has higher the complexity of decision making. In today’s job market, for talented people opportunities are aplenty and that is what makes it tricky. Therefore, the key message is: if you are talented individual in great demand, you must know that career choices are going to be more difficult for you.

When you have multiple options, discretion is required: When you have more choices to choose from, then you must exercise greater caution and discretion. It is almost like going to a restaurant and looking at the menu. Among all that is available, you need to use thought to choose what suits you. One should not be confused or overwhelmed with the plenty that is available to pick from. A mature and balanced view helps in demonstrating the discretion in your decision.

Decision criteria needs to be broad based: Many people think that career choices are simple to make. If some other organisation offers me better salary and better designation, what is there to think? Simply take it! This is what many tend to think. But truth is that we look for many other parameters in our mind, though they may not be too apparent. In my interactions, most of the engineers mentioned that beyond money they are equally concerned about the learning opportunities, organisational culture and other non-monetary elements. When you consider many decision criteria, it becomes even more challenging!

What works for others, may not work for you: This is the most important aspect to consider. Several times, we see someone prospering well in career after they have taken up a specific course. Is it ok for me to follow the same path? Not necessarily! For example, someone got a breakthrough after doing SAP; but that doesn’t mean that I too will flourish by doing the SAP course. I may not have much aptitude towards computers. Therefore, while it is perfect to keep learning about newer career paths from others, one must not resort to blindly adopting to oneself.

Aspirations must commensurate with competence: There are some who have high aspirations but not getting any breakthrough. Such people often get frustrated instead of assessing themselves. They may even end up blaming others for their failure to attain their career goals. It may be that their competence is not good enough to take them towards their aspirations. First focus for them will be to look at self-development in line with their aspirations. Alternatively, they may have to make their aspirations more realistic if competence is far too challenging to improve.

Criteria may change over a time period: Criteria that a beginner uses may not be the same as those of a middle aged career professional. Also, one’s own willingness to take risks and experiment newer roles or challenges may diminish as personal responsibilities. Life priorities keep changing and based on that they expectations from careers also keep changing. It is therefore more pragmatic to recalibrate career choices from time to time.

Arrest the impulse and exercise thought: Emotions should not ride the career choices; particularly the negative emotions! You may get upset with your present boss or one of the perks has been removed by the organisation or your promotion has been denied during the recent cycle. Any such events cannot drive career decisions. It is humanly true to get upset during any of those episodes. However, one must refrain from making impulsive decisions during such highly charged –up environment. One should buy time to cool off and carefully utilise wide range of criteria and make a choice.

Others suggest, but you own your career: Finally, it is extremely important to realise that you are the master of your own career. Parents, friends, bosses and others may advice a lot. But ultimately you must assess your priorities, your competence and your aspirations and decide the best course of action!

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