There are many factors affecting how to choose your next career move, and what you prioritize changes over time.
One client prioritized location over all because he was part of a dual-career couple, and his wife had committed to a three-year residency and was not relocatable. Another client aspired to be a Chief Marketing Officer, so each of her career moves focused on adding a skill or expertise that she would need for the C-level job—people management, P&L responsibility, digital, etc. At one point, she had the range of skills but had no international exposure, so experience abroad became the priority. Yet another client took a detour from online companies into a brick and mortar business and felt he was losing his tech credibility, so moving back to tech and specifically a well-brand, fast growth start-up was a priority.
What about you? Deciding how you will decide what's next is the critical first step in achieving the next level in your career.
Here are 40 factors to consider in how to choose your next career move:
- Geography, part one—where are you living and working
- Geography, part two—what customer or market are you focused on
- People management
- Budget/ P&L management
- Scope of responsibility
- Career path available to you
- Promotion opportunities
- Learning opportunities
- Client exposure
- Cross-functional opportunities
- Variety of work
- Senior management
- Direct reports/ team
- Culture (emotional office environment)
- Physical office environment
- Dress code
- Company mission
- Company values
- Company brand name
- Company size
- Company growth prospects
- Base salary
- Equity, options, profit sharing
- Security of compensation
- Compensation growth
- Tuition benefits
- Retirement plan
- Health benefits
- Autonomy over your work
- Flexible hours
- Flexible location/work remotely
- Work/life balance
Most people prioritize a combination of many of these factors. When you think about how to choose your next career move, spend time getting clear about which factors are most important to you and what tradeoffs you're willing to make. Know which factors are absolute prerequisites.
A quick way to get started is to select your top half from the list above and then keep picking the top half from each subsequent list till you can cut no longer. The factors you are left with are your most important factors in how to choose your next career move.
Finally, know how you will define and measure the most important factors—e.g., what bonus potential and structure matters to you, what flexibility do you want.
Caroline is a career columnist for Forbes.com, Money.com, and Time.com and formerly wrote for CNBC, and Portfolio. She is the author of 3 books: “Jump Ship: 10 Steps To Starting A New Career” (2015, Forbes), “Six Steps To Job Search Success” (2011, Flat World Knowledge), and “How the Fierce Handle Fear: Secrets to Succeeding in Challenging Times” (2010, Two Harbors Press). She teaches Professional Development and Negotiation courses at Columbia University and received a grant from the Jones New York Empowerment Fund for her work with the mid-career professional. A classically trained pianist at Juilliard and Manhattan School of Music, Caroline stays active in the arts, performing stand-up comedy.