How To Choose Your Next Career Move: 40 Factors To Consider

By Caroline Ceniza-Levine '93BC of the Columbia Career Coaches Network
This article originally appeared on 

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:

  1. Industry
  2. Function
  3. Geography, part one—where are you living and working
  4. Geography, part two—what customer or market are you focused on
  5. Title
  6. People management
  7. Budget/ P&L management
  8. Scope of responsibility
  9. Career path available to you
  10. Promotion opportunities
  11. Learning opportunities
  12. Client exposure
  13. Cross-functional opportunities
  14. Variety of work
  15. Travel
  16. Boss
  17. Colleagues
  18. Senior management
  19. Direct reports/ team
  20. Culture (emotional office environment)
  21. Physical office environment
  22. Dress code
  23. Company mission
  24. Company values
  25. Company brand name
  26. Company size
  27. Company growth prospects
  28. Base salary
  29. Bonus
  30. Equity, options, profit sharing
  31. Security of compensation
  32. Compensation growth
  33. Perks
  34. Tuition benefits
  35. Retirement plan
  36. Health benefits
  37. Autonomy over your work
  38. Flexible hours
  39. Flexible location/work remotely
  40. 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,, and 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.

Learn more about the Columbia Career Coaches Network.

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