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5 points to ponder when picking a job

In addition to the role, title, compensation and company brand, there are five criteria worth considering when evaluating a job. ​

Four of these are short and long term professional benefits while one goes beyond the profession. Benchmark your job options, including your current one on these to help pick the best one for yourself.

  • Does it test your current skills and ability?

  • Is it an avenue of learning and growth in professional skills and knowledge?

  • Are you being fairly compensated?

  • Is it an avenue to build a relevant professional network?

  • Does it present an opportunity to build social network.

Does it test your current skills and ability?

Pick a job where your current skills and abilities are stretched. If you are consistently successful, ask yourself if you are in the right job. Like an athlete, you want to play in a field where your skills are tested fully – with an equal chance of success or failure. Look for the toughest field you can play well in. An easy field (job) may give you frequent successes but will also make you flabby.

If you are scoring the most goals in recreation soccer, time to move on to the travel team.

Is it an avenue of learning and growth in professional skills and knowledge?

Work for companies which have a record of investing in being at the cutting edge of your trade. Also, look to work with a group which has equal or more proficient talent in your skill or profession.

The investments made your company and the peer / group interaction are excellent opportunities to learn newer skills and methods. Both of these help build you up to a higher level of capability and to take on more challenging roles and responsibilities in the future.

If you have the mettle, aim to play with those who are more accomplished. They will bring out your best game and teach you skills which will be an asset in the future.

Are you being fairly compensated?

Aim for the highest net return for your skills and professional contribution.

Then, decide how much investment you are getting from the job and company in building your professional skills. The net compensation to aim for equals the return on what you deliver today; minus the benefits in skill building / professional association what you gain from the job & organization.

Professional athletes devote months of effort (and lost income) to represent their countries in the Olympics while being paid nothing for it. They forsake financial earnings for the recognition of their peers, the adulation from their country and the opportunity to compete with and learn from the best in their trade. And if they make it to the top – the payback in endorsements can be significant.

This is also one reason why some of the best organizations can attract talent at lower wages. They compensate by providing the opportunity to work on the most current, with the best in the business, and for a brand which gives a boost to the professional and social standing to its employees.

Balance the immediate financial return with what you are gaining by way of learnings, recognition, and work challenge.

Is it an avenue to build a professional network?

The opportunity to build a professional network is a key upside of a job. In the short term these networks can help build knowledge, skills, and success in job outcomes. More importantly, it's a foundation for longer term career success and longevity. Your professional network is a source of new opportunities for career success and advancement.

A top 5 consulting company is known for the effort it makes to help find good roles for employees who want to take a break from the hectic travel associated with consulting assignments. The firm helps them tap the network of senior partners and client contacts to land quality roles with lesser need to be on the road consistently. The saying "it's about who you know" is well founded!

Does it present opportunities to build a social network?

Most will spend the longest (and also the most active) part of the day at work. While spending the time, you also have the opportunity to engage with colleagues who share common interests and values. While it's not the reason to go to work, this presents an opportunity to build social networks and often long lasting friendships. Especially in smaller or remote locations, your colleagues may be the most likely social network you are likely to have.

Those from families in the armed forces will relate to this. With the frequent re-locations and often to remote locations, they tend to build their social network with colleagues and these often lead to lifelong friendships.

In closing

Compensation, title, and comfort with the role are important aspects of a job and criteria when assessing alternative roles.

In addition to these, it is worth including other aspects like the challenge of the role, the learning offered, the opportunity to work with top notch peers, and the opportunity to build professional and social networks. Each of these enhances our professional and personal lives in the short term and also beyond the immediate job. Giving due consideration to them will ensure that we pick jobs and a work environment which stretches our capabilities and helps build strong foundations for ongoing success.

Keep swinging!

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