Career Paths: Taking the next step, and not settling

It may seem obvious that it is important to get to know a job before you accept it, but often there are various factors that can cloud our judgment when offered a job. There’s the glory of receiving an offer, the prestige of a company name, the unknown that comes with a new region, the excitement of an impending salary, the feeling of being challenged and successful, and the impending sense of independence.

On top of this, when people tell you that your next job does not have to be the “ideal” job, I beg to differ, slightly. In prior articles I have explained why your next job does not have to be your dream job, but it does have to be the ideal next step.

Every time you gain a new job or role, whether short or long term, permanent or temporary, this role is part of your story. It is a period of time in your life, a choice you make. It will determine the experience you gain, who you work with, and what skills you develop. It should help further yourself along a specific career path, align with your interests, and also make sense when, in a few years, you look back and explain why you made that career move.

A counterargument would be that this will not be your last job, so even something remotely more interesting may be an okay job to take. But before being rash, let’s remember the time and effort you will put into getting this next job and consider things carefully.

So, what it likely will boil down to is time; there is no real way to know how long it will take for you to receive an offer from your top job choice and life and expenses may get in the way of your ability to continue searching. So at some point you may choose a job that is less ideal for your career path. And that is okay! The aim is to make it the best choice possible. Knowing when to accept a less-than-perfect role is something only you can determine. It may be based, as I said, on your need to start getting paid, or rather on your gut feeling of when is right, best, and necessary for you to make the leap.

In order to get the best offer possible (i.e. your ideal next step), one must first shoot for the stars — those Tier A dream jobs — and then strategize to figure out what those Tier B interesting roles would be. Next, meet as many people as you can in both of those categories, from manager to analyst level. This will allow you understand the purpose and strategy of those teams as well as what the day to day job actually looks like.

Each role you take is an important part of your career journey, so although it may not be your dream job, at least you will learn what you don’t like (which is also important). Be careful, however, because you don’t want to be stuck doing this for an extended period of time if you don’t like it!

This is why it is my utmost belief that you should never settle for a job unless:

  1. It affords you another opportunity that makes it worth it for your personal goals or for your career track, and you are 100% sure of that goal (e.g. being in your dream industry but starting at the bottom, being afforded a way to travel, taking a job to be near your family, etc.).
  2. You have searched so long and do not have the means to continue searching without taking said opportunity.

Reach high and far. That way when you fall, you’re still well above where you started.

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Waking you up to remember that you can and should find a job you love.

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