Ever faced a difficult decision between two great opportunities. Here’s a framework for helping you make that big decision.
During the initial years of my career I changed jobs multiple times as I wanted to explore a lot of different industries and companies. But I also suffered from what I like to call the “business administration syndrome”. I coined the phrase as I found myself, and many of my fellow classmates within the same line of study, being afraid of closing doors; like taking that job or going into this industry or alike would ruin other opportunities. Essentially, wanting to be a generalist and thus staying too long and becoming too much of an expert in a particular field was feared to limit later options.
Well, this resulted in my going into a few job interviews early on in my career to explore new opportunities. However, with a job offer in the hand the doubt about if I was making the right choice came knocking on my door. The decision to change jobs is difficult. I quickly realised that I needed to structure my decision beyond discussing it with friends and family, and pros and cons lists. So, I came up with a framework to represent the most important elements of choosing between jobs. It follows the principles of traditional decision making theory that relies heavily on weighting of parameters and swing weights. See e.g. Decision Analysis for Management Judgement by Goodwin & Wright for more details. I want to share this with you as it has helped me a lot and can easily be tailored, if needed, to fit your specific needs.
The framework revolves around four main parameters, each with 3-4 sub-parameters. See below:
|1. Appeal of the job||1.1 Tasks I would work with (incl. responsibility)|
|1.2 Functional area of work (interest)|
|1.3 Ability to have impact in position|
|1.4 Versatility in working tasks (learning new things)|
|2.1 Travel time involved|
|2.2 Place of work (transit time to and from work)|
|2.3 Team composition|
|2.4 Working hours (work/life balance)|
|3. Attractiveness of opportunities||3.1 Continued professional development|
|3.2 Prospect of the company (outlook for the company)|
|3.3 Working abroad opportunities|
|4. Compensation attractiveness||4.1 Base salary|
|4.2 Upside potential (bonus)|
|4.3 (non-pay out compensation)|
I applied the framework in 4 steps to evaluate between my current job and the new potential job.
- Assign weights of importance to the 4 overall parameters
- Assign weights of importance to each of the sub-parameters such that they sum to 100% within each of the 4 parameters
- Evaluate each job opportunity on each of the sub-parameters on a scale of 1-5 where 1 is the worst possible situation an 5 is the best imaginable situation
- Calculate overall score for each job
And presto – you have an indication of which job you prefer! Of course, this isn’t a fairy tale and thus it may not be that easy. However, the overall score and the process of evaluating all the different aspects of the job will help you get a clearer picture of what you really want. Sometimes it’s easier if somebody (or something) else makes the decision (the framework in this case) and then your gut feel usually kicks in and tells you if you like that decision or not.
Please find the framework neatly presented in an Excel file at this LINK. It guides you through the 4 steps outlined above.
I hope you’ll find this handy for the next time you consider changing job – or who knows – when you face multiple job offers coming out of the university.