You’ve worked hard and are nearing the end of your job search. Maybe you’ve even received a few offers. But how do you choose your next job? This question can be even more confusing when you’re debating staying in your current role. In this article, I want to share the simple framework I used to help make the right decision.
Link to Worksheet (google sheet) here. You can make a copy to follow along with the process and fill out your own worksheet. Once you make a copy, I recommend that you delete all of the data (except the headers and total score values) in columns C through H.
Choosing What You Value In Your Work
First, under the ‘Categories’ column, I filled out the different categories that I thought were important to my enjoyment and fulfillment at work. You can see the categories I chose below, but others might choose differently. For example, I added ‘Work Life Balance’ and ‘Flexibility’ as two different categories, while others might lump these two together. If you need more or less room, you’re welcome to add or delete rows, this shouldn’t screw up the calculations.
Next, in the ‘points’ column I allocated points to each of the categories depending on how important each of the categories were relative to one another. I did my point system out of 100 but you can choose a different total if you wish, the worksheet will work for any number of points. For example, I gave entrepreneurship the highest number of points because that’s the most important factor in what I’m looking for in my next role. I also rated comp, career path, and relationships very highly. I gave mission very few points, because at this point in my career I’m more worried about establishing myself than giving back. For others, this could be very different, and that’s what’s great about the worksheet: it’s fully customizable for your specific set of values and what you want out of your next opportunity. I had to do several passes to get my points to add up to exactly 100, and had to make some tough choices and trade-offs, but the end result was a more honest assessment of what my priorities are and what matters to me as I choose my next job.
Comparing Your Opportunities
Now that you have the first two columns filled out, the next step is to fill out how your opportunities align with the different categories you’ve created in column B. It’s important that you now hide column C, and the ‘Total’ row so that you’re not influenced by them. Once you hide these columns and the Total row your worksheet should look like this:
Now, replace the placeholders (Job A, etc.) with the current opportunities you’re considering and going job by job, determine how much each opportunity will allow you to maximize the different categories on a 10 point scale. For example, if my current job offers me the best work life balance, I’d put a 10 in that cell. This part might be tricky as you probably don’t have all of the information for each opportunity, particularly if you’ve only gone through an interview or two. However, this exercise is also a good forcing function to ask follow up questions. Maybe you forgot to ask one of your potential employers about work from home, or vacation time. This exercise will help make sure you have as much information about your next role as possible. In the end, there may still be blind spots where you’ll have to make an educated guess. Go with your gut– a large part of this exercise is using your intuition.
Check Your Ratings One More Time
After you have filled out how well each potential role performs against each category, you should do one final sweep to make sure that the ratings make sense – you should go category by category and make sure that the relative ratings of the opportunities compared against each other line up. Maybe you realize that Job A and Job B have the same work life balance, when you accidentally rated them very differently before. This will help ensure your ratings are as accurate as possible. It will also help you understand what trade-offs you’ll be making when considering the different jobs. Maybe your current role offers great flexibility with a weaker career path, while another job offers a great career path with less flexibility. These trade-offs are important to consider when choosing your next job. When you’re done with this step, your sheet should look something like this:
Checking Your Results
Once you have finished looking over your ratings for each opportunity, it’s time to see your results! Unhide column C and the Total row to see how well your roles scored:
From my example, you can see that while Job A didn’t have noticeably higher ratings than the other jobs, it peaked in the right categories: entrepreneurship, career path, and comp. That’s why it’s rated the highest out of the other opportunities. At this point, I heavily advise against editing either the point distribution or the ratings across the roles, but it can be a useful exercise to modify these to understand how that impacts your decision making.
Reflecting on the Exercise
Hopefully the role that scored the highest during this exercise is the role you were already leaning towards. After all, according to this exercise, the highest scoring role is the role that best embodies the values you care most about in your work. But maybe this exercise threw you for a loop and gave a role you that hadn’t been at the top of your list the best score. Now you have the opportunity to reflect on why that happened. Maybe work life balance is more important to you than you thought, or maybe when you compared one role against your other opportunities, you found out that it didn’t have as great of a mission.
Whatever you uncover during this exercise, I hope that it’s provided you with a better understanding of what you value in your work, and a clearer picture of what you want to prioritize when you choose your next job.