Map your career path
In the quest to map your career path, facing difficult choices is inevitable. Economists use the term opportunity cost to denote that to gain something, something needs to be given up. We have to choose from limited alternatives and forgo others.
The concept is not limited to economics. It is all around us. If you choose chocolate ice cream, your opportunity cost is probably a vanilla scoop that you did not choose. In a nutshell, the opportunity cost is the value of the next best alternative.
This concept is especially helpful to understand the cost of decisions in planning your career path. As you move forward in your profession, you will be faced with many choices and your decisions will lead your way in your career.
But before you make these big life-changing decisions, you must weigh the opportunity cost of what you may be missing. So today I will talk to you about some factors you must pay special attention to while weighing your options as you map out your career path.
Earning salary vs. spending on education
Choosing between taking up a job or pursuing more training is the most common dilemma faced by many. Here you will not only let go of your salary but also incur the tuition fees. This choice is often faced by professionals pursuing an MBA.
In such dilemmas, the consideration is if this extra training will allow you to up your earnings by a margin well enough to cover up for the salary you let go off and beyond that puts you in a better professional place.
Money vs. experience
Sometimes you may be faced with choosing between a high-paying job with no growth prospect and a lower pay job with a larger scope for gaining experience. For example, working in a start-up can be fruitful for expanding your skillset and experience but may not pay you very high.
It is important to remember that while you map your career path, you also need to see how you will afford your necessities. If you can keep living off other sources of income or savings, gaining some extra experience should be the right choice for you.
Existing brand value vs. potential value in brand
This is a choice of taking risks between working for an established brand that is a sure-shot winner or taking a risk to work on a new project which you believe has the potential to grow and become successful.
In a new and upcoming project, you will get more chances to grow and learn while on the other hand, an established brand will prima facie enhance your resume.
Here the decision must depend on your existing resume. The questions to be asked are Are you just starting out and can you absorb the risk if the startup fails and begin again? Or are you in need of resume enhancement? Or do you have a resume and experience good enough to take on some risk?
Stability in the coming years vs. new possibilities
As you plan your career, you may be facing 2 paths, one of a stable job and the other of a risky job with new possibilities.
The cost of choosing a stable and secure job is the possibility of new opportunities. It comes down to your risk-taking intent. An entrepreneur can build an empire or face extreme losses and failure because there is little to no guarantee.
The question to ask is what do you value more? Will you be more comfortable in a secure but probably mundane job or do you wish to take a chance?
Responsibility of higher ranks
As you move up in the ranks in any organization, more than the workload, your responsibilities increase by large margins. You are held accountable for your subordinates and your scope of duties increases.
Here you want to ask yourself if you want this kind of role. While a higher rank comes with more stress it is also the promotion that keeps you motivated to work harder. Weigh between the value of the higher rank and the comfort of your current position in the job.
Climbing up the ladder vs. balanced life
Closely related to the responsibilities of a higher rank is the question of work-life balance that many face as they map out a career path.
With accountability and stress of more work on your plate, personal life often takes a backseat. The weigh-off is between what you value more, your career growth or your personal life.
Your true calling
While a new job or a position at work may seem very lucrative with all the opportunities and mammoth salary it has to offer, without a true passion for the work, chances are you will be worn out soon.
While taking a new turn in your career path, ask yourself where you wish to be on the long-term map of your professional life. This is also vice versa where you can opt for a career change because you may not be happy with your current position.
While these are general considerations that will help you to weigh your alternatives, in the end, choices are subjective and depend on the person making them. What may seem like an advantage for someone may be a disadvantage for you.
The value of the next best alternative for me in choosing a chocolate ice cream over vanilla is very little because I absolutely love chocolate. But that is me and my opportunity cost. What is it for you?
Frequently asked questions
1. How do I map my career path?
Here are the steps to map your career path:
- Step 1: Make a roadmap for yourself and where you wish to see yourself in some years.
- Step 2: Do thorough research of your industry and find all possible opportunities
- Step 3: Expand your knowledge and skillset in accordance with these opportunities.
- Step 4: Set small and achievable goals for the beginning
- Step 5: Start networking to become visible in your field. You can start with LinkedIn.
2. How do I map my next career move?
Here is an easy 5 step plan for your next career move
- Step 1: Picture your ideal day
- Step 2: List down things that make you happy about your work and how much and things that you dislike too
- Step 3: Map out how you want your next 5 years to be.
- Step 4: Now create a plan for the transition to achieve the goals and likes you listed in the above 4 steps
- Step 5: Follow through with your plan but remember to be flexible with the changes around you.
3. What are the challenges that you foresee in achieving your career choice?
- Loss of motivation
- Being unaware of your own potential
- Job insecurity and instability
- Concerns over finances and salary
- Fear of risks
4. How do I choose a career?
- Assess yourself
- Identify what you want and what you don't
- List out potential jobs on the basis of the aforementioned wants
- Research about different positions and qualifications required for them
- Look for adequate training options to enhance your skillset
5. What do you do if you have multiple job offers?
- Ensure that you have offers in writing
- Show enthusiasm for all offers and maintain a positive connotation in all communications
- Gather all information about each offer
- Ensure that the job you take up aligns with your career path
- Weigh your opportunity cost of taking up one offer and rejecting others
6. How do you evaluate multiple job offers?
- To evaluate any offer, you must know what you want and how the said offer can align with your goals and expectations. Other considerations are the company culture, package offered, and potential for growth in the future.