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Your Career Journey: Choosing a position

Introduction

Making decisions relating to your career can be one of the most nerve-wracking things you will do. This is especially true if you are in the exploration phase. So, if it is the first time you are entering into the workforce, this post is for you! We will consider some areas you need to look at as you are choosing a position.

“On an important decision one rarely has 100% of the information needed for a good decision no matter how much one spends or how long one waits. And, if one waits too long, he has a different problem and has to start all over. This is the terrible dilemma of the hesitant decision maker.”

Robert K. Greenleaf, The Servant as Leader
choosing a new position. one way or another way

Begin with the end in mind

Before you are start the process of choosing a position, clarify what it is that you want from a job. This may sound tedious. However, this exploratory phase can be very useful if you do it well.

Some questions to ask yourself might include:

  • What does the ideal employer look like?
    • Is change good, or do you prefer stability?
    • How long do you want to work for one employer?
    • What benefits are important to you?
    • Will your desired work-life balance be possible?
    • How much flexibility do you want?
  • What do you want from a job?
    • Do you prefer working in a team or on your own?
    • Is growth important or do you prefer cruising along?
    • do you prefer to work with people your own age?
    • How much autonomy do you want?
    • Are you looking for friends or colleagues?
  • Are you up for logistical issues?
    • How close do you want to be to work?
    • What transport arrangements can you make?
    • Do you want to work a 40- or 60-hour week?
    • Would you like to traveling a lot?

Once you have an idea of your ideal job, you can then compare your options with these requirements.

Will you fit?

One of the key things to consider when evaluating a job option, is considering whether you will fit. This is often an important part of the interviewing process. The employer is determining whether you will be a fit for them. But, you need to consider whether they will be a fit for you as well. The corporate culture could make or break your experience with an organisation. If you are not a good match, you will be frustrated and unhappy during your time there.

You can test the corporate culture by comparing it to your ideal job. There is no right or wrong answer, only a personal preference. So, some extra things to think about would be:

  • Is the environment formal or casual?
  • Is the office space open plan or are there cubicles?
  • Does the organisation give back to the community?
  • Are they big on social events?
  • Are there specific expectations relating to participation and involvement in projects?
  • Is there a mentoring or coaching program for new employees?
  • What does the employee turnover look like?

Responsibilities & rewards

Many people see the payment package as the critical factor in choosing a position. Although this view is not incorrect, it is important not to be short-sighted. There may be many reasons why it could be good to accept a lower-paying position.

Think about some of the following scenarios in which it may be a good choice regardless of the lower pay:

  • A smaller organisation has a lower-paying position available, but
    • You have a fast-track to promotion
    • There is an opportunity to get exposed to a broader range of responsibilities
    • There is more work-life balance and flexibility
    • It is a better culture fit
  • The position has a lower cash component, but includes other benefits such as:
    • Extra vacation days
    • Paid education programs
    • Opportunities for cross-border training or exposure

Further, you must remember that your rewards are linked to your responsibilities. The more responsibility you have in making key decisions, the higher your pay is likely to be. This then means that you will not be earning an executive salary on your first day of your first job!

Some factors that affect your pay include:

  • Years of experience
  • Education level
  • Historical performance reviews
  • Number of employees you manage
  • Professional certifications
  • Shifts worked (e.g. night shift has an extra allowance)
  • Safety of your working environment
  • Location
  • Industry
  • Market demand

Salary & benefits

Next, let us look at the different components of your payment package. Your package goes beyond your salary cash-component. It is important to look at all these benefits beside your salary. This is essential when you have a few offers.

Some of the more common benefits include:

  • Incentive bonus – extra pay check depending on your performance
  • 13th check – annual extra pay check equal to your monthly salary (usually paid in December, or in your birthday month)
  • Medical aid – employer may contribute to a certain point, or fully cover your medical aid
  • Provident fund – employer may contribute a % based on your salary, or match your contributions
  • Group insurance options – such as group life or disability cover
  • Extra vacation days
  • Extended maternity or paternity leave – paid or partially paid

Less common benefits include:

  • Free gym membership
  • Day-care options for kids
  • Tuition reimbursement programs
  • Savings programs – employer saves on your behalf
  • Share options
  • Overtime
  • Reduced cost for corporate clothing
  • Company car or fuel car
  • Travel allowance
  • Company phone, and / or company card (to entertain clients)

Most companies will provide a Total Cost to Company (TCC) that you can compare to other offers. It is important to know what it includes, and also to know which of these will actually be useful and valuable to you.

Yet, bear in mind that your cash component (after taxes), should still cover your monthly expenses. Don’t get so excited by the benefits that your take-home pay is actually too little after all!

Conclusion

In conclusion, it is clear that there are many things to consider when choosing a position. Remember, you do not have to accept the first offer that comes your way.

Do your homework. Compare the culture, your responsibilities, and the rewards of each offer.

You don’t have to do it alone! Chat to friends, family and mentors that can help you make this big decision.

Good luck!