There are tons of career opportunities in tech, with new ones being added every day -which is awesome! However, it can be a bit overwhelming when making a decision about which path to choose: in terms of education and professionally. The same goes for those trying to make a career switch – how do you make that important decision?
I get a lot of questions regarding what a person should decide in these situations, but, unfortunately, I cannot answer that for anyone. This career decision needs to come from you because only you know what fulfills you and makes you happy. However, I can help you get closer to your answer by giving you my important decision framework. So, let’s get started!
Here’s my framework for making important decisions in life:
1. Think of what is important to you
What are you looking for in a workplace/industry? Reflect on those things, and make a list of them. Group them into categories if you identify any commonalities and/or patterns. If you’re feeling unsure, check out my free course on identifying your definition of success!
2. Do your research
Yes, I know you wanted to skip this step, and I wish there was a shortcut for doing research but there isn’t one, unfortunately!
If you’re choosing between two options, do research on both of them. What are the roles that you can do with those skills? Are there specific career growth opportunities or challenges the job would entail? What kinds of projects and teams you would be working with? Which companies would hire you and what would be your earning potential? Don’t forget you can always check Glass Door to see typical salaries.
Make sure you do this research thoroughly for every single option. Search the internet, social media and network. Reach out to people on LinkedIn and go to events, talk to them about their day to day life doing job X. Collect as much data as possible – make sure you don’t forget to take notes!
3. Analyse your findings
I’m a huge believer in following your intuition to make career decisions, but this step is purely rational. Have you seen how tech companies compare their products/pricing packages by listing features and providing more information about them side by side? Compare your options (let’s limit it to 4 wining ones) side by side. Use categories that are important to you – we’ve already created those in step 1.
At the bottom of every single column, list entry job requirements including any skills, experience, certifications and so on. You can also rate your current skills next to them.
4. Imagine yourself doing that job
Now we’re getting to the point where your intuition can start to shine. Why do I think it’s important? Because you’re not a robot and you want to make sure that you enjoy the career path you select for yourself! You will be spending on average 40 hours a week working in this field if successful. So, I think it’s important to make a career decision that feels right, interests and lights you up the most.
Imagine yourself working in that space, going through everyday activities and working on the projects that people you’ve spoken to work on. How does that feel? Does this opportunity excite you? What about it seems super interesting and what doesn’t? Journal to write your thoughts down and take your time imagining yourself in those positions.
5. Weigh out the pros and cons
Once you feel like you understand how it would feel to work in those fields – both in terms of the environment and the daily routines, as well as intellectually, it’s time to weigh all of the pro’s and con’s.
We’re making columns again, this time one table per opportunity. Feel free to eliminate any of the ones that don’t feel right at all at this point! First, write down all of the rational or objective pro’s and con’s. So, for example, how much you would be making as an entry-level candidate? And then all of the irrational or intuitive points: what felt right and what didn’t?
6. Make a decision
I think at this point you’ve already decided for yourself which option to go with – one of them should feel like a clear winner! So it’s time to make a career decision and commit to it. And if none of those opportunities does feel right, then maybe you chose the wrong options, to begin with? Keep on searching for potential opportunities until they feel right to you.
It is really important to select a path that fires you up. You’re going to be spending a very large proportion of your life working. You might as well be doing something that you love and that makes you feel like you can grow in many ways.
Good luck with your career decision making and let me know in the comments which option you chose in the end!