Tips for Professionals on Making Smart Career Moves during your Working Life

Determining Whether you want to be a Big Fish in a Small Pond or Small Fish in a Big Pond

Whether you are a fresher or an aspiring professional, or you have established yourself in your career, or are beginning to find your feet in your job, there are some ways in which you can maximize your chances of moving ahead and avoid pitfalls that can take you down and leave you high and dry.

Indeed, smart career moves that are well thought out and planned as well as executed intelligently with due diligence can make the difference between success and failure in this uber-competitive world.

To start with, you need to determine whether you want to be a “Big Fish in a Small Pond” or a “Small Fish in a Big Pond”. In other words, you must decide whether you want to join a large company or a smaller one or indeed, a startup, depending on the stage of your career you are in, and your skills and abilities as well as past performance.

For instance, if you are a fresher, it makes sense to join a reputed firm and build up your resume with the brand equity and value that comes from working for big and established firms. This is the reason why many fresh graduates aspire to join firms that are in the Fortune 100 or Fortune 500 list and work for a few years and then, make the shift to other firms.

Mid Career Moves and First Job Decision

It follows from this that established professionals who feel that they are likely to be thwarted in promotions in big firms simply because there are too many of them who are aspiring for the same position decide to join smaller or medium-sized firms after a decade or so of experience.

Indeed, our experience in working with Fortune 100 firms has taught us that many fresh graduates would not mind putting in long hours and be dedicated and committed for five or more years in a big firm to build up their resumes.

Once, they have gained traction and accumulated skills and experience, invariably, they find that their growth prospects are minimal after they have reached the middle management tier. Thus, they then decide to seek their fortunes elsewhere since they can easily become senior managers in small firms and indeed, even executives in startups.

Fit Between Personality and Organizational DNA

Next, the decision as to which firm to join is as important as how much salary they pay. To explain, once the immediate monetary and financial security is in place, one has to find “the firm that suits one” meaning that at some point in your careers, you have to determine whether you “fit in” in a particular firm.

This decision has to be made carefully and after much due diligence since the organizational culture must “jell with” your own cultural and personal attributes.

For instance, many professionals like to work in professionally managed firms because of the freedom and flexibility that comes with working in such organizations in an autonomous manner since interference from family members of the holding family is nonexistent.

Indeed, this is especially the case with senior executives and middle managers in positions of power and responsibility as they find that working in professionally managed firms is good for their career growth.

On the other hand, there are those professionals for whom familiarity and closeness to the founders and the family members of the family-owned firms are a source of career progression. Thus, it depends on the fit between your personality and the organizational DNA (the term used to describe the core cultural attributes of organizations) that should be the factor in making such decisions.

The Glamour of Working for MNCs

Third, many professionals dream of working in MNCs or Multinational Corporations rather than domestically located firms due to the glamour and the chances for international travel as well as the brand image of that firm.

For instance, it is common to find many students in Asian universities who aspire to join MNCs for this reason. It is also common to see many students taking up Computer Science and IT (Information Technology) branches in college so that they can join software and technology firms and use them as a ladder to go abroad and possibly, settle there.

Often, Money is the Clincher

The fourth and perhaps the most important factor that must determine your career moves are the aspects of job security and compensation along with perks and benefits from specific firms.

For instance, the reason why many professionals join reputed firms is that they are guaranteed a minimum amount of compensation that is usually higher than the Industry Average in addition to having some sense of job security. In addition, many professionals stick to firms that give generous perks like paid vacations and paid education for their children.

Apart from this, in these recessionary times, it is very important to “stay alert” and “keep one’s ears to the ground” to the possibility of layoffs and hence, this is another factor that should be taken into account.

Conclusion: Employees Leave Managers and Not the Firms

Lastly, at whatever stage of your career you are in, it is worth remembering that research has found that employees leave managers instead of the firms meaning that apart from the macro factors that influence your decision, the microcosm of your working life wherein the people whom you interact with on an everyday basis often determine your job satisfaction and fulfillment at the workplace, is often the clincher for many professionals in making career moves. To conclude, it would be better if you can make a decision matrix of all the factors that make up your career and then, decide accordingly.


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Career Development