What is the job to be done of your job?

A few days ago three of us were talking back from the Devonshire Square market after having enjoyed the warm, sunny weather by eating our food outside. The topic of conversation had wandered but had eventually rested on careers. Specifically, we had hit upon the topic of how to decide on what one’s next position might be. How can one decide between staying at an existing job or leaving to something else? If the decision is to leave, then how does the decision between different positions on offer get made?

The question seems to be easy to answer by just listing out specific aspects one could be looking for: look for a higher salary, look for better working conditions, look for a place that has less overtime, take the one where you’ll learn the most. This hasn’t answered the question at all! It has actually made the question even harder to answer by obscuring the issue with too many details and, at the same time, not providing any way of deciding which of these specific aspects the decider cares about.

To get to the real answer, you have to first ask yourself a very different question: what are you hiring this new (or your existing) job to do for you?

Are you looking to have it pay off your debts? Move you to another country? Teach you a new skill? Allow you to have time to fish?

If you look at the job as a product to be bought or a service to be hired, what are you hoping to get out of it?

Once the job to be done is clear, then the choice between the different aspects above will be, if not easy, at least guided toward a goal.

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