Building a Personal Career and Job Decision-Making Model

  By Dr. Frank Burtnett  |    Sunday February 11, 2019

Category: Certification, Columns, Education, Expert Advice

Teddy Roosevelt, a man of who wore many career hats during his lifetime, is credited with saying; “In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing.” Search and staffing professionals have seen all of these behaviors in their observing the decision-making behaviors of candidates.

Career decision-making, like all choosing of importance, is the application of a set of behaviors or “connecting of the dots” that take the decision-maker one step toward her/his job change or career goal. In order to enjoy the product of the various decisions (i.e., right job, reasonable compensation, relocation, etc.), the candidate has to learn the process and the search and staffing professional may have to be the teacher.


A Career or Job Decision-Making Model

Following is the career decision-making model that I created for my book, Career Errors: Straight Talk About the Steps and Missteps of Career Development. I’ve found that the elements contained in this decision-making model also apply to the job changes that occur early, often and throughout the career development process. Basically, career and job decision-makers must:

  • Awareness of the decision to be made – Failure will result in lost opportunities or allowing someone else to make their decisions for them.
  • Prepare of a list of options – Does the decision simply involve choosing between A or B or a much larger number of options? Identify all.
  • Identify the consequences associated each option – A posting and then an analysis of the “pros and cons” or “plusses and minuses” of each option.
  • Eliminate unrealistic and nonviable options – Dream briefly and then return to earth again.
  • Rank order the remaining options – Prioritize options according personal preferences and greatest rewards.
  • Step back and contemplate – Take one last reflective look at the decision.
  • Implement the decision – Commit to, invest in and take action.
  • Evaluate the decision – Pause periodically and repeatedly to measure progress toward established career goal. 


Yes…. There are nine stages in the Burtnett decision-making model. But don’t be frighten by any sense of their complexity. You and your candidates apply this model every day---from establishing priorities for your daily calendar to determining what leisure activities you will engage in next weekend. The impact of decisions will vary in intensity, but the same process can lead to the decision-making mastery that everyone needs to learn and master.

Career and job decisions present circumstances that demand the serious application of some type of systematic model. Consider the above offering as a framework that will take into consideration the uniqueness of the decision-maker and nuances of the decision-making circumstances. Encourage candidates to develop and refine a personal decision-making model that is proactive and ready for application to their next important life, career or job decision.



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