Building a Personal Career Decision-Making Model

  By Dr. Frank Burtnett  |    Thursday February 26, 2016

Category: Certification, Education, Expert Advice, Recruiting

Teddy Roosevelt, a man of who wore many hats in his career, 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 relationships with 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 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 Decision-Making Model

Following is my career decision-making model that identifies the behaviors that effective decision-makers practice:

Know there is decision to be made – Failure will result in opportunity lost or allowing someone else to make it.

Prepare of a list of options – Does the decision involve choosing A or B or a much larger number of options? Identify all.

Identify the consequences associated each option – An analysis of the “pros and cons” of each option.

Eliminate unrealistic and nonviable options – Dream briefly and then come down to earth again.

Rank 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 to measure progress toward career goal. 

Yes…. There are nine stages in the Burtnett decision-making model. But don’t be frighten by any sense of complexity. You and your candidates apply this model every day. The impact of the decisions will vary in intensity, but the same process can lead to the decision-making mastery that all need to learn.


Necessary Ingredients

In order for the above recipe to be successful, decision-makers need four ingredients to be present:

Sense of self-awareness – The best decisions are made by individuals who have a strong sense of self.

Time – The worst decisions are made by those who are rushed and those that procrastinate.

Information – Accurate information is essential to determining and refining options. What the decision-maker doesn’t know can hurt. 

Support – Professional (competent recruiters) and personal (spouse, partner, family, mentors, colleagues, networks, etc.) that will facilitate the actions generated by decisions.

Career decisions present circumstance that demand the serious application of some type of systematic model. Consider the above model a framework that must 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 or career decision.

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