Factors Influencing Career Decisions

  By Dr. Frank Burtnett  |    Tuesday July 26, 2017

Category: Certification, Education, Expert Advice, Recruiting

Decision-making represents an essential and continual part of the career development experience, one that influences a variety of outcomes and dictates how successful and satisfying the overall career experience will be for the individual. Given the importance of decision-making, it is necessary for search and staffing professionals to possess a reasonable understanding of how it will affect candidate behavior.

Consider this installment of The Career Mechanic a two-parter. This edition will focus somewhat on the past---the factors that are characteristically associated with how women and men choose their life’s work. Next month, the microscope will shift to the myriad factors that candidates will utilize when they wish to change employers or employment settings. 

Every candidate for employment who seeks your services and those offered by your firm have already made dozens of decisions that, like a road map or GPS system, have sent them along a path to where they currently find themselves. Whether their current position is one that has been accomplished individually or with the help of others, decisions are what got them to where they are currently. Addition decisions of varying consequences will move them forward.


Career Decision Factors and Their Influence

Consider how each of the following factors influenced you personally and you have a head start in understanding how the accountant, engineer, physician, scientist or individual occupying any other occupation before you go to their current station in the workplace. If their career development has progressed without trauma and difficulty, it is likely that the candidate seeking your services was influenced by the following:

•    Understanding of abilities and aptitudes – A strong understanding of personal abilities and aptitudes will point one toward a career where performance and productivity will not be an issue.

•    Meshing of career with personal characteristics and traits – Career performance often demands personal characteristics and traits that must be present to ensure maximum success.

•    Recognition of achievements and successes – People tend to build upon their past accomplishments and ease of those accomplishments.

•    Identification of interests, including likes and dislikes – Known as the gratification factor, individuals prefer gravitating to career that are comfortable with and enjoy performing.

•    Consideration of preferences and values and how career affords their acquisition – Opting for a career direction that results in personal, social, cultural and lifestyle considerations (including life-work balance) being fulfilled.

•    Relationship of occupation to career goals and objectives – The extent to which one’s choice of a career target will meet short, mid and long term aspirations.

Notable Exceptions

Don’t believe for one minute that all career choosers utilize all of these factors or do it exactly this way. Many place greater emphasis on only one or a couple of these factors and eventually are rewarded by discovering full career success and satisfaction 

Still others are influenced by external or peripheral factors. The daughter of engineer, the son of an educator, adolescents and young adults surrounded by a sense of career knowledge and exposure--- often make choices based on that familiarity. Include here also the individual who starts in specific occupation (i.e., nurse), only to pursue additional knowledge and broadened competencies and move into a different career within the field of health and medicine. 

Others have what I call a “career collision.” They find themselves passing through an educational or occupational intersection where a collision becomes inevitable---a good collision. Decisions made by this individual may not have resulted from the same level of planfulness that using the factors above demand, but the result is a person fully satisfied with their career position. Finally, there is that rare individual who was born into, grew into and eventually inherited their life work.


Individual Investment Essential to Decision-Making Success

In order to achieve full implementation, career decisions---or any decision for that matter---require a personal investment by the decision-maker. This investment or “buy in” becomes a critical element in whether the necessary commitment to succeed is made and energy to act is expended. Put another way, if I own the decision, I will work harder to see that it is realized.  It is easier to fail at decisions I didn’t make or ones that were made for me.

Finally, search and staffing professionals will often face this conundrum---many people can be in the right career and be working for the wrong employer or in the wrong environment. They made good decisions early and poor ones later.



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