Stop Making Bad Career Choices

To give some examples of what I mean by Bad Career Choices, think of when your gut instinct and your head have not been aligned in the decision making process. You wanted to leave a company because of one reason, but have gone with another company even though your head or your heart told you otherwise.

More Money

A controversial one that always sparks back lash. However, it’s a usual suspect when it comes to bad career choices. This is the scenario. One employer offers you training, a good work environment and progression prospects to improve your pay moving forward. The other company offers more money. It is a common to go with the one who offers you more money.

However, it is the justification of why to go with more money that I personally find short sighted. “Why do we go to work? To make money to pay the bills, right”? “My family will be better of because of it”. These sound reasonable and logical reasons for taking a job paying more money. But they fail to take into account the bigger picture. And to answer this consider two questions:

1 – Why are they paying you more money than the other job?

2 – Are you making this decision for today or for the future?

Why are they paying you more?

To answer this, consider the company angle, rather than your angle. Companies set budgets for hiring. The budget could be high for a few reasons, market rate for a few reasons or low for a few reasons.

Above Market Pay

It could be that they simply want to attract the best people they can find. Yet, if we dig a little deeper and keep asking why that could be for a good reason or a bad one.

They may be very well ran, have a great product or service, their customers cannot get enough of them and those customers are willing to pay a premium. Therefore, to keep that up they only want the best people.

On the other hand, that company may be struggling. They could have a poor product, service or reputation. Money is running out and they figure they’ll take one last roll of the dice to try to gamble their way out of a mess. If you take a job with a company like that you’re asking for stress, risky job security and poor support. Plus, if it goes belly up and you need a job elsewhere many good hiring managers might see it as you are someone who makes bad decisions.

Market Rate Pay

This is the average salary. Not great, Not Bad. Why are they paying Market Rate?

It could be that they are cost conscious, but well ran. The company may want to strike a fair balance between training and development costs against being able to pay a genuinely competitive salary.

On the other hand, it could be that they are not well ran enough to pay a high rate.

Low Pay

Low pay is never going to attract the best people. But it still could be a good choice. And again, ask yourself why are they paying low?

It could be they are badly ran, have no money and although they need people to do a job, just can’t afford to pay that well. Or perhaps the Managing Director might go on a holiday every three weeks, drive an Aston Martin and swan around with a £25,000 watch on their arm and that’s where the money is going.

On the flip side, it could be that they invest heavily into training and development. Some of the best trained people in the industry may be products of that company. They could genuinely make your career. Short term pain for long term gain.


When making a career choice the company name may have weight in the decision. Having Google on your CV is one thing, but having Bills Computer Inspections is another.

If you are thinking long term a gold standard name as a previous employer could give you great stock when looking for a new employer in future. “This person is ex Google. Wow”. For example. But if you just want bragging rights to your mates and then it could be a poor choice.

Simply because a company has a great brand it doesn’t mean it’s a good place to work. It could be a complete nightmare where you are miserable, but hey as long it impresses your pal’s right.

Quick Fix

A quick fix should be I have no job, I need a job and I need one now. It solves an urgent problem. However, it was never intended to be a career decision anyway so does it really count? After all, you’ll probably be looking again as soon as you start. Your expectations aren’t likely to be too much.

I’ll give it a go and see it how it pans out

Go down the betting shop, stick a £100 on a random horse and cross your fingers why don’t you. This is an idiotic career choice. Taking a quick fix is one thing, but if you are seriously approaching a career move like this, and people do, you are asking for problems.

How many people bump around job to job to job every few years never advancing themselves? Too many. Then they’ll blame everyone else, the company, other factors for why things haven’t gone to well. Take a look in the mirror first.

I hate my job so anything is better than this

Put your big boy or big girl pants on and get a grip. You have freedom to change job. Just do it on your terms rather than the employers. Those who can take a bit of sh** short term to buy themselves the time needed to find something right long term generally find things work out for them.

Sum Up on Bad Career Decisions

Making Bad Career Choices is easy. I’ve known intelligent rational and sensible people make lazy decisions when it comes to their career. The difference between making good career choices and bad one’s comes down to three factors.

1-Have a Career Plan. Where do you want to be in ten years? What type of position, company, earnings, duties, location etc do you want? Then work out what pieces of the puzzle you need to make that happen. You’d be surprised at how many people take a job without having ever taken a moment to think about 12 months’ time let alone ten years.

2-Do your Homework. Who is the company? What can they offer you? Where can they take you in your career? And to tell if you’ve done your homework well enough, you’ll know all the downsides of working for them also so you can weigh up the pro’s and con’s.

3-Be Decisive. If you know you want a job do what you need to do to interview with them quickly. The amount of people I get who start asking whether a company can interview on evenings or weekends still surprises me. I wouldn’t mind if it was Lionel Messi looking for a new club, but Dave the Service Engineer who needs training on Electrics probably isn’t going to get a Service Manager and an Operations Director to give up their weekend just to meet them. Get real. And if you decide your going to go, have some guts about you and get to it. Don’t be one of those sad cases who spends ten years moaning about their employer and does sod all about it.

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