Evaluating Career Opportunities

It's strange how the term career opportunity is used in practice; since it can sometimes be used to describe both a big break in a career, or the last option someone might have at a company before they're terminated.

It's strange how the term career opportunity is used in practice; since it can sometimes be used to describe both a big break in a career, or the last option someone might have at a company before they're terminated.

Defining Career Opportunities

A good definition of "opportunity" might be something like:  a favorable or advantageous circumstance or combination of circumstances.  This is a very general definition, and can mean different things to different people.  What might be a career opportunity for one person might be seen as a setback for another.

Everyone's made poor decisions in the past.  No matter how smart someone might be, no matter how career savvy, they sometimes fall prey to their own shortcomings.  Here is a real life example of a career opportunity in management gone sour:

 "I was working for a subsidiary of a large company, and had just interviewed for a management job in another department.  This position was more of a lateral move for me, but I thought this would be a good opportunity to learn something new.  I was offered the position, and informed my current manager that I was thinking about taking the job.

Immediately, my manager had me in a sit down meeting with our vice president, and the two of them went to great lengths to explain my value to the organization.  Vanity got the best of me, and I respectfully declined the new opportunity.

Ironically, the subsidiary was eventually dismantled by my company.  The subsequent reorganization left me in a downsized job of lesser value.  The person who accepted the career opportunity that I declined has since moved on to an even better position in the company.  To make matters even worse, the vice president of that department is now the CEO of our company."

Recognizing Opportunities

It's important to recognize opportunities when they present themselves.  This person in the above example missed this opportunity because they were blinded by greed and vanity.  They should have realized the long-term career potential of the new job was far more important than the short-term satisfaction realized by staying in their old job.

So how is it possible to identify a real opportunity?  Answering these simple questions can help:

Work Passions

Did you ever have an assignment or a job that you really loved?  What were the things about that assignment that you were passionate about?  A career opportunity will be aligned with someone's work passions.

Work Talents

What assignments do you excel in?  If a job involves the type of work that someone is good at doing, their chance of success will be much higher.  There are many career aptitude tests available to help someone identify these talents.

Career Interests

Does this potential move help you to satisfy a career interest?  Does the new job involve a skill that would be great to add to your portfolio?

Career Goals

Does accepting this job move or position you closer to where you want to be in the long term?

Work / Life Balance

Does the opportunity provide more time to yourself, or does it take you further from family and friends?  Does it offer the mix of work and after-work life balance that you are seeking?  Many people think of work as a means to an end.  They work because it allows them to better enjoy after-work life.  They have successful careers and balanced lives; it is possible.

Finding Career Opportunities

Many people feel locked into their current jobs and career paths.  But the fact is that if they have the right tools, there are career opportunities all around.  The Internet is a prime example of how everyone is surrounded by opportunity.

Home Based Businesses

High speed connections allow people to not only work from home in existing jobs, but they also create opportunities for home-based businesses.  Take a careful look at the advertisements seen on the Internet; they are often extremely targeted.  Search engines such as Google have made it possible to target consumers with pinpoint accuracy.  The Internet offers anyone with experience selling a product the opportunity to create their own home-based business.

Some examples of these opportunities at work can be seen at Yahoo! Shopping.  They carry products from over 100,000 stores of all shapes and sizes.  Yahoo! even offers resources needed to start an ecommerce company using their small business portal.

The United States Small Business Administration is also a must-visit website for anyone thinking about starting a home-based business.  They offer online training courses, counseling, and business planning tools to help maximize the chance of success.

Work from Home

Finally, for anyone interested in a work from home career opportunity, we have several articles that can help with this topic.  This is different than the home-based opportunities just discussed which rely on the Internet.

Many of the work at home opportunities involve working for a larger company from the comforts of your home.  This can involve anything from stuffing envelopes to assembling products.

Anyone thinking about this type of career move should take a look at our work at home series of articles.  Unfortunately, not everyone is concerned about your career, so it's important to make sure you're getting involved with a company that will help you to make money, not lose it.

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