With employers increasingly hiring more part-time workers and fewer full-time staffers, many in the workforce are considering the viability of part-time employment. Beyond the obvious income ramifications, there are hosts of advantages and disadvantages to consider when determining if the part-time employment model works for you.
Working part-time is ideal for family-oriented individuals – especially those who value the opportunity to pick up their young children from school.
Part-time workers enjoy increased free time in which to pursue extracurricular activities.
Not only can part-timers save on gas and car maintenance costs, but they may also be able to shave dollars from their monthly auto insurance premiums.
More Free Time to Pursue Other Projects and Activities
Arguably the biggest advantage of working part-time is the increased free time with which to pursue extracurricular activities. For those lacking the requisite academic credentials for their dream job, a part-time position may serve as a stepping stone that affords the flexibility to obtain the certification needed find roles in their desired profession.
Others may use part-time jobs to climb the ladder within an existing field. For example, an individual with a social work degree can obtain part-time entry-level work that lets them simultaneously earn the graduate degree needed to land a more lucrative mental health job.
Part-time jobs also appeal to those nurturing special projects, such as writing, civic outreach, and artistic endeavors. Such pursuits offer immense personal fulfillment, even if they don’t bring in large paychecks.
Opening Doors to New Job Opportunities
When there are no full-time positions available within a given company, workers may accept part-time employment to position themselves as the obvious candidate when a coveted full-time slot becomes available. A part-time job can also help individuals gain experience and training in fields unfamiliar to them.
After all, an employer who may be reluctant to hire an inexperienced person on a full-time basis, may be inclined to hire an eager candidate on a part-time basis if they express an enthusiastic desire to learn the trade.
Opportunity to Earn More Money
Although it may sound counter-intuitive, working part-time can sometimes enable an individual to make more money – especially if they are capable of balancing more than one job. For example, a person who pairs a 30 hour-per-week gig with another 20 hour-per-week gig may pull in a greater combined income than a single full-time position would provide. Furthermore, given that many full-time salaried positions demand 50- to 60-hour workweeks, this individual may still end up working fewer total hours.
Reduced Stress Levels and Improved Health
Studies show that full-time workers tend to feel worn out, due to insufficient time needed to exercise, enjoy the sunny outdoors, and generally commit to a healthy lifestyle.12 Contrarily, part-time workers have more time to hit the gym more often and get a better night’s sleep. Part-time employment also allows for more efficient management of daily tasks like grocery shopping, doing the laundry, and completing other household chores, ultimately resulting in more order at home.
«Paradoxically, voluntary part-time workers often experience decreased financial stress, because they conform spending to align with their income.3 This behavior is antithetical to the phenomenon known as lifestyle inflation, where one’s expenses actually expand with increased income. In other words: those capable of adjusting to a slightly lower standard of living often discover that working fewer hours is favorable to the demands of working full time.
The Importance of Family
Working part-time is ideal for family-oriented individuals – especially those who value the opportunity to pick up their children from school. Furthermore, part-timers may save on day care expenses, which may exceed the extra money earned by working full-time.
Although a certain income level is necessary to provide for one’s family, those who earn just enough to pay for essential living expenses, while sacrificing luxury goods, may find short-term work to be an unacceptable trade-off.
Saving Money on Transportation Costs
One possible situational advantage to part-time work lies in the area of transportation costs. Case in point: an individual who finds part-time work near their home may save more on transportation expenses than those who commute an hour or more daily to a full-time job. Not only can part-timers save on gas and car maintenance costs, but they may also shave dollars from their monthly auto insurance premiums, which are often mileage-dependent.
Searching for a new job can be stressful. From searching for jobs you are interested in and qualified for, and writing countless cover letters, to preparing for an interview with an intimidating manager, the entire process of acquiring a job can be exhausting and time-consuming.
To many, job-searching can feel like a part-time job that you have to manage on top of your current job, course work or family obligations. The worst part? You could spend all this time perfecting an application and then never hear anything back.
Although no one is immune to rejection or ghosting, there are things you can do to make your chances of scoring an interview and receiving a job offer much higher.
Here is everything you need to know for each stage of the job searching process.
Navigating the digital application process
Include keywords from job posting and active verbs in your resume
Personalize your cover letter – talk about your accomplishments and highlight your understanding of the company
Filters on sites like Indeed and LinkedIn can help add efficiency to your job search – and help you reallocate time to other areas
Ensure a professional background and strong internet connection during interview
Come to the interview with questions
How do I stand out on my resume?
Writing a resume that shows off your skills and qualifications in a concise manner is its own art form that often takes multiple drafts to nail. Here are some of the most important resume tips you should follow:
Include keywords – When you are searching for jobs online, note the keywords the job listing includes in their requirements section. Use those words throughout your resume so that you stand out quickly as being a qualified candidate.
Update your resume for different jobs – A resume is not one-size-fits-all. When you are applying for a job, make sure your resume best represents your qualifications for that particular job. You might want to change the order of your sections, use different wording to highlight a different skill or even swap out information for more relevant past experiences. If you are applying for a few different job industries, you may want to create a separate resume for each industry. Then, build off whatever resume is most relevant for the current job you are applying for.
Use active verbs – Start each sentence of your resume with a verb that demonstrates your action best. For instance, instead of saying “worked as a mentor,” say “mentored” at the beginning of your sentence. Verbs like “create, lead, initiate, produce, organize, orchestrate and teach” are good examples of active verbs.
Follow standard formatting guidelines – Your resume should be no more than a page and easy to read. Additionally, each section should be in chronological order with your most recent experience at the top of the section. Put your most important sections at the top. Common sections include:
If you are in college or high school you may include relevant coursework, internships and academic achievements.
What should I say in my cover letter?
Although not always, most jobs also require you to write a cover letter. Keep these tips in mind when you are writing your letters:
Don’t be afraid to brag about yourself – Your cover letter is the time to dive deeper into the main ways your skills and experience would benefit the company. Give anecdotal examples of your unique abilities and always tie these examples back to how they would specifically serve the company you are applying to.
Show your understanding of the company – Although your main focus of a cover letter is to showcase your qualifications, also make sure you explain why you want to work specifically for that company. In the first paragraph, provide a sentence or two explaining what you think the company does better than anyone else. Do your research here! A deep level of understanding about the company can really help you distinguish yourself.
Don’t submit a generic cover letter – Your first and last paragraphs should be almost entirely personalized to a specific company. In the middle paragraphs, you can recycle examples of your qualifications and experiences. Just make sure your examples are relevant to the position you are applying for. A helpful tip is every time you write a new section about your qualifications, add the generic parts of the paragraph (everything except what is tailored to a specific company) into a separate document so that you have all of your examples in one place, making it easy to pull from for future cover letters.
Address the letter to a specific person, if you can – To make your cover letter more personal and show you did your research, try to find out who reads the applications and address it to that person. Often the company will tell you how to address the letter in the job posting, so make sure you don’t miss that. If you can’t find a person to address the letter to, say “To whom it may concern.”
Follow standard formatting guidelines – Just like your resume, you will want to keep your cover letter under one page. Cover letters are typically three to five paragraphs, depending on the length of each paragraph. Your cover letter should take a business-like tone and should be written in complete sentences with no slang, emoticons or acronyms.
How do I find jobs?
Look for jobs on career websites – The best way to find jobs is to search for jobs on career websites. The best websites include:
Indeed: For finding the most number of jobs listed
LinkedIn: For finding jobs where you have connections and for providing helpful job filters
Use the filter feature: You can’t possibly sort through all jobs listed. In order to make your search as efficient as possible, include as many filters as you can. Some of the best ones to use, if available, include location, experience level and job type (internship, part-time, full-time). If you don’t have a keyword for a job title, you may also want to use the industry, job type and job function filters.
Network – A major aspect of the job searching process, and arguably the most important aspect, is networking. It is essential that you reach out to people with experiences you are hoping to gain and to people who are working at the companies you want to apply for. The best place to start is to apply to companies that contain employees you know or who went to your college. Before applying for the job, reach out to those contacts and ask to chat briefly on the phone about their experience working for the company and any advice they might have. Reaching out to people in your social circle and alumni is useful because they are more likely to respond than total strangers. Not only could these contacts help give you a sense of what to say in your cover letter or how to stand out on your resume, but they may even put you in touch with the recruiters or push your resume to the top of the list. That can make all the difference. The best way to find contacts is through LinkedIn. However, your friends, family and college career center may also have a list of contacts to reach out to as well. One of the greatest values of college is the network you inherit. Use it!
How should I prepare for my interview?
Zoom interviews have become an increasingly common part of the job searching process. With the coronavirus pandemic, Zoom interviews are practically guaranteed now. Although the interview itself is no different online as it is in-person, there are some additional elements you should keep in mind.
Here’s how to have a successful Zoom interview:
Choose a professional background – Be cognizant of what is in the background during your Zoom call. You will want to avoid any distracting images or movement in the background. This means keeping your background as generic as possible. Additionally, make sure that any part of the room that appears on your screen is tidy and organized. You don’t want your interviewer to be distracted by your unmade bed or by clothes on the ground!
Limit background noises – Although construction and outside noises are out of your control, try to prevent as many background noises as you can. It is often helpful to warn the people around you that you will be in an interview and to silence your cellphone and turn off all notifications on your computer.
Charge your computer – The last thing you want is to be in the middle of an interview and your computer dies on you. Have your charger plugged into your computer during the interview, if possible.
Find a good internet connection – In order to avoid any glitching or freezing during your Zoom call, make sure you have a strong internet connection. You will want anywhere between 225 to 670 Kbps for a Zoom call. If your internet plan has data caps, be aware that an hour-long Zoom call will use 810 to 2.4 GB of data.
General interview tips
Regardless of whether you are meeting in-person or over a Zoom call, you will want to keep in mind the following tips:
Be professional – This includes wearing professional attire, using appropriate body language, smiling and arriving on time to the interview.
Prepare your answers ahead of time – Not only should you prepare your answers to common interview questions, but you should also do some research and find out what kind of questions you might expect from this specific company. Glassdoor is a good place to look for information on other people’s interview experience at that company and to learn what questions they were asked. Go through those questions and make sure you have an answer. Another helpful tip is to come up with a couple of anecdotes that best highlight your strengths and qualifications and could be applied to a number of questions.
Come with questions – At the end of the interview, you will be asked if you have any questions. This is the time to learn more about the company and what your role might look like. The interview process is not only a time for the company to evaluate you but also for you to evaluate the company and decide if it’s a good fit.
Send a follow-up email – Send a thank you email no more than 48 hours after your interview. Write in complete sentences and speak in a business-like manner. However, try to keep the email brief as someone may not read the email at all if it’s too long. To help you write a meaningful follow-up email, take notes directly after your interview so you remember what you talked about. Refer to those notes when writing your thank you email so it is personalized. Make sure to send a separate and unique email to each person who interviewed you.
With these tips, you should be able to score a job much more efficiently. It’s a lot of work but these extra steps really can make all the difference. Good luck!
Get more details on what happens to your resume after you click apply: https://go.indeed.com/what-happens-af… Learn more about what you should expect at every stage of the hiring process: https://www.indeed.com/career-advice/… When you’re applying for jobs online, waiting to hear back can be tough. It’s easy to think that nothing is happening to your application or that there’s nothing you can do. However, after you click “Apply,” your application is analyzed thoroughly by software and multiple people.
It’s helpful to understand what happens behind the curtain and steps you can take to advance your job search during this time. In this video, we explain the online hiring process. You’ll learn how keyword technology impacts hiring, what recruiters look for, what it takes to get to the interview, and tips for what to do while you wait. Here are some important takeaways about what happens to your online application after you hit ‘submit’, plus a few tips to ease your stress during this process.
1. Employers use software to scan your application for qualifications and keywords to sort through the initial candidate pool. Make sure your resume properly highlights your professional experience: https://go.indeed.com/listing-experie… 2. The recruiter will review the software’s selections, looking for more in-depth information like quality of education and the relevance of your skills. The recruiter will sort applications by those that would be the best fit and share those selections with the hiring manager. 3. The hiring manager will review the selected applications and make a short list of candidates for the recruiter to schedule initial interviews with. Keep in mind that this step can take a while. 4. While not hearing back right away can be frustrating, be sure to use this waiting time wisely! This is a great opportunity to apply for more jobs, check in with your references, create or update your portfolio, and practice for your interview. 5. Send a follow up email to the hiring manager or the HR department 2 weeks after you submit your application. Check out this guide for tips and examples on how to follow up: https://go.indeed.com/application-fol… Search for your next job: https://go.indeed.com/indeed_from_onl… Indeed is the world’s #1 job site, with over 250 million unique visitors* every month from over 60 different countries. We provide free access to search and apply for jobs, post your resume, research companies, and compare salaries. Every day, we connect millions of people to new opportunities. On our YouTube channel, you’ll find tips and personal stories to help you take the next step in your job search. Find free** job search services online and in-person: https://www.indeed.com/job-market *Google Analytics, Unique Visitors, September 2018 **Terms, conditions and quality standards apply. #onlinejobapplication#jobapplication#applicationprocess
There’s a reskilling revolution happening. The COVID-19 pandemic of 2020 has spurred the evolution of how business is done. Whether positioning a new brand or as an authority in the marketplace it’s critical to realize there is a new awareness of the skillsets required by both staff and clients.
Businesses large and small are rethinking the requirements of employees as well as the technology necessary to deliver products and services to clients. This awareness is driving entrepreneurs in the technology and training industries to position themselves to win by offering courses specific to those skills.
If you are a thought leader looking to support your clients through this upheaval, you are most likely considering how your expertise (content) can lend itself to the mass desire for reskilling. An effective way to do that is to ensure you position your expertise as learning programs that are developed through the lens of Edge Learning. Edge Learning is the continuous process of developing the peripheral skills that have the most impact on a person’s ability to achieve a successful and fulfilled life. Edge Learning is not about memorizing facts, technical skills, or understanding how to effectively use the tools of business. Instead, it seeks to develop a person’s soft skills
Let’s use workers in the field of accounting as an example. Every well-run business needs qualified employees in their accounting department. These are people who have successfully taken courses of instruction in accounting practices. This is a very specific and important skillset. When multiple candidates are considered for hire with similar training and experience, it is their peripheral or edge skills that differentiate them.
Those peripheral skills include the candidate’s level of confidence, their personality, the type and level of etiquette they demonstrate during the interview process and their communication skills—among others. In essence, what differentiates them is how they present themselves. Beyond the question of whether the candidates have the necessary education for the role is how well they work and if they will be a good fit with the rest of the team. The same hiring considerations apply for every role from those on the manufacturing line all the way up to the CEO. It’s their Edge skills that make the difference. And educators who can deliver skilled training in those areas, in an effective manner, are in high demand. Edge Learning is an essential component of the Reskilling Revolution!
Edge Learners know that confidence will make all the difference in the type and quality of work that comes their way. The world is craving confidence after all the recent uncertainty. That same Strada Education Network study referenced above reports 64% of Americans are feeling concerned, 50% are feeling cautious, and 51% are worried. Confidence has always been key to success, but it’s more important than ever in a post-COVID-19 landscape.
This is not surprising given the current state of the employment market. Though the unemployment rate has since dropped slightly, the employment landscape has permanently and undeniably shifted since April, when a staggering 22 million Americans found themselves unemployed. Given the significant disruption in the workforce, it is not surprising to find that many are thinking about how a career change fits into their post-pandemic plans.
Edge skills that are readily transferable are most desirable by workers considering a change of careers. In volatile markets, it is feasible that workers can expect to work through multiple opportunities before landing positions that best suit them. On the employer side, it has become painfully obvious that HR departments are expected to hire for multiple iterations of teams over the years. It is rare that workers and employers form long-term partnerships in today’s ever-evolving business landscape.https://tpc.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html
Training content developers need to be aware of not only the latest formats for delivering training but the multitude of avenues for distribution. With the increased development of technological resources, various users of content have their own specifications or requirements for delivery styles and formats. On top of that is the importance of keeping content relevant by analyzing it against the current marketplace needs and having a system for updating it.
It is important to carefully evaluate your thought leadership and the creation of your professional development programs to ensure they meet the needs of the current climate. Edge Learners know that the quality of expertise they receive will make a difference in how quickly they are able to create new opportunities. Learning experiences must be engaging and providing amazing outcomes. They must be delivered in multiple formats to meet the various learning styles of those who will take the courses.
Content created for Edge Learners must meet specific criteria to gain traction and succeed in the coming years. Those deeply involved in the reskilling revolution are bound to be cautious in their evaluations of various training programs. They want solid results as quickly as possible and will denounce any content or training programs that simply don’t deliver.
There are four red flags to avoid when attracting Edge Learners:
The course does not promise a specific result. Instead, it makes vague promises about what the course might do for learners. Be very specific in the goal for each course and design it accordingly. Explore your industry vertical to see if your course qualifies for continuing education credits or some other industry-specific certification.
The course is too broad. Content developers fall into the trap of trying to be everything to everyone. The result is that the course offers very little, to very few. Consider where consultation fits into your course development process. How much research has been done into the specific needs of your ideal clients? Were you already committed to a topic without first listening to what people wanted and said they need? If you already have an audience, that audience knows, likes and trusts you for a reason. Allow them to guide your course development to ensure it meets the specific needs of future prospective learners through surveys and focus groups. When you ask the right questions, your clients will tell you exactly what they want to own.
The course is not implementable. If the course doesn’t provide tactics, strategies or a process for learners to apply, then there is no opportunity for them to put into practice the skills they’ve acquired—and generate tangible results.
The course does not offer follow-up by the thought leader. Thought leaders need to be accountable for the content they create. Think about the overall plumbing of your thought leadership business. How are you best optimizing your connection to your audience and leveraging the technology at your disposal to make connecting with that audience easier? Your course is not a stand-alone – your website, your sales page, your newsletter, your social media, your learning site platforms, all need to work collectively to provide your clients with a holistic product they can trust.
Jonathan Robb, Associate Vice President of Customer Experience & Engagement at NorQuest College is responsible to evaluate content specific to post-secondary institutions. He indicated that his considerations include not only the above red flags but that the skillsets being offered are in high demand both currently and into the future by industry and businesses.
The reskilling revolution is at hand. The enhancement of soft skills is what occurs through real-world experiences and mentoring from leading experts and entrepreneurs. When new skill development is required, learners first turn to those who have been where they want to go. They value the experience and expertise of others.
The time to evaluate your content and training programs as to their delivery of Edge Learning skills in demand on both sides of the equation of business: business owners desirous of enhancing the skills of employees and workers wanting or needing to differentiate themselves in the marketplace. Use these strategies to imbue your thought leadership programs with Edge Learning skills and strengthen your impact on this everchanging market.
or make 4 interest-free payments of $64.75 AUD fortnightly with More info Colour
CAPRICORN, The Gold Zodiac Necklace features a textured medallion, individually hand carved and set with emerald connecting Capricorn with its ruling element, EARTH.
ELEMENT – EARTH | Capricorn is a cardinal Earth sign. The Earth Element is pragmatic, resourceful and patient. Your cardinal quality makes you a born leader. A high-achiever, encouraging, loyal and a great listener, your mission is to master everything you set your mind to and make the world a better place.EMERALD | The stone of inspiration, wisdom and patience. Emerald keeps friendships and relationships in balance. It opens the heart chakra to love, compassion, forgiveness and trust. It develops courage and attracts prosperity
Everyone says it’s important to find a job you’re good at, but no-one tells you how to do so.The standard advice is to think about it for weeks and weeks until you “discover your talent”. To help, career advisers give you quizzes about your interests and preferences. Others recommend you go on a gap yah, reflect deeply, imagine different options, and try to figure out what truly motivates you…then chunder everywhere.
But as we saw in an earlier article, becoming really good at most things takes decades of practice. So to a large degree your abilities are built rather than “discovered”. Darwin, Lincoln, JK Rowling and Oprah all failed early in their career, then went on to completely dominate their fields. Albert Einstein’s 1895 schoolmaster’s report reads, “He will never amount to anything.”
Asking “what am I good at?” needlessly narrows your options. It’s better to ask: “what could I become good at?”
That aside, the bigger problem is that these methods don’t work. Plenty of research shows that it’s really hard to predict what you’ll be good at ahead of time, especially just by “going with your gut”, and it turns out career tests don’t work either.
Instead, the best way to find the right career for you is to go investigate – learn about and try out your options, looking outwards rather than inwards. Here we’ll explain why and how.
Your degree of personal fit in a job depends on your chances of excelling in the job, if you work at it. Personal fit is even more important than most people think, because it increases your impact, job satisfaction and career capital.
Research shows that it’s really hard to work out what you’re going to be good at ahead of time, especially through self-reflection.
Instead, go investigate. After an initial cut-down of your options, learn more and then try them out.
Minimise the costs of trying out your options by doing cheap tests first (usually start by speaking to people), then trying your options in the best order (e.g. business jobs before non-profit jobs).
Keep adapting your plan over time. Think like a scientist investigating a hypothesis.
Being good at your job is more important than you think
Everyone agrees that it’s important to find a job you’re good at. But we think it’s even more important than most people think, especially if you care about social impact.
First, the most successful people in a field account for a disproportionately large fraction of the impact. A landmark study of expert performers found that:1
A small percentage of the workers in any given domain is responsible for the bulk of the work. Generally, the top 10% of the most prolific elite can be credited with around 50% of all contributions, whereas the bottom 50% of the least productive workers can claim only 15% of the total work, and the most productive contributor is usually about 100 times more prolific than the least.
So, if you were to plot degree of success on a graph, it would look like this:
It’s the same spiked shape as the graphs we’ve seen several times before in this guide.
In the article on high impact jobs, we saw this in action with areas like research and advocacy. In research, for instance, the top 0.1% of papers receive 1,000 times more citations than the median.
These are areas where the outcomes are particularly skewed, but a major study still found that the best people in almost any field have significantly more output than the typical person. The more complex the domain, the more significant the effect, so it’s especially noticeable in professional jobs like management, sales, and medicine.
Now, some of these differences are just due to luck: even if everyone were an equally good fit, there could still be big differences in outcomes just because some people happen to get lucky while others don’t. However, some component is almost certainly due to skill, and this means that you’ll have much more impact if you choose an area where you enjoy the work and have good personal fit.
Second, even if you don’t want to contribute directly, being successful in your field gives you more career capital, which can open up high-impact options later. It also gives you influence and money, which can be used to promote good causes. Think of the example of Bono switching into advocacy for global poverty.
Third, being good at your job and gaining a sense of mastery is a vital component of being satisfied in your work. We covered this in the first article.
Fourth, as we saw earlier, the jobs that are least likely to be automated are those that involve high-level skills, and technology is increasing the rewards for being a top performer.
All this is why personal fit is one of the key factors to look for in a job. We think of “personal fit” as your chances of excelling at a job, if you work at it.
If we put together everything we’ve covered so far in the guide, this would be our formula for a perfect job:
If you’re comparing two career options, you can use these factors to make a side-by-side comparison (read more).
Personal fit is like a multiplier of everything else, and this means it’s probably more important than the other three factors. So, we’d never recommend taking a “high impact” job that you’d be bad at. But how can you figure out where you’ll have the best personal fit?
Hopefully you have some ideas for long-term options (from earlier in the guide). Now we’ll explain how to narrow them down, and find the right career for you.
(Advanced aside: if you’re working as part of a community, then your comparative advantage compared to other people in the community is also important. Read more.)
Why self-reflection, going with your gut and career tests don’t work
Note that after we wrote this article, an updated version of the meta-analysis we cite below was released. The results (in table 2) were similar except that work sample tests seem less promising (though ‘job tryout procedures’, ‘peer ratings’ and ‘job knowledge tests’ remain fairly good and are similar to work samples); and interviews seem more promising. This could suggest a somewhat greater focus on predicting your performance ahead of time by speaking to managers in the relevant path. We hope to do a more thorough review of this research in the future.
Performance is hard to predict ahead of time
When thinking about which career to take, our first instinct is often to turn inwards rather than outwards: “go with your gut” or “follow your heart”.
These approaches assume you can work out what you’re going to be good at ahead of time. But in fact, you can’t.
Here’s the best study we’ve been able to find so far on how to predict performance in different jobs. It’s a meta-analysis of selection tests used by employers, drawing on hundreds of studies performed over 85 years.2 Here are some of the results:
Type of selection test
Correlation with job performance (r)
Work sample tests
Job knowledge tests
Job tryout procedure
Years of education
None of the tests are very good. A correlation of 0.5 is pretty weak, so even if you try to predict using the best available techniques, you’re going to be “wrong” much of the time: candidates that look bad will often turn out good, and vice versa. Anyone who’s hired people before will tell you that’s exactly what happens, and there is some systematic evidence for this 3.
Because hiring is so expensive, employers really want to pick the best candidates and they know exactly what the job requires. If even they, using the best available tests, can’t figure out who’s going to perform best in advance, you probably don’t have much chance.
Don’t go with your gut
If you were to try to predict performance in advance, “going with your gut” isn’t the best way to do it. Research in the science of decision-making collected over several decades shows that intuitive decision-making only works in certain circumstances.
For instance, your gut instinct can tell you very rapidly if someone is angry with you. This is because our brain is biologically wired to rapidly warn us when in danger.
Your gut can also be amazingly accurate when trained. Chess masters have an astonishingly good intuition for the best moves, and this is because they’ve trained their intuition by playing lots of similar games, and built up a sense of what works and what doesn’t.
However, gut decision-making is poor when it comes to working out things like how fast a business will grow, who will win a football match, and what grades a student will receive. Earlier, we also saw that our intuition is poor at working out what will make us happy. This is all because our untrained gut instinct makes lots of mistakes, and in these situations it’s hard to train it to do better.
Career decision-making is more like these examples than being a chess grandmaster. It’s hard to train our gut instinct when:
The results of our decisions take a long time to arrive.
We have few opportunities to practice.
The situation keeps changing.
This is exactly the situation with career choices: we only make a couple of major career decisions in our life, it takes years to see the results, and the job market keeps changing.
This all means your gut can give you clues about the best career. It can tell you things like “I don’t trust this person” or “I’m not excited by this project”. But you can’t simply “go with your gut”.
Many career tests are built on “Holland types” or something similar. These tests classify you as one of six “Holland-types”, like “artistic” or “enterprising”. Then they recommend careers that match that type. However, we can see from the table that “Holland-type match” is very weakly correlated with performance. It’s also barely correlated with job satisfaction. So that’s why we don’t recommend traditional career tests.
What does work when finding out where you’ll excel? Trying things out.
In the table above, the tests that best predict performance are those that are closest to actually doing the work (with the interesting exception of IQ). This is probably what we should have expected.
A work sample test is simply doing some of the work, and having the results evaluated by someone experienced. Peer ratings measure what your peers think of your performance (and so can only be used for internal promotions). Job tryout procedures and job knowledge tests are what they sound like.
So if you’re choosing between several options, it’s helpful to do your research ahead of time. But eventually you need to actually try things. The closer you can get to actually doing the work, the better. For example, if you’re considering doing economics research, actually try some research and see how well you do, rather than just think about how much you enjoy studying it – studying a subject is very different from actually doing research.
This is true whether you’re at the start of your career or near the end, and whether you’re planning what to do long-term, comparing two offers, or considering quitting your job.
So, if there’s a job you’re interested in, see if there’s a way to try it out ahead of time. If you’re considering three long-term options and aren’t sure which to take, see if you can try out each of them over the coming years.
If you’re choosing which restaurant to eat at, the stakes aren’t high enough to warrant much research. But a career decision will influence decades of your life, so could easily be worth weeks or months of work.
In your early career, exploration is even more important
Early on you know relatively little about your strengths and options. Once you’ve spent a few years learning more, you’ll be able to make better decisions over the coming decades. It’s better to do this exploration early, if possible, so you can use the lessons later.
Also consider trying one or two wildcards to further broaden your experience. These are unusual options off the normal path, like living in a new country, pursuing an unusual side project or trying a sector you would have not normally have worked in (e.g. government, non-profits, social enterprise).
Many successful people did exactly that. Tony Blair worked as a rock music promoter before going into politics. As we saw, Condoleezza Rice was a classical musician before she entered politics, while Steve Jobs even spent a year in India on acid, and considered moving to Japan to become a zen monk. That’s some serious “exploration”.
Today, it’s widely accepted that many people will work in several sectors and roles across their lifetime. The typical 25 to 34-year-old changes jobs every three years,4 and changes are not uncommon later too.
Trying out lots of options can also help you avoid one of the biggest career mistakes: considering too few options. We’ve met lots of people who stumbled into paths like PhDs, medicine or law because they felt like the default at the time, but who, if they had considered more options, could easily have found something that fit them better. Pushing yourself to try out several areas will help you to avoid this mistake. Try to settle on a single goal too early, however, and you could miss a great option.
All this said, exploring can still be costly. Trying out a job can take several years, and changing job too often makes you look flaky. How can you explore, while keeping the costs low?
How to narrow down your options
You can’t try everything, so before you explore, we need to cut your long-term options down to a shortlist. How best to narrow down? Since gut decision making is unreliable, it helps to be a little systematic.
Many people turn to pro and con lists, but these have some weaknesses. First, there’s no guarantee that the pros and cons that come to mind will be the most important aspects of the decision. Second, pro and con lists don’t force you to look for disconfirming evidence or generate more options, and these are some of the most powerful ways to make better decisions. It’s easy to use lists of pros and cons to rationalise what you already believe.
Here’s the process we recommend for narrowing down. It’s based on a literature review of decision making science and what has worked well in one-on-one advising. You can also use it when you need to compare options to shortlist, or compare your current job against alternatives.
1. Make a big list of options.
Write out your initial list, including both what problem you want to focus on and what role you want e.g. economics researcher focusing on global health; marketing for a meat substitutes company, earning to give as a software engineer.
Then force yourself to come up with more. You can find ideas in our previousarticles. But here are some questions to help you think of more:
If you couldn’t take any of the options on your first list, what would you do?
If money were no object, what would you do?
What do your friends advise?
(If already with experience) how could you use your most valuable career capital?
Can you combine your options to make the best of both worlds?
Can you find any more opportunities through your connections?
2. Rank your options.
Start by making an initial guess of how they rank.
If you have more time, then score your options from one to five, based on:
Supportive conditions for job satisfaction
Any other factors that are important to you.
Career capital, if you’re considering options for the next few years (rather than your long-term aims).
Then, try to cut down to a shortlist. Eliminate the options that are worse on all factors than another (“dominated options”), and those that are very poor on one factor. You can add up all your scores to get a very rough ranking of options. If one of your results seems odd, try to understand why. For each option, ask “why might I be wrong?” and adjust your ranking. This is a very useful way to reduce bias.
3. Write out your key uncertainties
What information could most easily change your ranking? If you could get the answer to one question, which question would be most useful? Write these out. For instance, “Can I get a place on Teach for America?”, “Would I enjoy programming?” or “How pressing is global poverty compared to open science?”.
If you’re stuck, imagine you had to decide your career in just one weekend – what would you do in that time to make the right choice?
4. Do some initial research.
Can you quickly work out any of these key uncertainties? For instance, if you’re unsure whether you’d enjoy being a data scientist, can you go and talk to someone about what it’s like? Or is there something you could read, like one of our career reviews?
At this point, you might have a clear winner, in which case you can skip the next part. Most people, however, end up with a couple of alternatives that look pretty good. At that point, it’s time to explore. But how best to do that?
If you want a more detailed version of the process just above, try our decision tool:
We often find people who want to try out economics, so they go and apply for a Master’s course. But that’s a huge investment. Instead, think about how you can learn more with the least possible effort: “cheap tests”.
The aim is to get as close as possible to actually doing the work, but with the smallest possible investment of time.
You can think of making a “ladder” of tests. For instance, if you’re interested in policy advising, here are the steps you might take:
Read our relevant career reviews and do some Google searches to learn the basics (1-2h).
Then the next most useful thing you can usually do is to speak to someone in the area. The right person can give you far more up-to-date and personalised information than what you’ll be able to find written down (2h).
Speak to three more people who work in the area and read one or two books (20h). You could also consider speaking to a careers adviser who specialises in this area. During this, also find out the most effective way for you to enter the area, given your background. Bear in mind that when you’re talking to these people, they are also informally interviewing you – see our advice on preparing for interviews in a later article.
Now look for a project that might take 1-4 weeks of work, like volunteering on a political campaign, or starting a blog on the policy area you want to focus on. If you’ve done the previous step, you’ll know what’s best.
Only now consider taking on a 2-24 month commitment, like a short work placement, internship or graduate study. At this point, being offered a trial position with an organisation for a couple of months can actually be an advantage, because it means both parties will make an effort to quickly assess your fit.
At each point, you’d re-evaluate whether policy advising was one of your most promising options, and only continue to the next step if it was.
How to explore: order your options well
You can gain more opportunities to explore if you put your options in the right order.
1. Explore before graduate study rather than after
In the couple of years right after you graduate, people give you license to try out something more unusual – for example starting a business, living abroad or working at a non-profit. You’re not expected to have your career figured out right away.
If it doesn’t go well, you can use the “graduate school reset”: do a Masters, MBA, law degree, or PhD, then return to the traditional path.
We see lots of people rushing into graduate school or other conventional options right after they graduate, missing one of their best opportunities to explore.
In particular, it’s worth exploring before a PhD rather than after. At the end of a PhD it’s hard to leave academia. This is because going from a PhD to a post-doc, and then into a permanent academic position is very competitive, and it’s very unlikely you’ll succeed if you don’t focus 100% on research. So, if you’re unsure about academia, try out alternatives before your PhD if possible.
2. Put “reversible” options first
For instance, it’s easier to go from a position in business to a non-profit job than vice versa, so if you’re unsure between the two, take the business position first.
3. Choose options that let you experiment
An alternative approach is to take a job that lets you try out several areas by:
Letting you work in a variety of industries. Freelance and consulting positions are especially good.
Letting you practice many different skills. Jobs in small companies are often especially good on this front.
Giving you the free time and energy to explore other things outside of work.
4. Try on the side
If you’re already in a job, think of ways to try out a new option on the side. Could you do a short but relevant project in your spare time, or in your existing job? At the very least, speak to lots of people in the job.
If you’re a student, try to do as many internships and summer projects as possible. Your university holidays are one of the best opportunities in your life to explore.
“80,000 Hours has nothing short of revolutionised the way I think about my career.”
When Jess graduated from maths and philosophy a couple of years ago, she was interested in academia and leaned towards studying philosophy of mind, but was concerned that it would have little impact.
So the year after she graduated, she spent several months working in finance. She didn’t think she’d enjoy it, and she turned out to be right, so she felt confident eliminating that option. She also spent several months working in non-profits, and reading about different research areas.
Most importantly, she spoke to loads of people, especially in the areas of academia she was most interested in. This eventually led to her being offered to study a PhD in psychology, focused on how to improve decision-making by policy makers.
During her PhD, she did an internship at a leading evidence-based policy think tank, and started writing about psychology for an online newspaper. This meant that she was exploring the ‘public intellectual’ side of being an academic, and the option of going into policy.
At the end of her PhD, she can either continue in academia, or switch into policy or writing. She could also probably go back to finance or the non-profit sector. Most importantly, she’ll have a far better idea of which options are best.
Apply this to your own career: how to explore
Use the narrowing down process above to cut your options down to a shortlist of three to five.
For each option in your shortlist, write out one or two cheap tests that you could do over the next three months.
Then, if you wanted to try out your remaining top options, what would the best order be? Consider just spending several years trying out different areas.
When you need to make your final decision, you can use the narrowing down process again.
If you’d like to find out more about how to make good decisions and predictions, we recommend Decisive by Chip and Dan Heath, and Superforecasting by Philip Tetlock.
We like to imagine we can work out what we’re good at through reflection, in a flash of insight. But that’s not how it works.