Having a successful career is partly about managing the associated risks.
1. Joining the company your brilliant former boss set up
Let’s face it – joining any new company is a risk. Your boss was great to work for, but do they understand enough about cash flow and balance sheets to run a solvent business over the long term? If the company is recruiting many people at the same time as you, will it know enough to pick the right people? How will the working relationships pan out?
All these factors are risks; however, you saw your former boss day in, day out and you probably have a pretty shrewd idea about their talents, realism and appetite for hard work. They clearly impressed you; therefore, their business has a head start over many others in that it is led by someone you know is both impressive and competent.
They also clearly believe that you will be a real asset to the business, which is a great position from which to start and could mean there is no limit to how far you could go in the new company.
2. Going freelance on the basis of one client contract
You think consultancy is really interesting, you love the life and have a great client ready to sign a contract so that you can get started; however, this is just one client.
This risk is definitely worth taking. You may get more work from this client, your reputation may grow, and you may be able to manage a mix of your own clients and assignments from other consultancies. In the worst case scenario, you can always invite your favourite recruitment consultant out to lunch and ask them to find you a job again.
3. Leaving the security of a big company to join a start-up
The fact that you are even considering this means that security is not everything to you. You are going to be in the workforce a long time and one of the skills you will need is adaptability. Take a long, hard look at the start-up and bear in mind that the knowledge you will obtain from working in a completely different culture may pay dividends if you decide to return to corporate life.
4. Trying something completely new
This might involve stepping away from the professional role you have followed since college or moving to a completely new industry. This is scary, but you might surprise yourself by discovering your true direction in life. Even if you hate it, you will have that self-knowledge to guide future decisions.
5. Letting your head, heart and gut feeling make your next career move
Why not? ‘Rational’ decisions are often far more influenced by emotion than we care to admit. Any attempt to draw up a simple ‘for’ and ‘against’ list soon runs into the problem that different items on the list carry more or less weight.
It is worth taking a risk when the upside could mean discovering the job you have always wanted. Weigh up the risks, mitigate them as far as you can, and then trust your judgement and gut instinct.
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