In an earlier article I suggested a BRAVE approach to finding your next job. It gives you a framework for adding deliberate thinking to an emotional process and your ultimate choice. The crux of the issue is getting at the right weighting of the dimensions driving your choice – especially between your short-term ideal job criteria and long-term goals to optimize the growth potential of your next role. Ask:

  • Where to play to focus your job search on where you can be most successful next.
  • What matters most to you in terms of the balance of doing good for others, things you’re good at and doing good for yourself.
  • How you can win to sharpen your focus on what makes you differentially valuable to potential employers.
  • How to connect to guide your message and story.
  • How to understand and communicate the impact you can have on potential employers.



  1. List your likes and dislikes – your raw data pulled from past activities and jobs – about specifics, not generalities.
  2. Lay out your ideal job criteria.
  3. Identify your long-term goals.
  4. Create a broad range of options.
  5. Make choices by evaluating your options against your criteria and goals.


Job Search Steps

Prepare your positioning and messaging before contacting any prospective employers.

Between your first contact and their offer, all you’re doing is selling. Everything you say and do, including every question you ask, should help potential employers understand and believe you have the right combination of strengths, motivation and fit to help them. You can’t turn down a job you haven’t been offered.

An offer or multiple offers switches you from selling mode to buying mode. Do your due diligence to understand potential organizational, role and personal risks. Rule out potential jobs with too much risk for you.

Job choice

Then pull out your ideal job criteria and long-term goals and evaluate your job offers against them. Make a choice. Write it down. Then go to sleep. When you wake up in the morning, you’ll either feel good about your choice or not.

If not, you lied to yourself. Not about the criteria. But about the weighting of the criteria.

Let’s give you an over-simplified example. Assume all Pat cares about is title and salary. Pat has two offers. One is a VP-level job paying $200K. The other is an SVP job paying $175K. Pat chooses the SVP job and goes to sleep. But Pat wakes up feeling terrible. Pat wants the money.

Before Pat went to sleep, Pat implicitly weighted the title higher than the cash. Pat’s morning reaction revealed the cash was actually more important to Pat.

In your case, you’re probably looking at multiple criteria and a much more complex situation. Think through the different criteria and their relative importance in your job choices.


Ideal job criteria versus long-term goals

Remember the Stanford marshmallow experiment? Children were given the choice of having one marshmallow now or two later. Those that were able to delay their gratification ended up with better life outcomes, particularly in terms of education and health.

One possible implication of this is that two marshmallows are healthier than one. But that’s not where I’m leading you.

The key point is that the most important and often most difficult trade-off is between your ideal job criteria and your long-term goals. It’s really hard to turn down more immediate and certain things like a better title, more cash compensation, and better work-life balance in favor of a job with a less exciting title, less short-term cash and longer work hours. But that’s the first marshmallow.

Those willing to compromise on things like title, cash and work-life balance ask how any particular job or role moves them towards their long-term objectives. They avoid cul-de-sacs on the way and take jobs that enable them to acquire new knowledge, skills, experience, and craft by working for people that can help them grow in places filled with opportunities for personal and professional growth. They see delaying some of their ideal job criteria as a long-term investment in their own careers.

Click here for a list of my Forbes articles (of which this is #768) and a summary of my book on executive onboarding: The New Leader’s 100-Day Action Plan.

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