Make decisions

Advice and approaches to make the decision-making process a bit smoother

Decision making is a lifelong skill which you need throughout your career journey – and it’s not always easy! Whether you’re choosing whether to do a part-time job, deciding what types of work interest you most, choosing between job offers or making any other career-related decision, sometimes your usual way of deciding things just isn’t working for you.

Don’t be too hard on yourself. You can only make decisions based on what you know at the time – and that’s much better than no decision at all. Breaking the process down makes it clearer how you are thinking and can help you reach decisions with confidence. 

If you are struggling to move forwards because you are torn between too many different options, here are some approaches you can try. If you tend to make decisions the same way but this time you feel really “stuck”, try a different approach.

Here are some approaches to try:  

Are you good at convincing yourself of something? This activity is good for people with lots of imagination, or who want to have a go at a visualisation exercise.

If you are struggling with a decision you need a new way of looking at the problem. These questions help you reconsider your decision-making dilemma with a different perspective.

Simply comparing the advantages and disadvantages of each option doesn’t take into account how strongly you feel about certain issues. Assigning a weighting to each advantage or disadvantage which reflects your strength of feeling takes this into account.

Here's an example:

Job A - in next town, good pay, study for professional qualifications before possible promotion

Job B - some distance away, pay very good but promotion slow

In this example, pay is really important so gets a weighting of 4 while meeting people was less important.

Pay x4

Chances of Promotion x3

Near Home x3

Meeting People x1

Analysing the opportunities

The next step is to assess how well each of the opportunities addresses the factor you feel are important. In this example it uses a scale of +2 for very well, to -2 very little.

                                         Job A        Job B

Pay                                     +1              +2

Promotion                      +1               -1

Near Home                      -1               -2

Meeting People             +1              +1

Reaching a decision

Combining the assessment of how important different factors are, with how well each opportunity addresses each factor, allows us to come up with an indication of how suitable each opportunity is.

                                           Job A              Job B

Pay x4                            4 x 1 =     4           4 x 2 =     8

Promotion x3             3 x 1 =     3           3 x -1=   -3

Near Home x3            3 x -1 =  -3        3 x -2 =     -6

Meeting People x1   1 x 1 =      1            1 x 1 =   1

TOTALS                                            5                            0

Adding up the totals for each factor shows that Job A is more suitable than Job B.

Often we are making these judgments subconsciously. Breaking the process down in this way makes it clearer how we are thinking and may help us reach decisions with confidence.

In this blog, Alasdair McMillan, Careers Consultant, provides an excellent overview of a career theory, Career Anchors, which can help you to understand what ‘shape’ you want your career to have:

Inform.ed blog - The ‘shape’ of you – using Career Anchors to understand how your career should look