How To Figure Out What The Next Step In Your Career Should Be

A sportscaster e-mailed me to share that he was facing one of the biggest challenges in his career. He asked, “How do I know what the right next step is for me? I know I’ll be successful at higher levels but I earn a great salary here and I’ve set down roots.

To determine the best next step in your career, you must prioritize three considerations: career, finances and family.

1. Career

Study the career paths of people who are already where you want to be. Granted, people have variations in their paths. Generally, though, you’ll find there are three or four rather consistent big picture paths for how somebody goes from an entry level to a major market or a network job. Study those paths to determine what your next step needs to be.

One thing to consider when planning your next step is how well your next employer will be able to sell you to their audience. If you are applying to be the voice of the New York Yankees yet all you’ve done is American Legion ball in McPherson, Kansas, it doesn’t matter if you’re the next John Sterling. It’s going to be impossible for the Yankees to sell to their fans that their next voice was doing Legion ball in Kansas.

If the next employer for whom you want to work will not be able to reasonably market you to their fan base, you’re not ready for that step.

2. Finances

When you get married and later start a family, financial considerations become more important. You can’t always take the next job that’s better for your career advancement if it means you aren’t going to be able to support your family as comfortably as you do now.

Also remember that it costs different amounts of money to live in various parts of the country. San Francisco might be the most expensive place to live in the U.S., but other top 20 markets that are much more affordable. Use one of the free online cost of living calculators on the Internet to see what the money you would make in your next job would equal to where you are today so you can understand what your standard of living might be.

3. Family

You may have a wife whose parents live regionally and she wants to stay close to them. Or you may have kids who are deep into school and have developed great friendships from which you don’t want to take them away. If your kids are younger, say six years old or less, then it’s easier for them to relocate because it’s easier for them to make new friends. If your kids are in middle school or high school, new friendships become more difficult.

When you’re trying to figure out what the next step in your career should be, prioritize career, financial and family.  

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