Are you a small fish in a big pond or a big fish in a very small pond?
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Jane is an up and coming financial analyst who wants to be a Chief Financial Officer someday. She has some choices to make about her next role.
She could take that job as a Financial Planning Manager in Gigantic Corporation, a multi-billion dollar corporation with dozens of divisions. She would be one of many in that role. The company is mature, growing steadily. She can see a long future career path in leadership roles in one of those divisions. But she also anticipates the bureaucracy and politics that comes from a huge company. She would be a little fish in a big pond.
Or she could take that role as a Chief Financial Officer in the small but fast growing start up. Less stable but she could be her own boss right away instead of waiting. She could have immediate impact.
Small fish in a big pond? Or big fish in a very small pond?
This could be the most important career decision Jane or anyone makes. Each choice leads to a different path.
Here are three tips to make a smart career decision:
- Which people do you prefer? Do you see mentors and colleagues or potential foes? Consider whether you want to work with that team hour after hour, day after day for years in the future.
- Which culture matches your workstyle and lifestyle values? People come and go but the culture will probably stay the same so you better feel like you fit from the inside out.
- What is your tolerance for risk? The smaller pond is much riskier. But the rewards might be great if you can tolerate the risk.
I have a pretty high tolerance for risk compared to some people. I also like to have immediate impact without bureaucracy. I often chose to be a big fish in a smaller pond. It worked for me but it does not always work for other people.
Don’t make such an important decision based on money or perks. Fit beats money every day. Be the right fish in the right pond for your career satisfaction.
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