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Career Development Check-list of Objectives and Constraints

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According to a paper by Oxford academics Carl Frey and Michael Osborne, some 40% to 80% of all the jobs that exist today are under threat from technological change within the next twenty years. An example of this sort of attack is that is being experiences by taxi drivers, firstly from the Über app on smart-phones and, only a little later, from self-driving cars. The ‘learned professions are not exempt. English law is governed by precedents and, traditionally, barristers had to be well versed in an enormous volume of case law. Not any more – modern database technology threatens all that. Cannot a quantity surveyor already be replaced by software linked to computerised architects’ plans and builders’ merchant catalogues?

In order to meet the challenges of this ever-changing world of work, you need to plan ahead in a versatile way. You can start now with the following list of factors, that should be scored on a scale of 1 to 10 in ascending degree of importance to you, with a score of zero for any factor offered here that is of no importance to you. The factors are listed in a random sequence. Place only one ’X’ in each row, adding to the list and scoring any further factors of importance to you that are not already shown.

Objective / Constraint

Importance Score
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Well paid                      
Secure employment                      
Working in a team                      
Not dependent on the outputs of others                      
Dealing with customers                      
Constructive job content                      
A clear career path (at present)                      
Not waiting for “dead men’s shoes”                      
Fitting in well with family constraints                      
Avoiding having to relocate frequently                      
Minimising business travel                      
Maximising foreign business travel                      
Employer-paid training opportunities                      
Good jumping off point to start own business                      
Emphasis on providing a service                      
Emphasis on designing products or processes                      
Opportunity to demonstrate craftsmanship                      
Employment with fixed work-place                      
Employment that involves being on the move                      
Employment with high degree of remote working                      
Mainly managerial work                      
Work based on membership of a profession                      
Maximisation of employability                      
Restricted demands for versatility                      
Analytical work                      
Enables early retirement                      
Assignment-based work that generates fresh skills                      
Work that is very difficult to computerise                      
Work with high artistic content                      

An Excel version of the above table can be downloaded here.

Are all your non-zero scored objectives are mutually compatible? Are they acceptable to your nearest and dearest? If the answer is “yes” to both questions, your completed check-list is ready to be used to guide any career-affecting decisions you make make, such as:-

[1] If you work for a large enterprise, there may be a recognised system in place for offering transfer opportunities to its employees – which opportunities should you go for?

[2] If opportunities are more hidden and it is a question of networking and lobbying various business units – again, where should you concentrate your efforts?

[3] If you are instead seeking a change of employer, this can be very time consuming, so which vacancies should you pursue?

[4] Prospect runs the career planning web site: and runs training courses, as do the TUC (, the General Federation of Trade Unions, professional bodies, the Open University, further education colleges and commercial companies. Which courses should you go on to further your career objectives?

The check-list itself needs to be updated regularly – at least annually.

Whilst the check-list will help career planning in a qualitative way, it can be further exploited to achieve a mathematically optimum decision whenever you are faced with a number of options, as in [1] to [4] above. To do this, each option has to be scored in % as to how well it meets every one of the non-zero objectives. Basic decision theory states that if you multiply the score of each objective in the table by the % figure and add all these products together for a single option, you will have a measure of how good that option is. Comparing these measures for all the options will show which decision is best. If you have given a non-zero score to very many objectives, it may be worth setting up a spreadsheet for this purpose.

Having arrived at the best option according to your own scoring, it is particularly useful to carry out sensitivity analysis, by making adjustments to the scores in the objectives list and seeing what effect, if any, these adjustments make to the best decision. In many cases, sensitivity analysis reveals robustness in the face of such adjustments, but if the outcome is shown to be highly sensitive, the analysis tells you where you have to pay particular attention to your score for an objective and the % evaluation you have applied for each option against that particular objective.

A PDF version of this article can be downloaded here.

© Prospect – The Union for Professionals 2016

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