One of the biggest issues in most of my professional advising sessions is the reluctance to seek out multiple options. Contrary to popular belief, having many options is the lesser of the evils when it comes to making life-changing, career decisions.  It provides broader perspective and enables individuals to seriously consider exciting new options.

Whether applying to academic or internship programs or setting out to find a new job, here are 5 principles to keep in mind when embarking on a new chapter in your career.

  1. Know all your options

If you are looking to make a change in your career, then know your options.   Avoid the pitfall of focusing solely on one option because it is convenient and/or easy. 

If you are ready to make a change, then make sure it is a good one.  Search for all opportunities that may be available to you and learn more.  The more flexible you are, the more options you will have. 

Learn about all of them.

  1. Prioritize your options from ideal to livable.

Once you have a great big list of options, then prioritize them.  Select a few factors that you can rank objectively for each option and create some criteria.  Also, listen to your intuition and learn to trust your gut feelings. 

Eliminate any option that ranks below the “livable” designation.  Your final list of possible options should only be filled with plausible options.

  1. Apply to all the options on your list.

Do not limit yourself, especially if the only cost is effort.  If you want to learn more about eight job positions, then apply to all eight. 

If you want to increase your chances of getting accepted into a graduate or internship program, then apply to all those that meet your criteria.

If you are serious about changing, then you will spend the effort and money needed to increase your odds of success.

  1. Accept Interview Invitations

Whether you are leaning towards a position or not, if you are asked to interview…say “YES”.   Always accept the invitation to interview. 

The interview process is a time to learn more about the position, institution, culture, and environment.  Not only are the interviewers going to learn about you, but you will learn all about them and more.  You may even learn a little bit more about yourself.

 Even if you are not strongly considering a position, complete the interview for practice and exposure.  If this is a plausible option, then give yourself and them a chance.  You might just learn something that will change your view.

  1. Open Your Mind

Do not be bogged down by fear or preconceived notions.  To find your best match, you need to reassess your thoughts about each option after you learn, apply, and interview.  New information may sway your opinion.

Also, avoid “scaring” yourself out of a great opportunity.  Fear of moving and fear of failure tend to be the most common reasons that some people do not even learn about all the opportunities available to them.

You will only be able to succeed in change that you believe you can make.  Don’t let barriers stop you from realizing your dreams.  Try to find others who have made these types of choices. People have moved their families all over the world to make great strides in their life and career.

Recognize that everyone has barriers but those that open their mind to all their options…succeed.   

For more guidance, consider the Developing Your Career Plan course or the DI Application Crash Course.