The Opportunity Chart makes hard decisions easier

2021-04-08 | BY Kelly Feest | IN Free Resources

The Opportunity Chart makes hard decisions easier

After years of helping professionals explore and ultimately transition into new careers, I truly believe that the decision to change jobs is about more than just money, flashy perks, or cool company swag. Unfortunately, our judgment is often clouded when interviewing with 2 or more companies and we end up relying on gut reactions.

That’s why I created The Opportunity Chart to help professionals consider their options. The Opportunity Chart is a simple, straightforward spreadsheet used to condense information and facts, keeping separate your emotional perspectives from your objective reasoning. Documenting these notes allows you to form highly-personalized, logical conclusions based on your true priorities and non-negotiable needs. Used properly, the chart paints a complete picture of the opportunities that most closely align with your initial goals and interests.

Let’s open the The Opportunity Chart (click + check your downloads!) to get started.

How it works

1. Set your priorities 

The first thing you’ll want to do is scan and reorder column #1. Ask yourself: what aspects of my career are most valuable to me? – culture, compensation, commute, remote flexibility, something else entirely? Reorganize this list top to bottom, from most to least important.

*Listen to the full episode with Golden Squirrel here!*

My suggestion is to go through and fill out column # before any hiring managers, fancy packages, or outside opinions have the chance to bias your thinking. The sooner you complete this step, the better it will reflect your real desires and intentions.

Already you’ll find that this is a powerful exercise in simplifying your priorities and uncovering your goals. It can even help reveal preferences you weren’t aware of.. i.e. you may be surprised to find that technology ranks much higher than culture for you. Or maybe room for growth is your #1 non-negotiable and technology is a distant second; that’s fine too. There’s no wrong way to order the list, so long as it reflects what’s important to you.

2. Picture your ideal opportunity

Now that you’ve made your priorities quantifiable, it’s time to move on to the good stuff. 

Column #2 is going to represent your dream job. You’ll want to define what makes a job most desirable to you, knowing that it’s unlikely any job will check all of your boxes. Identifying an opportunity that matches most closely with your dream job is the ultimate goal.

3. Compare & consider

As you interview with various companies, add them to the sheet in columns 3, 4, 5, etc. To ensure that your notes are complete and fair, I suggest adding all applicable information immediately following each interview. 

Once you have 2-3 companies included, patterns will start to emerge. A job that sounded amazing in the interview – perfect culture and manager! – might actually be far from your target because the tech stack is completely off, or the compensation is significantly lower than you envisioned. 

The chart can also help you spot dead ends. Say, for example, technology is at the top of your priority list and this job – though exciting – requires a frontend or backend system you just don’t like. According to your Opportunity Chart, it’s better to cut ties now rather than let the process drag on and dilute your focus along the way. 

4. Reduce emotional bias, get outside perspectives

It’s important to keep your recruiter involved as you get a better sense of the role(s). Since we often have insider understanding of the companies and key components, we may be able to shed light on your decision-making process. We can identify gaps in the interview process, provide comparison points, and even go back to help clarify any missing or unclear information.

5. Make a holistic decision

Sadly, I would say that 95% of the time compensation becomes the focal point during the offer stage. Technology? -Suddenly doesn’t matter. Company culture? -Who cares. Remote flexibility? -Whatever. 

It’s extremely hard for anyone to see much beyond the numbers. But the reality is you are a complex being with many goals and needs, as reflected by the Opportunity Chart. Any good decision should take into consideration all factors, not just the dollars and cents. 

That’s the true value of the Opportunity Chart! It’s a powerful tool based on a simple idea – helping you tease apart your gut reactions of “the HR person was so friendly!” from your logical reasoning; “this company has a long term growth plan that aligns with my career path”. That way you can accept an offer with clarity and excitement!

I’m happy to help walk you through the process or brainstorm career ideas – feel free to send me an email at! You can also check out the Golden Squirrel podcast episode where I outline the ins and outs of the job search and recruiting process. 

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