When you’re looking for a job opportunity, is there really a thing as too much choice?
Last week, we wrote an article on how ‘too much choice’– although at face value, may seem like a benefit – can actually hamper employers in the search for key hires.
Looking at Barry Schwartz’s seminal work on the “Paradox of Choice: Why More is Less” we evaluated how more choice when it comes to hiring can actually cause more problems that opportunities – by inhibiting your ability to make a decision at speed, and by causing you to question the very fundamentals of what you wanted in the first place.
It’s a concept that when flipped on its head, also presents you, the job seeker with a dilemma, especially in a market that is crying out for hires at the more junior end of the market (part-qualified and newly qualified finance professionals).
Let’s take a look:
You think you know what you want
When you start looking for a job, you think you know what you want. You have your list of ‘must haves’ and ‘nice to haves’ – salary, location, job title and type of organisation – and you work from there. Whatever your profile – junior or senior – this is always your starting point.
You realise there’s more demand for your skills than you thought
If you’re a newly qualified or part qualified candidate you’ll find out pretty soon that if you’ve got good academics, a good work ethic and a clean career progression, you’ll find it very easy to find a job. In fact, you may end up in the situation where you get offered the first job you applied for, and in the interim, get bombarded with other opportunities by recruiters across the region.
You start to question if what you wanted is the right thing
This perception of choice is like a can of worms. And once it’s opened, it’s not so easy to go back to square one. Suddenly, you’re confronted with a myriad of choice and options that actually you’ve never thought of before. Like Schwartz’s jeans analogy – suddenly your perception of ‘perfect’ becomes heightened and your first job offer becomes either imperfect, trampled on by all the glitz of new opportunities, or questionable (I can’t just take the first job offer I get, surely?).
You face ‘paralysis by analysis’
This leads us to the all-consuming paradox of choice. Paralysis caused by too much choice doesn’t only lead you to question your decision, it leads you down to road of potentially missing out on what you wanted in the first-place – by swaying you away from your initial priorities. Of course, it can also be great for you – but only if you manage it well. Key to this is quickly getting to grips with your opportunity matrix and deciding what is the best route for you not only now, but in the long-term.
You find yourself in a battle
This experience can be extremely stressful. For job seekers, quick offers and requests to take yourself off the market after a first interview may put you off the role. For employers, at the junior (AP/AR, part-qual and newly qual) end of the market, it may feel like a fight, like you have to throw the moon and the stars at hires to get the best talent. All of this leads to poor decisions, further amplifying Schwartz’s philosophy on choice leading to inevitable disappointment.
There is a poignant lesson for both job seekers and employers in this. To bring it back to Schwartz’s theme more is less, work with the principle that less is more. Just like anything, getting the balance between choice, decision and timing right is key to making the right job choice. Just as a job seeker should be cautious to not be paralysed by choice, an employer should be careful not to act too hastily because they feel they will not get anyone else as good. There’s always talent, and there’s always great jobs – the key is not losing focus on what it is that you really want, over the endless options that could take you off track.
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