It wasn’t all that long ago that the vast majority of citizens tended to choose their profession, as well as the organizations they applied to, based almost solely on their potential for career advancement.
However, things have changed a bit in recent decades. Nowadays, it’s definitely not unheard of for an individual to opt for the organization whose overall culture melds better with their own, rather than focusing specifically on which one provides the best professional opportunities.
Now, this isn’t to say that one or the other is the better decision from an objective standpoint. The reality is, some people are more suited to focus on one or the other – and others, still, are happily looking for a way to make a compromise between the two.
At any rate, our goal for this article is to look at the pros and cons of a strictly “one or the other” outlook, and to come to some sort of balance between the two.
Focusing on Career Advancement
If you’re not the type of person who is laser-focused on their career, you can almost certainly think of someone you know who is.
The individual who’s focused strictly on their career, above all else, defines success in a much more traditional fashion. That is, they see success in their ability to climb the corporate ladder, earn a higher salary, and continue to grow in their professional abilities. For these individuals, the effort they put into their job is necessary, specifically so they can grow in their career and reach this higher level of success.
To be sure, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with this outlook.
We simply mean to say that they don’t pay much attention to things like company culture. They aren’t bothered if they don’t “fit in” with their colleagues or anything like that – they’re driven solely by a relentless pursuit to do their job and to do it well.
However, this relentless pursuit can, unfortunately, prove to be a grueling and potentially unenjoyable experience in the long run. And, due to the various uncertainties in our current world, there’s also the chance that their efforts can end up being for nought; layoffs and other such cutbacks can potentially erase everything a given employee has worked for.
Again, being highly career-driven is absolutely not a bad thing – in fact, it can lead individuals to reach their true potential as human beings. However, as we’ll discuss, it’s also advisable to at least consider that there may be more to a career than…well…just work.
Focusing on Company Culture
Typically, those who place more importance on company culture do see their job as more than “just a job” – in a few different ways.
For one thing, such individuals usually place more importance on the effect their efforts have on the world than on the money they make every two weeks. Their idea of making a mark and attaining success lies in their ability to change the world for the better in one way or another. For the most part, these individuals will go above and beyond the call of duty not to get ahead in their careers, but because they want to accomplish what they believe needs to be accomplished for the world around them to thrive.
As with the previous outlook, this isn’t the right or wrong way to approach a career choice.
However, those who see their job as a way to make a difference in this world – or those who simply place more importance on enjoying their time on the job than on making a hefty salary – may often overlook the importance of earning a decent salary in the first place. That is, they may convince themselves that the monetary sacrifices they make don’t matter all that much – even if they’re making much less than they could.
Additionally, those who focus solely on making a difference by accomplishing their company’s goals may also end up overworking themselves, leaving little to no time for everything else life has to offer. Just as a relentless pursuit of career advancement can lead to burnout, so too can a heavy involvement in a company’s culture and mission.
While the above sections took both sides of the coin to their extreme ends, we did so to prove a point:
Focusing solely on company culture or career advancement is almost certainly not a good thing. By focusing strictly on one side of the coin, you’ll inherently lose sight of the potential gains to be had from the other.
That said, your goal should be to find a profession and a company that enables you to strike a balance that you’re comfortable with. As we said, your career goals will differ from those of your peer in some way or another – and there’s nothing wrong with that. That is, as long as you make the decision that works best for you.
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