Picking Opportunities

When we’re identifying the right career or role for us, we often look at pay as being the most important factor, but think broader.

Photo by June Gathercole on Unsplash

If you’ve ever been looking for a new job, the default thing to look at is how much it pays. This makes sense, we have commitments like our rent and bills, and expectations — our salary band can become a big part of our identity.

This is the same attitude when it comes to new projects or opportunities that come up — what’s in it for me?

If we rethink the what to include more richness than just wealth, we can create a lot more value that can payback over and over again in the future.


An example of this, would be to judge job opportunities on whether they help you to widen your social networks.

Having a wider social network can pay back in many ways — from creating new opportunities to knowledge transfer and sharing. I talked about weak ties in It’s True, It’s Not What You Know and developing your contacts through work can pay back more as it can help you establish yourself among peers and in an industry.

Which roles and projects will actively get you out amongst those networks — at conferences or exhibitions — to learn, chat, engage and become seen as being integral to that ecosystem?


Sometimes these new opportunities can create completely new pathways that we couldn’t have anticipated. Having evidence of what you’ve achieved in that period can build your reputation in a sector or industry — I’ll talk more about prove it again bias in a future post, and why that might be useful for many.

It’s also worthwhile to take a step back every now and again to reapproach challenges with different resources and conditions. It might help you to appreciate how things can be done differently when faced with them again.

It’s also far better to gain these experiences and make those mistakes while on someone else’s payroll. The more of this experience that you can develop before you cut the cord to your monthly salary the better.

Reflecting on the Privilege Behind Picking the Right Path, if you decide to go back to the Helsinki Bus Station you might opt to take a lower salary for a period to try out a new experience or industry and learn where your skills and experiences carry over and transfer well.


Reputation is where your networks and experience meet. If you’re in the right role you can use it to amplify your experience and future potential value to your networks.

Building your reputation is a slow and arduous process, earned in drops, lost in buckets but being in the right position can accelerate the process.

This isn’t the idea of exposure paying the bills. There’s a level of privilege in how far you can take this. You might perceive it to be a gamble not worth taking, and that’s a very reasonable position when faced with a mortgage, kids to feed and bills to pay.

But, it’s also important to make sure you’re not being undervalued, you can make a good living while still developing these other areas. You might be gaining in all of these other ways but that doesn’t mean that someone else can get away with paying you less in exchange.

New opportunities

Next time you’re taking a look at a new job, think about what it pays back beyond just your pay cheque.

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Gareth I. Jones

Founder of TownSq, focused on building communities of entrepreneurs, supporting startups and B Corps - businesses that are better for the planet.