job content versus brand: a checklist to help make the right career choice

The exponential increase in the number of start-ups has led to the diversification of job market. Candidates now have innumerable choices - to work for well-established large enterprises or dynamic, rapidly growing smaller companies. When it comes to choosing a career, should you focus on job content or the brand? Job content typically comprises four criteria – skill, effort, responsibility and work environment. A brand, on the other hand, is a lasting impression formed by customers or others who come in contact with a company.   To a prospective employee, is one more important than the other?

Here are some questions you should be asking to help you decide the kind of weightage you need to give to job content vis-à-vis brand while making a career choice. 

# 1 What drives you – pride or job satisfaction?

Associating with a bigger brand is often a matter of pride for the employee’s family and his/her social circle.  Job content is more intrinsic - a source from which you derive your sense of purpose, achievement or even frustration. You might be associated with a smaller brand but could be doing some great work, and vice versa. What bears more weight for an individual – pride vs job satisfaction – varies from person to person. Decide what’s important to you.

#2 Where do you see yourself in the future? 

By the time a person lands his/her first job, they would have already painted the image of their future selves. It is important that career choices are aligned with the future image. If you see yourself leading a steady, well placed job ten years down the line, then choosing an established brand might be your best bet. However, if you want to become an entrepreneur, then job content might be more relevant. Some questions to ask here are: What are the learning opportunities in this job? Will the experience gained in this work profile lead you closer to what you want to accomplish? What new avenues does this job open up in terms of networking, better understanding the nuances of business and so on.

#3 Are you looking for unidirectional or multifaceted development?

Usually while working with bigger brands, professionals witness vertical growth and deep learning opportunities in a specific domain. At start-ups, due to less specialization of roles, everyone gets to do everything. So, employee development in bigger companies is unidirectional, while that in a smaller set up is multi-faceted. It again depends on one’s future aspiration. If entrepreneurship is what you want to do, a stint with start-ups at some point will prove valuable.

#4 Are you confident about your skills?

Many times, your career choice will depend on what stage of work-life you are in. Senior professionals who have worked at bigger establishments might care more about the creative aspect of a job. Clearly, it is the job profile that’s of primary concern for them. If you are confident of your expertise, growth will follow irrespective of the brand you associate with.

#5 Are you interested in learning about people and processes?

Associating with larger companies can help you draw practical insights into people and processes. Big organizational set ups deal in bigger numbers with higher stakes. Whether your future goal is to set up your own company or climb the corporate ladder, knowledge of different aspects will be useful. 

Deciding whether to base your career on job content or brand is a highly personal one. Regardless, every career span should be a good blend of working in larger corporates where you learn how to run a business as well as smaller set ups where you actually apply what you learn. 
 
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