Defining your next career move – critical questions

When coaching candidates to identify their potential and developing themselves we quite often end up reflecting on what could be the clients next career steps. I am quite often surprised by the fact how similar the answers are when the client defines his/her career ambitions. Clients in career coaching want more complex and challenging tasks, learning new things and larger responsibilities. Being part of the team, having a good managerial relationship and manageable work & life balance are also on top of the “wish list”.

Identify your own and unique decision parameters

I usually challenge my clients on their decision criteria and coach them to identify their own and unique decision parameters. As an example, I do recognize that good a compensation package can be important for many reasons but at the same time it should be only one decision criteria among others. I advocate long-term thinking and a more analytical approach when setting up client´s individual career goals.

In a HBR article (25th March 2022) Dorian Clark shares some thoughts on how to build up long term career goals. She summarizes well that you would need to start with the end in your mind – you need to know where you are heading to. You also need to define what you absolutely do not want and take steps to avoid it. When choosing the next career steps, you also need to narrow down your alternatives and focus on the most relevant ones, preferably those steps which take you towards your long-term goals. And finally think about the timing when to move on when considering your energy levels. Please check the article

The importance of internal drivers

I agree with Dorian Clark, and additionally I want to highlight some critical questions which comes up in my coaching discussions. I want to highlight the importance of internal drivers, sometimes referred to as motivational factors. When defining your next steps, it is beneficial to start reflecting on your true drivers. Putting it in a simple way: think about the situations which give you energy and increase your work well-being rather than makes you exhausted. When was the last time that you did something which was truly emotionally rewarding?

Considering cultural contexts

When coaching my client´s I also remind them that all our experiences are linked to a cultural context. For example, if you have bad experiences in the past in a certain industry, it does not necessarily mean that all the companies are similar in that industry. The cultural factors which are important to analyze, reflect on and challenge to conclude if your decision parameters are actually valid in all situations.

Making a career move is not always an easy decision to make. But when you have sorted out your thoughts proactively and before entering discussions with your potential employers, you will be perceived as more motivated, and value driven that most of the candidates.

To summarize: by preparing your long-term career goals and planning your next move you will most likely focus on the right opportunities and consequently have a higher possibility to get the job you really want.

Mikko Taipale works as Partner, Executive Search, Board Services and Talent Management in AIMS International Sweden. He is also a Certified Coach by International Coaching Federation (ACC), with close to 15 years of coaching experience.  Before starting in AIMS International Sweden he worked close to 20 years in large corporates as a HR leader.

Defining your next career move
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Mikko has more than 20 years of experience in international roles within large global organisations. He has hold Senior HR leadership roles and specialist positions within both telecom and automotive electronics and worked in Sweden, Finland and Germany. Mikko has a Master of Law degree and he has practised in the City Court of Helsinki. Before transitioning to HR Mikko worked several years within legal consultancy.


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