Update: 7 career strategies for making a difference

We recently released a page on “top career strategies”, featuring two career strategies for building your long-run potential, and five for immediate impact:

  1. The experimenter: Finding a career that’s the right fit for you is important, but it’s also difficult to do just by thinking about it. It can therefore be a good strategy to try out a number of different areas in order to learn more about your own interests and skills.
  2. The self-developer: When you’ve narrowed down which area you want to enter, focus on investing in yourself to build your career capital.
  3. The effective worker: There are many non-profit and for-profit organisations that have a large impact, which are short of specific types of human capital. If you’re a good fit for a high-impact organization, it’s an option worth considering. By high-impact organisations we mean those that are well-run and work on an effective cause.
  4. The entrepreneur: If you’ve got potential as an entrepreneur, attempt to found new effective non-profit organisations or innovative for-profits that benefit their customers and create positive spill-over effects.
  5. The philanthropist: Some people have skills that are better suited to earning money than the other strategies. These people can take a higher-earning career and donate the money to effective organisations. We call this strategy ‘earning to give’.
  6. The researcher: Some people are especially good at and interested in research – attempting to create new knowledge. If this is you, and you have the opportunity to work in a field that seems particularly important, tractable and neglected, then this could be a way to have a large impact.
  7. The advocate: If you can take a job that gives you a public platform, good network and credibility, you can use it to promote and unite people behind important ideas.

The aim of the strategies is to give people ideas for what they could do with their careers over the medium-term.

The five strategies for impact replace the “five types of career”, which were on the first version of our website: professional philanthropist, innovator, improver, advocate and researcher.

The problem with the five types was that they weren’t concrete enough, so people were unsure how to act on them. Now we’ve started preparing individual career profiles, we can recommend specific career paths within each strategy. We’ve also added extra detail on what to do within some of the types, such as research.

In addition, we replaced “improver” with “effective worker” and “innovator” with “entrepreneur”, which are both much more clearly defined.

We added the first two strategies because over the last year we’ve come to put more weight on building long-run potential compared to having an immediate impact. We think it’s often useful for people early in their career to go through a period of experimentation, or to mainly focus on learning and building useful, transferable career capital.

There’s a lot we could do to expand these profiles, along the lines of our career profiles. So, we’re keen to hear how useful you find them, and what improvements you’d most like to see.