This free guide is based on five years of research alongside academics at Oxford.
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Introduction: Why read this guide, and how?
Answer: You have 80,000 hours in your career. That’s a damn long time. Spend an hour or two on this guide, and work out what to do with it.
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Part 1: What is a dream job?
Answer: Research shows that to have a fulfilling career, do something you’re good at that makes the world a better place. Don’t aim for a highly paid, easy job, or expect to discover your “passion” in a flash of insight.
Find out the six key ingredients of fulfilling work:
Part 2a: Can one person make a difference?
Answer: Some careers have a huge impact, and some much more than others. As a baseline, any college graduate in the developed world can make a major difference to the lives of hundreds of people by giving 10% of their income to the world’s poorest people.
Find out how much of a difference you can make:
Part 2b: What are the world’s biggest problems?
Answer: To maximise your impact, work on problems that are (1) large in scale, (2) that others neglect, and (3) where it’s possible to make progress. Instead, many people fail to compare the scale of different problems, work on the same problems as everyone else, and support programs with no evidence of impact.
Learn how to compare global problems:
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Part 2c: Which jobs help people the most?
Answer: To find the highest impact jobs: (1) focus on the most pressing problems; (2) choose the best method for working on the problem, considering research, advocacy and earning to give, as well as direct work like medicine, teaching and charity work; and (3) do something with excellent personal fit and job satisfaction.
Learn about the four main types of high-impact career:
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Part 3: Which jobs put you in the best position for the future?
Answer: Especially early in your career, take options that will give you flexible career capital – skills, connections and credentials that will be useful in many different jobs. Examples include mathematical graduate studies, consulting, and learning to program. Be careful with humanities PhDs, charity jobs and vocational qualifications.
Get a list of ways to put yourself in a better position:
Part 4: What’s the right career for you?
Answer: Don’t expect to figure out what you’re best at right away. Instead, go investigate: speak to people to learn more, and try out your best options. Then to avoid common decision-making mistakes, use a systematic process to make your final decision.
Learn how to narrow down your options:
Part 5: How to plan your career?
Answer: Rather than try to pinpoint the single best option, accept that your plan is likely to change. Write out a flexible plan, which includes nearby alternative options and a backup if your plans don’t work out.
Learn how to make a flexible, A/B/Z career plan.
Part 6: What’s the best way to get a job?
Answer: Don’t just send out your CV in response to job listing. Get leads through your connections, and prove that you can do the work by actually doing some. When you get an offer, negotiate.
See our summary of all the best advice on how to get the job you want (and see the conclusion of the career guide):
The end:Work out what to do with your life
This tool helps you apply all the ideas, and make your plan. Once you’ve done this, you’ve mastered the guide.
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What’s next?:Don’t go it alone
Perhaps the most powerful thing you can do to have more impact is to meet others doing the same. Once you’ve read our guide, there’s thousands of people in our community who want to help you succeed. Here’s some ways to get involved.
Or if you’d like to read more, we have plenty more research – we admire your stamina!