Find work you enjoy that makes a big difference

We’ve done thousands of hours of research into how to choose a career that makes a difference. We’ve compressed our key findings down into this career guide.

Advice we won’t give you

If you want a meaningful career, it can be difficult to get help. Most career advice focusses on CV building and interviews. And what about the advice that does focus on doing something meaningful? Unfortunately, we’ve found some of the most common slogans are contradicted by the results of our research. Here’s some advice we won’t give you:

  1. Work at a charity
    Charity jobs are what normally come to mind when we think about making a difference, and they can be a great path for some. But they may not be a good fit for your skills, and there are plenty of options that might have an even bigger impact in business, politics, research, the media or elsewhere.
  2. Follow your passion
    But the chances are that following your passion will end in failure. And this advice ignores decades of psychological research, which shows that you’ll develop passion by getting good at something meaningful.
  3. Realise your calling
    If you think hard enough about what you really value, maybe you’ll discover your calling in a flash of insight? But it’s hard to work out which jobs you’ll be best at in advance, and building a good career requires constant learning. Looking inward to figure out your “calling” is a road to nowhere.
  4. Go with your gut
    While gut instincts can be good for some types of decisions, there’s plenty of research suggesting they won’t lead to good, long-term career decisions. The world is complex and constantly changing, and gut instincts struggle to keep up.
  5. Just do it
    It’s often suggested that the key to having a good career is simply mustering the courage to take that bold first step. But if you start out on the wrong path, you could waste years of effort. Some ways of making a difference are much more effective than others, and some options put you in a better position than others. More important than courage is having the right strategies at your disposal.

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Chapter 1: Our framework