The 7 Ps

In the past year I’ve had a number of career chats with friends who were considering different job options or paths. Traditionally people frame their job search in terms of industry and job description. But thinking about the three “careers” I’ve had — finance in NYC, consulting in China and now energy in London — I keep finding the ‘industry/job description’ framework both too specific and too limiting.

Instead, I found seven fundamental things that have determined whether my friends and I love our jobs or not. The seven things that matter most, I think, when deciding a job or career. I call them the “7 Ps“:

  1. Place : Where geographically do you want to work? The city/country you are based in and your commute affect how you spend your time, and who you spend your time with, both inside and outside work.
  2. People : Who specifically would you work with on a daily basis? Do you like them? Does your boss care about you and want to see you succeed?
  3. Pay : Does the job or sector pay you enough to live the life you want? If not, will your pay will increase in a few years in this career path? Or, are you happy to change your lifestyle to accommodate a lower salary?
  4. Progression : Will you develop skills, knowledge, a network or a reputation that will help you move forward in your career?
  5. Perception : How do people react when you tell them what you do? Whose opinion do you really care about, and how important is that to you? (Of course perceptions of jobs and industries change over time. As a case in point: almost nobody outside finance had heard of Lehman Brothers when I started there in 2001… )
  6. Purpose : What is the company or organisation trying to achieve, and do you support that? It’s not just millennials that want to work on something they believe in.
  7. Procedures : The last P, the one I always forget but that most traditional job searches start with : what do you actually do in the job? Are you spending your day on the phone, or sitting reading stacks of paper, or crunching Excel, or standing on your feet in front of 25 teenagers? And do you like doing those things?

I don’t know many people who ever get all 7 at once in one job.

And the weighting of the 7 Ps varies over time. Perception and Purpose may matter more while you are starting out, while Pay and Place may matter more when you are starting a family for instance. But all are worth considering at any stage.

Happy to hear your comments on my 7 Ps — and of course, any Qs!