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Career Planning, Make a Plan, Rising Professionals

Preferences, Qualifications, and Opportunities

Job candidates often have definite ideas about what they are seeking in their next role: a specific salary range or geographic location, part-time or remote work, or a better work/life balance.

Clear preferences help candidates find the best fit; however, there’s a fine balance between preferences, qualifications, and available opportunities. Envisioning each of these areas as a circle in a Venn diagram, a change in one of these areas can affect job search outcomes.  Job seekers should focus on that “sweet spot” where the three circles converge: the right balance of preferences, qualifications and opportunities.


Preferences should be realistic given the job requirements, the local market, and the candidate’s experience and qualifications. Candidates should carefully research industry norms, the local market, and their target employers to learn the salary range, other benefits/perks, and the corporate culture of target companies. This research helps them develop realistic preferences and criteria for identifying suitable roles and negotiating offers.


Candidates also need to know the expected qualifications for their field and assess how their qualification measure against a job’s requirements, as well as the competition. Exceeding basic qualifications or having a specialized skillset places candidates in a better bargaining position. Falling below the baseline qualifications mark can prolong a job search. Candidates who have fewer qualifications may need to be more flexible with their preferences to find available opportunities.


When there are fewer opportunities, competition for existing roles increases. This often leads to a more highly qualified applicant pool. Candidates may need to exceed the qualifications they comfortably met elsewhere or be more flexible with their preferences.  When there are more opportunities, they can be choosier.

If candidates are aware of this balance, they can recalibrate and be ready to adjust as needed to reach the best possible outcome.