In short, get a position at a top 1% company, regardless of the salary or specific role offered.
Optimize for these:
- Network: Optimize for who you work with and who is in their network (founders, partners, investors, advisors). If you're in tech, move to Silicon Valley or New York.
- Market & Growth Rate: Early in your career, the market trend you ride may be the biggest future determinant for your success. Join a rapidly growing industry with a company that is still run by its founders.
- Optionality: Develop a skill set that allows you to switch to different positions in the future.
- Brand: You need 1 or 2 top-tier brands on your resume. People will automatically assume you’re skilled. Example: Go to MIT and then work at Google.
These don’t matter very much:
- Role: It’s better to be in a decent position at a great company than a great position at a decent company.
- Compensation: Salary is the least important factor. Equity only matters at great companies—equity from a poor company could be worthless.
I recommend reading Elad Gil's original article.