When was the last time you took a good look at your career health? If you are like most people, it’s been a while!
A career health check-up is a smart thing to do. We know we should do it just like we know we should schedule that annual physical we keep putting off. Like an annual physical, a career check-up involves doing some “tests,” looking at specific areas, taking measure of benchmarks, and looking for red flags that could be signs of more serious problems.
Take a look inside
Call it a career mental health check up – it’s a good idea to periodically ask yourself how you feel about your job. These questions will help. I recommend carving out a few minutes to write down your answers and keep them in a journal you will use over time. Doing this will allow you to go back and reflect on patterns and changes you’ll want to track. As you consider your response, go with your first gut instinct and use your own language. (I’ve provided a few reactions just to get you started.)
- When I wake up on most work days, I feel…(ready to dive in, excited, anxious, dread, etc.)
- In general, my co-workers are… (fun, friendly, annoying, incompetent, etc.)
- On most days, I would rate my performance as…(great, fine, adequate, poor, etc.)
- I would describe my relationship with my immediate supervisor as…(good, okay, not so great, etc.)
- The one thing that I would change about my work is…
Career Health Benchmarks
Now that you’ve done a “check up from the neck up,” there are a few specific external measures you’ll want to look at on a regular basis (at least annually) to determine your relative career “health.” To identify potential red flags, consider these areas:
- Performance Review – How was it? If it was anything less than great, you should ask for clear direction on what you can do to improve. If you haven’t had a review in the last year, ask for one and keep asking until you get it. Failure to provide a review is lazy, and it could be a warning sign that there are things your supervisor needs to bring to your attention. You want to – you deserve to – know how you are doing, even if the news is difficult.
- Resume – Is it up to date? Does it accurately reflect what you are doing right now? Have you included tangible accomplishments? A current resume that you can pull out at a moment’s notice is a healthy career practice.
- Development – Are you growing in your role? Do you get assignments that help you build new skills? Is your company investing in your professional growth? Would you say that your skills are current in your field?
- Professional Network – Are you making time to meet others who do what you do and people in positions of influence in your organization and industry? This means belonging to professional associations, going to conferences and meetings and otherwise staying up to date and connected in your industry. Another must-have on this measure is an up-to-date LinkedIn profile and connections.
How’d you do? If you are like most of us, there may be some areas you want to address. If you need help, let me know!