Developing Your Career

Developing Your Career

‘Tis the Season for a Career Checkup

By Greg Simpson on December 3, 2013

Turning the calendar over to a new year offers the promise of a fresh start.  At year’s end, will you be celebrating your workplace victories or ruefully questioning the career choices you made over the past 12 months? Taking stock of your career progress every year ensures you’re headed in the right direction with the right organization.  And if you’re not, the close of a new year is the ideal time to make the necessary corrections and put a revamped plan in motion. 

An annual career checkup is critical to the health and vitality of your career.  Acting as your own career coach, it’s easy to perform a self checkup that will evaluate the health of your career on several levels: career management, knowledge and skills; the viability of your profession and current industry; the fiscal and cultural future of your employer; and the opportunities for upward or lateral mobility within your current organization.

Here are seven tips for conducting a thorough career checkup:

  1. Know your market. Determine the viability of your industry and profession by researching occupational projections through the Bureau of Labor Statistics website, conducting Internet searches for recent articles, and reading industry- and job-specific discussions posted on social media.
  2. Assess the value of your skills. Make a list of the skills and knowledge you’ve accumulated over the past year.  Based on your research, what skills will be most valuable in the future?  Is your career at risk due to advancements in technology, increased outsourcing, etc.?  What other skills will you need to maintain your marketability and how can you attain them?
  3. Update your resume. Review and update your resume.  Include responsibilities, accomplishments, awards and any additional education – whether continuing, formal, or organizational development – as well as any other pertinent information from the last year.
  4. Refresh social media profiles.  Update your summary, job description, accomplishments and professional affiliations to make sure they reflect your most recent career activities.  Also identify additional groups to join – with the intention of becoming a contributing member and expanding your influence.
  5. Get a second opinion.  Discuss the progress of your career with a mentor, professional colleague or supervisor.  Solicit honest feedback on your skills and development needs.  Network through these contacts for possible informational interviews.
  6. Jumpstart networking.  Send short, personalized New Year’s greetings to your networking contacts via social media.  Thank contacts who helped you over the past year, update them with your current job status, and extend your own offer of assistance.
  7. Develop an action plan.  Review what you’ve learned and develop a strategy for the upcoming year.  This could include a lateral move, a career change, enrichment in your current position, the desire for a promotion, or a search for another position.

If your career has drifted off course – it’s time to take control.  As Oprah Winfrey puts it, “Cheers to a New Year and another chance for us to get it right.”  And a career checkup is the perfect place to start.

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