Benefits of Conducting a Career Audit
In the last months of the year, many individuals start thinking about the New Year and go about setting their career goals — what they want to accomplish personally and professionally.
But how is your career doing today, months before the end of the year?
When was the last time you took a serious look at your career direction?
Where are you now?
Where do you want to be? Not sure?
Before you can set goals or achieve anything in your business or your life, you have to understand what really drives you. What is it that gets you up in the morning when all you want to do is roll over and go back to sleep? What keeps you going, even when you want to give up?
Your “why” is personal. It’s yours alone, and no two why’s are exactly alike. More importantly, there’s no right or wrong “why.”
Once you know what drives you, every decision becomes easier, so before you start setting goals for next year, spend some time thinking about why you do what you do.
As an executive, you know that being proactive is a must in this fast-moving world. And many executives are just too wrapped up in the day-to-day of their job to take a pulse reading of where they are in their own career.
Answer yes to these statements and you may need a career direction evaluation:
• Your job lacks challenge and excitement for you.
• You are feeling unappreciated.
• Your promotional and/or development opportunities are limited.
• You are no longer having fun.
• Learning is replaced with routine.
• You sense that your skills and talents are being wasted.
• You are suffering from stress or depression.
Year after year, “getting a better job” has ranked in the top 10 of New Year’s resolutions (ranked 8th place for 2015 and 2014), making this time of the year one of the best times to do a career audit to assess your current and target position.
Executives often take on the burden of having to know all and be all and lose themselves in that thinking. However, today senior management is stretched beyond their capabilities at times causing one or more of the statements above to be true.
3 Steps to Kick Start Your Career Audit
1. Start with a career action plan. Yes, you may already have one, but if it is dated or not working for you, it may need some revisions or a fresh approach in a new direction.
2. Assessments or personality inventory may be helpful as tools to help you discover your strengths, preferred way of working, people relations and commonalities, etc.
3. Work with a career coach who can be extremely helpful in supporting you through this process. Coaches are perfect sounding boards for brainstorming ideas, formulating a strategy, and creating steps to help you implement it.
What About a Job Search Audit?
While you’re conducting a career audit, take the time to audit your job search strategies as well.
Are you using outdated or generic job boards and hoping for a decent return?
If so, you will likely be very disappointed.
“There are a lot of jobs out there that never even hit a job posting. So if you’re relying a lot on that you’re cutting yourself off from a lot of opportunities right off the bat.”
Also, when’s the last time to you audited your references?
Sometimes issues arise with references that shifts hiring managers’ mindsets away from scheduling a second interview with you or sending you a job offer.
Career Planning For You
This is not about setting New Year’s resolutions. It’s about goals. It’s about dreaming about what you want your life to be like and putting plans into place to make it happen. Resolutions seem to fade with time. By February, they’re usually forgotten. Goals, if you articulate them, get stronger over time.
Goal-setting is critical. Research shows when you write down your goals, you’re more likely to achieve them. Dr. Gail Matthews, a psychology professor at Dominican University in California, conducted a study on goal-setting with 267 participants. Her research found you are 42 percent more likely to achieve your goals just by writing them down.
Goals give you a destination so you can choose your path. Only when you know where you are going can you decide how to get there. Goals get you into action, keep you on track, and allow you to measure your progress.
But before you can set your future path, it helps to look at where you’ve been. The first step is an assessment.
You have very likely accomplished a lot in the past 12 months, even if some days it doesn’t feel like it. These exercises will help you assess your accomplishments — both professionally and personally. You don’t have to do every exercise, but the more of them that you complete, the more you’ll get out of this!
Answer the questions on the worksheets on the following pages. Really take some time to complete the exercises. Set aside time — either each day for a couple of days in a row, or a block of time in one day — to spend on this. It’s important. If you don’t stop and think about these things, life will just happen … but it may not be the life you want.
Looking Forward — Professionally
Answer these questions.
What do I want most in the new year?
What is my favorite thing about my job?
What do I want to be different next year? What do I want to do better?
What do I want to be doing more of in my job/career?
What don’t I want to be doing in my job/career?
Am I spending time on the things that will take me where I want to go in my career?
What do I want to be known for? (What do I want people to think of when they think of me?)
What is the biggest goal I want to achieve next year?
What is my #1 priority (professionally) for next year?
What do I want the “theme” of my job/career to be next year?
Do I have a “word” that will guide me next year?
How much money do I want to make next year?
How can I make next year my best year ever?
How will I improve my work-related skills in the new year?
What new habits do I want to develop next year?
How can I be more productive/effective in my job next year?
What do I need to improve or create in order to reach my goal?
What advice would I give myself for next year?
Exercise: My Time Machine
If I was magically transported to one year from today, what do I wish my life looked like? What would be different?
Exercise: Imagining The Future
If I had everything I ever wanted, what would that look like?
Now that you know what you want your business and your life to look like, and more importantly, why, it’s time to set some goals to help you get there.
When setting your goals, keep the S.M.A.R.T. model in mind. Goals should be:
For example, you might set a goal to lose 20 pounds in ____, or increase your income by $10,000 in the next 12 months.
While “SMART” goals are safe and expected, there’s something to be said for dreaming big, too. There’s no reason you can’t go from making $37,000 to $70,000 in one year.
Try setting at least one goal in each of these areas, and don’t be afraid to dream big!
Family & Relationships
Charity & Volunteer Work
Exercise: My Perfect Day
What would a perfect day in my “ideal” life (personal and business) look like? Who, what, when, where, and why?
The Planning Process
What do I need? (What kind of support do I need — people or things — to achieve my goal?)
What’s missing from my business and life that will help me achieve my goals?
How can I improve my career in the next year?
The First Step
What is the next step to make my goals happen? What is the FIRST thing I need to do?
What are my top three priorities?
What one thing am I going to focus on in the next 30 days to get me closer to my overall goal?
What “small win” can I start with to get me on the path to success in the new year?
What are the “rest” of the steps I need to take to reach my biggest goal?
To make your annual career planning process easier next year, set yourself up right from the start.
1. Create an accomplishments journal. This can be as simple as a Google calendar or an Evernote notebook with a new note for each day or week. Spend a couple of minutes at the end of every day and jot down anything you might want to remember later.
2. Create a brag book/brag file. Here is where you’ll record all the good stuff. Glowing emails from clients and co-workers, exceptional performance reviews, and even particularly flattering photos should be saved and pulled out whenever you need a pick-me-up.
There are lots of ways to build this file, but don’t be afraid to get creative. A fun scrapbook with plenty of colors will lift your spirits every time you see it. Or do it digitally with a private Pinterest board.
3. Answer the above questions and put this special report somewhere prominent. You’ll want to be able to see your progress throughout the year. Don’t do the exercises and then file them away!