How to do a quick career checkup

Posted on September 1st, by Dr Rob Yeung .

It’s worth doing a quick checkup on your career every now and again. Perhaps you have just had a long holiday and a relatively quiet period at work. Or maybe you have had the opposite – a very busy or even stressful period at work. Whenever you feel as if you have either fallen into a rut or need to check how things are going, here are a few quick steps you can take:

1. Check up on your social media presence
This action shouldn’t take you long.

People in different industries and sectors probably need to use social media in different ways. For example, many professionals find LinkedIn useful. Some find Twitter useful. Others may find Instagram, Snapchat or others vital.

Whatever you use, when was the last time you checked your social media profiles to ensure that your descriptions and images are still correct and up to date? For example, I sometimes come across people who are still mentioning old jobs as their ‘current’ employment. Or, occasionally, people’s interests and career directions have changed – but they haven’t mentioned these new facets of themselves online. Don’t let that be you.

2. Check in on your values and priorities
People change over time. As people get older, have families, split from partners and experience other life events, they often decide that different goals, passions or interests matter to them.

For example, one of my clients decided for several years that spending time with her young family was a major priority for her. But when the children got a little bit older, she decided that she wanted to push for a bigger job. Another client lost his partner – they had been together for over 25 years – and decided that he wanted to slow down and focus more on his broader goals outside of work.

So take a little time to review what matters to you right now. Perhaps look at recent photos and let your mind wander. Go for a walk. Or just sit and think. And decide: what do you want from your career and your life over the next six months to several years?

3. Think back to recent obstacles and frustrations
What difficulties or problems have you experienced in recent months? What has been causing you the most stress or irritation?

It’s worth thinking about recent barriers or other issues. Perhaps these are to do with your boss or colleagues. Or they are to do with family or your home life in some way. Reflecting back on obstacles and frustrations may highlight further actions you need to take in the months to come.

4. Check out threats, opportunities and your current environment
Steps 2 and 3 are about checking what you want. But what’s going on in the world around you?

For example, it’s all very well to want to grow your business or chase a promotion. But if the economy is hitting a downturn or the company where you work is making people redundant, you need to factor these issues into your decision making. Or perhaps there are opportunities that are present right now that may not have been available before.

Sometimes people go wrong by focusing only on steps 2 and 3 (i.e. what they want). But realistic people also think about likely near-term obstacles as well as opportunities.

5. Decide on a simple action plan
Finally, write down a short list of actions that you can take over the next few months. Do you perhaps need to develop your skills or knowledge? Perhaps that’s by reading books or signing up for a course or qualification. Do you need to network more and have more conversations with prospective employers or clients? Maybe your definition of success is about something else entirely.

At this stage, this doesn’t have to be a detailed plan. Just write down the handful of broad actions you think you need to take. And then commit to revisiting your plan to flesh out your goals in the near future.

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