Why a Career Check-up?
Those of us who do what we should have annual physical check-ups. People who practice preventative health care are much healthier. We take our cars for their regularly scheduled maintenance milestones. Our cars last longer, drive better and have higher resale values. Regular house maintenance (how many of us have given our houses great makeovers when we’re selling them?) leads to fewer crises and higher sales prices. But how many of us do that with our careers? Most of us get an annual review for our job, but what about our careers? A job is a role that you play, specific functions you perform. A career is a professional or work life, a broader view, transportable, beyond your current employer, beyong your current job. Transportable. In today’s economy, transportable is priceless.
Where are you on the your career continuum? Where on you compared to where you want to be? In terms of time–how long have you worked? How much longer will you work? Are you 1/3 done? Are you 1/2 done? Between now and what is left, what do you want to accomplish? As you look at where you are, what do you need to move your career along as fast as you need to in order to get to where you want?
Now look at where you are in terms of what level you want to be? If you are a Director now, do you want to be C-level? Do you want to have your own business? Do you want to move into another field? Do you want to accelerate how much money you’re making? Are you moving as fast as you want to? Are you being considered for the types of positions you should be to get to the level you want?
What’s Going On Now?
Look at what’s going on at your current organization WITH CLEAR EYES:
- Are You Valued?
- Do You Think Your Company Has the Right Direction?
- Do You Trust Your Organization’s Leadership?
- Are There Growth Opportunities?
- Is There Enough Challenge?
- Is This Work What You Thought It Would Be?
- Do You Fit in the Culture?
- Is This Meaningful for You?
- Are You Motivated at Work?
- Do You Make Enough Money?
- Is This the Right Work-Life Balance for You?
Depending on the answers, you need to decide whether your current organization is the right place for you to accelerate your trajectory pace. If not, face it now. That doesn’t mean you need to move now–it means that you need to get ready to move. (It took me six years to get ready for my next step beyond an organization I truly loved–but once I saw that I needed to go, my focus changed to the next step rather than continuing to stay in an organization that couldn’t deliver my end-state for me).
Start Working on What it Will Take
The more specific you can be in understanding what you need to know, do and be in order to reach your goal, the better you can prepare to do it. If, for example, you are a Director and you want to be C-level, you may need to be much more financially literate than you are now. You may have to be able to see the big picture better and pull yourself out of your detail focus. If you are a Project Manger and you want to be a Program Manager, you may need to know how to understand enterprise-level governance of projects and programs.
How Do You Figure This Out?
Look at People Who Do What You Want to Do:
- What Do They KNOW?
- What Can They Do?
- What Are They Like?
- What is Their “Brand?”
I can rarely persuade people to actually do informational interviews until they are looking for jobs, and usually even then, they are out of a job before they’ll do it. It is an incredibly helpful tool for a career check-up. It helps you to understand what it takes to get to the level you want when you talk to people who’ve done it.
- What do they wish they had known when they were at your level?
- What is the most important skill at their level?
- What was hardest to learn/do?
- What would they do differently?
- What advice do they have for you?
You walk away with a perspective on what you need to know/do/be. You are also likely to walk away with an advocate who may start looking out for you.
Create a Project Plan
You know how to do this:
- Set your goals
- Identify your critical path tasks
- Identify the resources
- Set your timeline
- Do a kick-off