Every January, people make resolutions to help direct their lives in the coming year. If any of your resolutions will involve your career, then December is the right time to take stock of how things have gone over the past 12 months.
Your Career in Review
Your career evaluation should encompass your long and short-term goals, what you have achieved this year, and how you can continue to move these goals forward. Regularly evaluating your career helps prevent stagnation and keeps you on track.
“One of the primary advantages of [an evaluation],” says Indeed, “is that you constantly have the opportunity to make slight improvements that can get you closer to your short- and long-term goals. Asking yourself questions regarding your career path can also help you determine if your current line of work is appropriate for your overall professional aspirations.”
What to Evaluate
Monster recommends beginning your evaluation with a brief self-assessment. Did you accomplish any/some/all of your career goals? Did you sharpen your skills or learn new skills? Has your career advanced the way you had hoped? If not, why not? Is there anything you wish you had done differently? Recognizing your mistakes enables you to make changes to avoid repeating them.
“Broadly speaking,” notes Forbes, “you want to figure out if you are heading in the right direction, continually learning and being intellectually challenged, earning the most you can and contributing value and feeling a sense of purpose.”
Making Plans for the Future
An evaluation should help you understand the career path you’ve led so far and where you want to direct it in the future. The next step is to plan how you will reach those goals. Break them down into smaller steps you can work toward incrementally over the next 12 months.
Part of your self-evaluation should focus on improving performance. Your employer may be able to offer training, mentoring or guidance to facilitate these improvements.
“Talk to your manager about meeting monthly to review your performance on an ongoing basis,” recommends Indeed. “Not only will this demonstrate to them that you're being proactive in improving your performance in the workplace, but it will also provide regular accountability and feedback, which can have a big impact on your overall performance.”
Refining Your Career Strategy
While a career assessment can help you refine your strategy for success, it also may help you realize where you are not succeeding, and why not. What do you need to do to get back on track? Have your career aspirations changed so dramatically that you need to switch tracks? Can you make those changes in your current role, or within your current organization? You may decide that growth can only occur with a different organization – or even in a different line of work. And that’s OK!