Your career reboot checklist
If you could change anything about your career, what would that be? Do you know what you’d like to do next?
These questions can be surprisingly difficult to answer, especially the second one.
People often have a vague feeling they need a change, but they don’t know how to drill down to what bothers them and so they do nothing.
Sometimes they look for a quick answer by changing jobs and end up surprised the grass really isn’t greener elsewhere.
Being passive and acting on impulse are equally rarely good for you, so here are the most important career criteria to help you figure out what matters.
Current job satisfaction
Put simply, this is about being happy or unhappy doing the work that you do.
How do you feel about going to work after the weekend? Which parts of your job do you enjoy the most? Which parts do you enjoy the least?
Liz Sebag-Montefiore, career coach at HR consultancy 10Eighty, suggests you review the last 12 months to decide what you most enjoyed doing so that you can arrange to do more of the same.
’Give the same consideration to what caused you frustration and irritation, aiming to minimise those particular aspects,’ says Sebag-Montefiore.
Also – is what you do at work aligned with your personal values? If so, this will make it easier for you to reject other, potentially bad career choices that could have a negative impact on your personal integrity.
Are your goals the same as they were 12 months ago? Will your current job get you to where you want to be?
Sebag-Montefiore believes a clear line of sight on your goals and a plan of how to achieve them is strongly linked to (and can improve) your job satisfaction.
‘If you don’t already have one, then write a plan of action for the next 12 to 18 months and identify any support your employer may be able to provide so that you can accomplish these goals,’ she says.
Andi Lonnen FCCA, chief executive of Finance Training Academy, points out that you should also refer to ACCA’s practical experience requirement to decide where you need to focus your efforts next.
Do you have the skills that will help you reach those goals?
‘Decide which skills are crucial and how you can develop them further – plan to spend as much time as possible using and building up those skills,’ says Sebag-Montefiore.
On a slightly different note – do you think you would find it easy to get another job?
‘Always plan ahead and seek to build the skills you will need to secure future roles, fill gaps in your knowledge and build expertise so that you are a stand-out candidate when you are ready to move,’ says Sebag-Montefiore.
Will you be able to reach your goals while remaining with your current employer? How do your growth plans fit in with their growth plans? Are there any threats on the horizon – for example, restructuring?
Jenn Fenwick, career coach at Rebel Road Coaching, says: ‘Look at where your organisation is going, as well as at their potential future priorities and key challenges. How can you position yourself to help and to grow at the same time?’
Lonnen suggest that you carry out a personal SWOT analysis to discover which of your natural skills (strengths) can add most value when aligned with the Os (opportunities) presented by your employer.
Your employer’s growth can make secondments possible too.
‘But if secondments are not realistic, then perhaps job shadowing is – learning about what others do is also a valuable experience,’ says Lonnen.
What is your relationship with your line manager like? What about your relationship with your colleagues? Do these relationships need improving in any way? Would you benefit if you were better at managing your boundaries?
But also – can your work colleagues help you reach your career goals?
Fenwick says: ‘Look around you for role models and mentors – identify people who not only inspire you but also challenge you.’
Your professional network
When it comes to inspiration, why not reach out to your wider network of contacts?
‘Identify someone who you aspire to be like on LinkedIn, either in the same or different industry, and see if they would be willing to engage in some remote mentoring to help you get ahead,’ says Sebag-Montefiore.
She also recommends that you review and segment your LinkedIn network so that you can target your networking activities more efficiently.
‘Also ensure that your 50 key contacts are on message with your plans and aspirations,’ she adds.
Your personal brand
Reviewing your LinkedIn profile, as well as your skills and endorsements, is a must.
Sebag-Montefiore says: ‘Make sure the endorsements are appropriate and align with what you are telling your network about your career priorities.’
Ask for feedback at work too – how do others perceive you and what you do? Is there anything they think you should change or work on?
‘Genuine feedback enables deeper self-awareness and encourages the achievement of personal and professional goals,’ points out Sebag-Montefiore.
Family and other personal considerations
How does your present career affect your life outside of work?
Lonnen says: ‘Some people thrive on working seven days a week; others want plenty of time for other things in their life. You need to know what is acceptable to you – balance is a personal choice for everyone.’
Any career plans you make should be aligned with your life plans too.
‘Consider what kind of flexibility and support your current employer would offer as and when the various life events happen,’ says Lonnen.
This is all a lot to take in. So how do you decide on your next move?
Fenwick suggests scoring each of the above areas from 1 to 10, giving 10 to the one you are most content with at the moment, and so on: ‘This is a really quick way to see what is going well and what you need to focus your time and energy on.
‘Next ask yourself why you are allocating those particular scores,’ she adds. What would it take to increase a score? How can you make these things happen and in what timescale? Who can help you?
Write all these points down and you’ll have a career reboot checklist to work from.
Lonnen recommends another great help tool – the Goals Grid, which is about whether you already have something and whether you want it:
- Don’t have it, don’t want it – AVOID (for example, you avoid making any changes that will result in a long commute)
- Have it, don’t want it – ELIMINATE (so you will want to make changes that will eliminate your present long commute or working weekends)
- Have it, want it – PRESERVE (great colleagues, plenty of professional development opportunities, etc)
- Don’t have it, want it – ACHIEVE (plan to work towards a promotion or a pay-rise, for example)
Author: Iwona Tokc-Wilde, journalist
This article was first published in Student Accountant in June 2021