According to Gallup 51% of the U.S. workforce is actively seeking other employment, which means lots of people are feeling dissatisfied at work.
Recently I had lunch with an old colleague, let’s call her Wanda. She has been with her company for 19+ years and even though she survived numerous reorgs and workforce reductions over the last 4 years Wanda wanted to start preparing for what might be next. That was the big question for her though, what was next? And that was the scary part, she wasn’t sure. Sound familiar?
What got me excited was when Wanda told me she was starting to do a career audit. So few people take the initiative to really assess what it is that they want. Too many times I hear from folks that saw the writing on the wall, but chose to ignore it because they didn’t know where to start a job search. Or they choose to suffer because the devil they know is better than the one they don’t.
This is where doing a career audit and personal brand audit can help. Like Wanda was experiencing, thinking about a job change can be a scary thing, especially if you’ve been in a role (or company) for a long time.
The best time to conduct a career audit is whenever there is a significant change in your organization – a new CEO comes in, your company gets acquired, a reorganization occurs or you get a new manager. Or, like Wanda, you feel that it may be time for a change.
Here is what you can do to begin your career audit.
- Review your positions/roles: Start with your current position and ask yourself, what do I like and dislike about my job? If I could change anything what would that be? What led me to this role? Where do I think this role is going in the future and will that help or hinder me?
- Review your skills and strengths: Do the skills you use in your job come easy for you? Too easy? Are they skills you enjoy? Just because you are good at something doesn’t mean you enjoy it. What is it that you do best? Are you able to do that in your current position? What motivates you? What skills do I need to improve or obtain to get where I want to be?
- Review your work environment: You spend 40+ hours a week at work so you might as well enjoy it right? Do you enjoy the people you work with? Is your commute tolerable? Is the culture conducive to collaboration and growth?
- Review your compensation: Do you feel you’re being paid fairly for the job you’re doing? Do some research to make sure if your perceptions are right or not. And, if you’re not being paid fairly, is there something that can be done about it? Simply demanding more pay doesn’t get you more money, nor does using a counteroffer to prompt your employer to do something. You will have to prove yourself with both data and action.
- Review your health: A toxic work environment can take a toll on your body and affect your life outside of work, too. Are you getting enough exercise? Are you eating high-quality food? Are you able to enjoy a social life without feeling tied to work all the time? Are your personal relationships flourishing or deteriorating?
Once you go through this audit you’ll have the foundation of what you want out of your career. Then it becomes much easier to see if the only way up is out. You may also discover something you’ve always enjoyed about work, but perhaps isn’t as much of your current role as you would like. That may lead you to pursue a position you’re more excited about on a daily basis.
As I told Wanda when she expressed concern about there not being a job that would fit her unique set of skills, start talking to people. Ask questions about possibilities of your ideal role if you think it doesn’t exist. Talk to people that are in the role you’d like to be. How did they get there?
A career audit is certainly not an easy task to do, but it will be well worth the effort if you take the time and dig deep.