Career Reflection: Staying Prepared for your Next Step
How often do you reflect on your career? While some may fail to see the value in regularly evaluating their career path, I’d suggest you consider the benefits of doing it twice per year. There are two special times of year to perform a career reflection: the Fourth of July and New Year’s Day. These two easily remembered dates are approximately six months apart, and most employees have time off from work for them.
What should you think about when reflecting on your career? Ask yourself whether you achieved your goals over the last six months — and if you haven’t, ask what can you learn from that.
This is a good time to put an entry in your calendar for six months from now. Create goals for the next six months and write them in your calendar.
You don’t necessarily need to wait for these dates. At this very moment, you can reflect on the last six months and perform a quality examination of the state of your career:
- What did you accomplish? Make note of quantifiable accomplishments.
- What new skills did you acquire? What can you do now that you could not do six months ago?
- What did you learn about yourself? This is a great time to take notice of what is important in our lives. It is easy to focus on others and not ourselves.
Spend some time and clearly document your accomplishments, new skills, and the lessons you learned. File this away to be reviewed on the date you have scheduled six months from now.
Once you have completed your career reflection, it is time to update your LinkedIn profile and your resume. Updating your LinkedIn profile and resume should be a regular habit. You never know what will happen in the next six months. Besides, you want to be a good passive candidate with updated information in your LinkedIn profile.
Who do you want to work for next? What do you want to be doing six months from now? This does not mean you will be changing jobs, but you want to be ready, should the opportunity arise or your needs change.
Spend time researching perspective companies, as well as your connections into those companies. Who do you know, or who can make an introduction to a strategic individual? When you meet a strategic connection (this could be one of your goals), you will be asking for advice, insight, and recommendations.
If you have been in your position over two years, you should actively work your target list of preferred employers. With the median duration of employment at just over five years, you should plan on staying in a job less than that and allow eighteen months for a passive job search.
If you are willing to perform a career reflection exercise twice a year, document your results, and update your resume, LinkedIn profile, and target list, you will always be ready for the next step in your career.