This is a regular activity that all of us in our professional lives should do. It is plain and simple common sense. A couple of years into any job and we get into a rut. We keep doing the same thing over and over again without pausing to think or reflect. Our jobs may be stable and may also pay us well. Our professional life may seem to move like a well oiled machine. You may actually be having a good time. But every 3-4 years one needs to sit back and do career health check.
By this, is meant that one should just sit back, and take a hard and critical look at the way our careers is shaping up. By doing this we achieve a couple of things. First we need to see where we are currently in our career and where we intend to go in the next 5 or 10 years. Are we on track for this? Are we well networked in our office? Have we acquired the skills necessary if and when we get the promotion.
On the other hand we also need to look at some really dark scenarios and see how we would fare if they should occur. For example what if you were to get laid off, fired or just had to relocate to another city. If you had to look for another job tomorrow what are your chances of you getting the job you desire, with the kind of salary you want. How long will it take to get another job? This is a very important exercise and we need to do this periodically in our professional lives.
The issue is we generally get comfy with our lives, and assume that things will continue to bright and sunny for years to come. We get into a rut and start drifting around. It may also so happen that your current job is very niche and there are very few organizations in the world which require such skills. While you may be important in your current organization what would happen if your organization ran into issues and you had to look for another job. It is possible that you are doing something that is obsolete but is required in your organization. It may be highly valued skill in your organization and you may be getting well paid. But outside your organization it may be absolutely useless. It is here that one needs to make a proper objective view of one’s situation and take pro-active action and try to learn up new skills. We need to prepare ourselves for any eventuality. One could some learn some other technologies and pick up on new skills. One needs to enroll in courses and make sure that one is up to date with the requirements of the industry.
Another very important exercise to do along with this is to continue to network with other friends in the industry and learn the key developments in the last couple of years. Friends are a great source of information and can keep you abreast of the happenings. This will let you know which areas you need to work on.
While this is common sense most of us ignore the signs and we start to get desperate when things go out of control. We need to constantly monitor our progress in our career and make mid-course corrections and adjustments as we move along in our professional lives.
This will prepare us for any eventuality and keep us sailing smoothly in our careers.