Every day at your job isn’t going to be fun, but being happy at your job is the greatest gift you can give yourself. An annual self-assessment can help you figure out whether you’re progressing in your career or it’s time to change direction.
“You should constantly assess whether to stay in your current company and position or look elsewhere,” says Mary Delaney, CareerBuilder's President of Recruitment Software Solutions. “You have to constantly be aware of what the opportunities are within your own company to move up versus the opportunities on the outside.”
Think about what you want to do and your career aspirations. There are many reasons why you may want a change. “There are going to be good and bad days, but you have to be honest about what gets you energized and keeps you engaged,” says Paul Wolfe, senior vice president of Human Resources at career website Indeed.com.
Review your career at least once a year. “Do this at least one month before your performance review so that you’re already on top of what you want to ask of your manager,” says Scott Dobroski, community expert at Glassdoor. “If your company doesn’t give performance reviews, that’s when you want to take it upon yourself to do this every six months or once a year.”
Experts provide questions to consider during this process.
Do you feel stagnant or frustrated at your job?
There’s a difference between the two, says Dobroski. “You can feel frustrated at your boss, tasks or company because you can love your career but really hate where you’re working.” In this case, finding a similar position at a different company is a great option.
“If you’re feeling stagnant in your job or career, then you know it’s time to make a move,” he adds. If you’re not feeling creative or feel as if there’s no career path at your current employer, these are signs that it’s time to make a change.
Do you like your company’s culture?
If you like the company’s culture, but not your job, then consider a new role at your firm. High performers tend to have an easier time making this transition. “They already have you down as an exceptional performer — companies want to keep these people and will likely give you an opportunity to move up,” says Delaney. “If you don’t like your work and company, then it’s time to assess making a big move.”
Are you undervalued and underutilized?
Are you growing, challenged and moving towards your one-year and five-year goals in your current role? If not, perhaps searching for a new opportunity should be a high priority, suggests Delaney.
Your compensation is also an important part of the assessment. If you feel undervalued, experts suggest leaving your job for a new one at the market value you deserve.
Is it time to change careers?
“If you’re not able to get to I need to change jobs, company or function, you need to figure out what you want to do and to figure out how to reinvent yourself,” Wolfe says. Determine which skills are transferable and if you need to retool yourself — this is the most challenging.
Research. If you’re looking to make a broader career change, experts suggest learning about different industries and jobs to figure out your interests. “Talk to different people who are in that job and find out the earning potential and career trajectory,” says Dobroski. “You’ll quickly find out things you like and don’t like.”
The Bureau of Labor Statistics has detailed information about many careers and industries that can help you determine your options. Career websites also provide insight from employees in specific industries.
“Maintain a file with this information so you can reference everything — think about creating a spreadsheet with likes and dislikes for different jobs and industries so you can figure out what you are and aren’t a fit for,” says Dobroski.
Network. Once you narrow down three or four areas that you’d be interested in pursuing, experts suggest networking with people in these areas. Ask them if you can shadow them for a day at their job, if they’d be willing to review your resume and discuss changes you need to make, or if they’d be willing to give you a referral. “People want to help in general, but you need to ask specific questions so they know how,” says Delaney.
Also look to participate in networking groups or attend conferences and speaker series for the job and industry that you’d like to pursue. Build a team of people that you can ask for specific help from, experts advise.
Rewrite Your Resume. “Once you narrowed it down, you should have a specific resume for each job type that you’re interested in,” says Delaney. “The way to hone in on those resumes is to research job openings and to look at the language that they use in the job descriptions — make sure you use those words in your resume.”
Experts suggest explaining in your cover letter why you’re making a career change and how your experience will add value to that company.
Plan. “When transitioning careers, most oftentimes, people do it successfully when they put a lot of thought and time into it,” says Dobroski.
Think twice about quitting your current job since finding a new position takes time, especially if you’re leaving a mid- to senior-level position and expecting to find a new job at that same level. “It’s easier to make a move from an employer to an employer than when you don’t have a role,” says Delaney.
If you find yourself out of work, set daily goals for yourself. “If you’re going to quit your job, you’ll be in a better position if you have a game plan in place,” says Dobroski. “Jumping ship without having something secured can have risk, but you need to do what’s right for you.”