When was the last time you checked up on your career? If it was more than 6 months ago, it’s probably a good time to revisit it. After asking yourself the hard questions such as, “Am I where I want to be right now? Where do I want to be in 5 years?”, go through the following 8 checkup steps to address any unattended gaps or ailments you might be experiencing in your career.
1. Make Sure You're Not Settling
Your career is where you will spend the majority of your waking hours for a substantial part of your life. Do not choose one just because it seemed like the only one available. Although there are often times to take a job because that is all you have, it does not mean you have to plan on staying there long term. If your job does not have the potential to be a great career, then do not settle on it. Take time to do your best you can and then move on to a better career.
2. Reach For The Stars
Some of the best jobs on the planet are in IT. Some of the worst jobs on the planet are in IT. Shoot for the best, and you will probably not get stuck performing work you cannot stand for inadequate wages. Make a list of the jobs you would only ever dream of doing, and make a list of the jobs you hope you never land. What is the difference between the two of them? How can you find the careers in fields similar to your dream jobs, if not the actual jobs themselves.
3. Update Your Career Portfolio
If "printf("Hello World!")" is the extent of your programming experience listed in your career portfolio, you are not going to get that job as a programmer. Comedian, maybe, but never a programmer. Always take time to update your career portfolio as you build programs, perform networking, act as the product owner in a Scrum cycle, or any other IT related skills. These will give you the tools necessary to both review whether you are indeed earning your best wage and doing your best work in your current career and whether you need to find a place that truly appreciates all your awesomeness.
4. Update Your General Portfolio
Any specific activities that really stand out deserve a place among your list of accomplishments, even if they don’t quite fit your career portfolio. Make sure you are taking stock of additional activities or projects you’ve completed, even when they fall outside your career path. Consider keeping a general portfolio where you can document these one-off projects. You never know when you might want to change pace, and will need to reference those accomplishments.
Maybe you did some networking for your uncle’s call center once, or perhaps you’ve built a few apps for your friend’s company on the side. If you decide to pursue that type of work, you’ll want to make sure you’ve documented your experience. Find links to where your work is showcased, be it on a website or in a journal article. Whether your name is there or not, if you can describe the core processes of how you made the technology work to a potential recruiter down the road.
5. Round Out Your Skills
What skills do people in your chosen career need to perform well that you are still lacking? Are there activities at your current job which require other employees' help? If you have skill sets that are necessary for your dream jobs but not your strong suites, find a way to round them out. Internships, courses, job training, and seeking new jobs are all great ways to increase your knowledge and review your career at the same time.
6. Take Courses
One way to round out lacking skills and improve your strengths is to take courses. From online courses at the Khan Academy to your local community college, there are many options to increase your value to a potentially new employer and to your current employer.
7. Join Communities
IT job-related communities are great places to discover whether there are openings, and what people think about the businesses you are looking at. As you consider moving forward in your career or just want to review your current career, online communities are great places to find information from other people in the same boat as yourself.
8. Enjoy Yourself
This is your career, your livelihood, your life. You should be able to enjoy it. Take some time to find parts of your skillset that you excel at and do them to the best of your ability. Alternatively, you can learn something that is totally unrelated for the express purpose of giving your mind a break. Take time away from your career and look at it to see whether it truly fits your needs. If your career does not meet your needs or bring you joy, start quietly polishing off your portfolio and looking for a new one.
Perhaps a new career is what you're looking for. Click below to get in touch with Genesis10, America's leading IT staffing firm.