Is your career in good shape? Do you feel invigorated at your
job? Do you feel healthy coming to work each day, knowing that
your hard work is paying off, improving your prospects for the
future? In the same way a long distance runner improves his
or her cardiovascular system with each run, a properly exercised
career will carry you further than a slothful one. A yearly
career check-up will help determine whether your current job
is the best one available for you, or whether it's time to flex
your employment search muscles. Regardless of title or industry,
professionals who take time out on a periodic basis to evaluate
and plan their careers will advance faster, earn more money,
and stay ahead of their peers in their personal and professional
When was the last time you took the pulse on your career? In
the midst of the great wave of change in industries such as
healthcare and information systems, what part of the wave are
you on? Will you ride proudly on the crest, letting the wave
carry you forward into your future, or will your career be crushed
by the rough waves of change?
There are a number of questions to ask when you give your career
a thorough physical examination. It is important to periodically
take time and distance to answer these queries objectively and
Here are some of the important questions to ask when you take
a vacation day or a long weekend. Take the time to write down
your answers. We suggest starting with a new spiral notebook
or blank book. Like any journal process, the more time you put
into this exercise, the more you will get out of it. Spend at
least five minutes answering each question before going on to
the next. A quick mental check will not serve you as well as
some deep thought and a long writing session.
Are your skills and abilities being well used in your job?
Do you feel challenged on a daily basis? Weekly? At all? Do
you feel under-utilized?
long have you been in your present position? Are you still
learning? Are you making a contribution to your company's
growth and profitability? How long have others in similar
positions been in their jobs? Have you been passed over for
promotions? Are you recognized for your achievements and rewarded
whom do you report? Is he or she well regarded in your company?
Are they spending time with you to further develop your skills?
Does your manager perceive you as promotable? If they move
up in the organization, will you be promoted as well?
you listened to? Do your superiors or your co-workers ask
for your opinions? Do your honest appraisals or complaints
get handled to your satisfaction, or do they fall on deaf
does your compensation or pay compare to your peers within
your company, or within similar companies in the area? Have
you been given raises each year of at least double the rate
of inflation? At what salary levels are new employees coming
in? Does the company provide benefits such as educational
reimbursement, profit sharing, 401-k savings-matching programs,
or stock options?
your company staying on top of the changes in your field?
Is it known as an innovator? Does top management communicate
with and take input from the rank and file?
your organization resting on past performance, or is it actively
dedicated to research and development and marketing of new
products or services?
your company known as customer-service oriented? Is the company
vision communicated clearly and regularly within the organization?
Are most employees aligned with the company vision statement,
or do are they cynical about the company which spouts a philosophy
but doesn't live up to it?
your existing career options lead to your ultimate career
goals? Do you have a clear plan of where you want to go in
the organization? Do you (and your boss) have a career progress
plan set out for you? Have you examined other career options?
The answers to these questions will help you determine whether
your position with your company is a healthy one for your career.
If you are finding your job challenging, are learning new skills
and gaining new experiences, and your company is working to
stay on the cutting edge of technology and the services provided
to your customers, you are in good shape for the future. If
you have been promoted at least once every two years, and you
are listened to when you express yourself about the company's
problems, needs, or direction, and management responds to complaints
or problems by fixing what is wrong, you are in an excellent
environment which is supporting your future growth.
If you find that most of your answers are negative, it is time
for you to examine your goals, write a new resume, and begin
looking for alternatives. There are many excellent books in
the business section of bookstores which can guide you in your
search for a new job. Do your homework, prepare yourself well,
and find an opportunity that will get you excited to wake up
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