Conducting a Career Health Check

May 02, 2018

The Importance of a career health check

As Manager of Career and CPD Development a significant proportion of my time is spent working with members in relation to career strategy. It is a topic that is always at the forefront of members’ minds. The concerns expressed by members are often similar in terms of how their career is progressing generally, how they compare with others at a similar level, what do they need to do to get their next promotion and of course how can they ensure they achieve their full potential and that their career continues to advance.

Taking time out to review how you and your career are performing is time well spent. It is an exercise that is worth investing time in as it provides you with the opportunity to stand back and critically review your career performance. It is a ritual that should form part of an overall career planning strategy. It allows you time to review and take stock, to plan and to deal with obstacles or issues that might arise for you.

With this in mind the following are some questions to put to yourself to help you to conduct a career health check or ‘audit’ to use terminology close to the hearts of many! If you are honest with yourself the answers should provide you with beneficial and thought provoking insights that will prove useful when you are reviewing and strategically planning the steps in your career. This process is becoming increasingly important with the wide ranging changes that are taking place in the workplace where it is likely to be the case that we have numerous and varied career paths during our working lives. This increases the need for strategic career planning.

The Career Health Check questions you need to ask yourself...

Career goals
What are your overall career objectives? What are your short, medium term and long term goals? Where do you want to be in 5 years’ time?
Consider these questions in relation to what you had originally set out to achieve, as well as assessing what your ambitions are now. It can be beneficial to consider these objectives and goals from a professional as well as a personal perspective. These distinct dimensions of your life should not be reviewed separately as they are inevitably linked and intertwined and one area of our life will impact on the other. This consideration can be of particular importance and relevance as you move through your career and as priorities shift and change. Starting a family is a perfect example of when your priorities might shift.

Career Success Bank
What have been your key achievements to date? What are you proudest of in your career so far?
These questions will help you to review and take stock of what your key accomplishments and deliverables have been.  We often don’t take time out to consider what we have actually achieved and to then give ourselves credit for what we have in fact accomplished. This process can be hugely motivational and can help to provide you with the inspiration and impetus to move towards reaching future career goals. You will also gain greater awareness of your skills and value proposition. When it comes to self-promotion and personal branding being aware of your personal success bank is a must. Consider the following:

Career Skills and Experience
What new skills and competencies have you acquired throughout your career? What unique selling points can you now offer as a result of the experience you have gained to date?
Building on and leveraging the career success you have achieved to date can provide you with a solid platform from which to launch the next phase of your career. Ask yourself if you are playing to your strengths and maximising your real potential? What are your Unique Selling Points (USP)? How aware are you of them and their value to you and your career? Are you making the most of them and incorporating them into your career development plan?

Learning and professional development
How steep has your learning curve been in recent years?
In the rapidly changing and competitive environment that we work in there is immense pressure to stay in touch with emerging trends and developments and this is fundamental to your career success. If you find that your learning curve and potential to add to your skills and success bank has stopped or diminished you should now start to consider the alternatives open to you.

Keeping up to Date
How have you ensured that your skills, knowledge and experience are up to date and in line with market and employer requirements? What skills are most in demand and how do you rate in these areas?  What have been the recent developments in your area? What likely impact are they going to have on your career? What are the long term prospects for your role, organisation and sector?  These essential questions will help you to assess how relevant your skills are and where gaps may exist for you in the context of a rapidly changing world where skills need to be constantly updated.

How has your career progressed relative to your peers?
Conducting a benchmarking exercise to see how your career progression and advancement rates relative to your peers can provide interesting insights. It can potentially help you to assess your career in a more objective way. However, do keep in mind that we don’t all have the same goals and motivations so you may not be comparing like with like. That said it is always worthwhile informing yourself in respect of the career paths chosen and followed by your peers. LinkedIn can be a very useful way in which to learn about the career paths of your peers as is meeting with your peers on a regular basis to keep in touch. This has the added benefit of increasing your network as well as keeping it active.

How does your salary and package compare with the rates currently being offered for employees at your level? How satisfied are you with your salary and package? What scope is there for further movement in this area? These are all important questions to consider when reviewing your current salary and package. Speak to others in your peer group to get a sense of what salaries and packages they are being offered and also speak with a number of recruitment agencies and consult their salary surveys to gain specific insights into the current trends in the market. Obviously money is important but it shouldn’t be the only consideration and you should take into account other non-monetary benefits such as flexibility and working from home when you are looking at the overall employer offering.

Career Path
Is your career on track? If not, why not? 
If your career hasn’t turned out the way you had hoped or it has stalled, the starting point for any changes is to take a critical and objective look at what went wrong, how this happened and what the reasons were for this. The next step will be to reflect on what you have learned from these experiences and what you now know about yourself. Consider what you would do differently with the value of hindsight.  To move forward and to bring about positive changes you need to have an action plan in place that will allow you to implement a strategy that will get your career back on track and moving in the right direction once again.

How strong, active and current is your network? How much time do you invest in building on this valuable resource? What contacts have you recently added to your network?
Developing and maintaining a professional network is critical to career success, particularly as you advance into more senior level roles. Investing time in building authentic, meaningful and mutually beneficial professional relationships will benefit your career.

Do you have a mentor? Who can you look to when you need advice and support in relation to key career decisions? Who can act as your trusted careers advisor?
Having an independent sounding board and someone you can seek objective advice from can be invaluable especially when it comes to important career decisions or when challenges arise. Be sure to have someone in your corner to

Supporting your career
Ultimately your career is your responsibility and you owe it yourself to invest time in effectively managing your career path and success. Time invested will be pay dividends. Chartered Accountants Ireland has a wide range of career support services available to you. 

For more details click on or contact Karin Lanigan on 01 637 7331 for a confidential discussion.