Conducting a Career Audit

Jan 18, 2019

The concept of a Career Audit is underpinned by taking time out to review and reflect on where you are now in your career, how it is progressing, what skills you can leverage, assessing the gaps and then using all of this valuable information to formulate the next steps of your career. It is a really enlightening process that is a fundamental part of effectively managing your career.

The Career Coaching and Recruitment team in Chartered Accountants Ireland invest a significant proportion of our time working with members to help you devise your career strategy, particularly at this time of year when you are planning the year ahead and having goal setting meetings.

Questions that arise most often typically relate to career progression, comparisons with other members at the same career stage, getting a promotion, salary and of course career sustainability.

Conducting a career audit allows you to stand back and critically review your career performance. I would suggest that it should be an annual ritual that forms part of an overall career planning strategy. It provides you with the headspace to take stock, to plan and to deal with obstacles that come up.

With this in mind the following are some questions to put to yourself to help you to conduct your own Career Audit. If you are honest with yourself the answers should provide you with beneficial and thought provoking material that will prove useful when you are reviewing and strategically planning your career.

Questions

Goals

What are your overall career objectives? What are your short, medium term and long term goals? Where do you want to be in 3 or 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 is beneficial to consider these objectives and goals from a professional as well as a personal perspective. These dimensions of your life should not be considered in isolation as there is inevitably cross over.

How do you measure success? We all have our own definition of success. For some it is based on financials and for others it can be driven by such factors as job satisfaction or work-life blend. Be very clear on how you define success. For example, ask yourself what would career success look like for you in the coming 1, 3 or 5 years? Often visualising ourselves in a particular space or environment can be the motivation or catalyst some of us need.

How happy are you with the career choices you have made to date? What has driven those career choices? These questions will enable you to better understand your motivations and to identify any patterns that may exist. It is always a good idea to look at the reason for a role or career change to understand what the driver of the decision was.

Do you find your role fulfilling and what level of job satisfaction are you experiencing? As the saying goes ‘if you find the right job you will never work a day in your life’. We spend so much of our lives in work and we owe it to ourselves to be in a role that we enjoy and find rewarding.

Is your career choice in line with your personal and professional values? Do you connect with the role and industry that you work in? Ultimately we can obtain greater job satisfaction and career success if we are in a role, company and sector that are compatible with our personal values.

Success Bank

What have been your key achievements to date? What are you proudest of to date?

We often don’t take time out to consider what we have actually accomplished. Recognising our achievements is hugely motivational and can help to provide you with the impetus to move towards reaching future career goals. When it comes to self-promotion and personal branding being aware of your personal success bank is a must.

What new skills and competencies have you acquired throughout your career? What unique selling points can you now offer as a result?

Draft an inventory of the key skills and competencies that you can now bring on to the next stage of your career. What unique combination of skills to you bring? Regularly Update your CV to ensure that all new learning and skills are captured as they are gained.

Professional Development

How steep has your learning curve been in recent years?  If you find that your development has stalled you should look at ways in which you can start to learn and develop again.

Peer Review

How has your career progressed relative to your peers? Conducting a benchmarking exercise to see how your career progression stacks up relative to your peers can provide objective and interesting insights. Keep in mind though 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 good to know what the competition are up to!

Salary/Package
How does your salary and package compare with the rates currently being offered for chartered accountants at your level?
This information can readily be obtained from salary surveys and also through speaking with recruitment professionals or contacts.

How satisfied are you with your salary and package? What scope is there for further movement in this area? Although it is important that your salary is competitive there can often be other factors to consider such as the industry sector, location and other non-monetary benefits like flexible working arrangements.

Is your career on track? If not, why not?  If your career has stalled the starting point for any change is to take an objective look at what hasn’t worked out and why. Then reflect on what you have learned about your career and yourself. What can you now do differently with the value of hindsight? To jolt your career develop an action plan that incorporates these learnings.  

Staying relevant

How have you ensured that your skills, knowledge and experience are up to date and relevant in the current market? In an era of life-long learning there is an increasing expectation that those interested in career success will commit to continuously learning. This can take the form not just of classroom learning but can also include on the job learning.

What have been the recent developments in your area? What likely impact are they going to have on your career? The market moves quickly be aware of what is happening in your field or sector and then consider the potential implications for your career. This will enable you to be ahead of any emerging trends.

Your Network

How strong 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? What support could you rely on if needed? Networking is a crucial part of any career development strategy.

Mentor

Do you have a mentor? Who can you look to when you need advice and support regarding career decisions? Who can act as your trusted careers advisor?  We all need an independent sounding board who can provide insights based on their own experiences and knowledge.

Work Life Balance

How would you rate your worklife balance? What time do you dedicate to your well-being? Obtaining the balance that works for you is essential to achieving long term and sustainable career satisfaction.

Mind over Matter

How do you feel about yourself? What messages you do send yourself? What is your level of self-belief? How has your mode of thinking impacted on your career? Are you a glass half full or half empty type of person? The power of positive thinking is not to be underestimated when it comes to our career potential. Self- awareness in relation to our thought processes can enable us to change career limiting beliefs. Next time you hear yourself being negative, stop that thought and test its’ validity and accuracy.

Would you let others speak to you the way you speak to yourself? If not why are you doing this to yourself? Positive mental attitude is a key ingredient for career success

Overview

Ultimately you own your career and you have overall responsibility for creating and managing your success. Time invested in ensuring that you get the most from your career will be something that will pay dividends for you both now and into the future. The starting point for an exercise like this is to decide to be honest with yourself; you owe it to yourself to do so. Equally as important is to listen to what your instincts are telling you and to act on them. This process will take time so don’t expect to make any immediate changes. It is important to consider all the possible options open to you. There is also help and support available with this process. You can contact Karin Lanigan Manager of the Career Development and Recruitment Service of Chartered Accountants Ireland for career coaching and advice.