Why we all need a career MOT

Professionals are increasingly leaving it until it’s too late to check the health of their career, and employers are not encouraging self-improvement in fear of losing valuable employees, according to James Micklewright, managing director of career coaching company Micklewright Careers.

“Employers are generally uninterested in helping us grow at work and are not offering training or promotion opportunities to improve our career health, both because they don’t have budget and worryingly because they fear their employees jumping ship.

“Conversely as an employee, despite job security looking increasingly tenuous, many of us are not ensuring that our CVs, training and skills are comprehensive and up to date, and only identify holes when we are suddenly in need of a new job. We are not taking control of our careers, and are increasingly settling for an unhappy work life because we may be working in the wrong career, job or position or are simply unfilled at work,” says Micklewright.

The employee perspective

Being time-poor is the major reason why we are failing to properly evaluate if our career status is healthy, according to Micklewright.  “We only evaluate whether our CV is healthy, comprehensive and up to date, when we suddenly need it.  How often do you look at your CV and decide whether it is still relevant to your role or sector? It is vital to highlight areas for improvement and spot blanks in a CV well in advance of the need for change, both to keep your career as healthy as possible and to keep you feeling fulfilled at work.”

Whilst there are a host of psychometric tests that can be used as pointers as to whether our personalities are suited to our career, James Micklewright says: “A career check is just like taking your car to the garage for an MOT for an assessment of what is going right and perhaps what is going wrong. Just like the maintenance of your car, it should be done as regularly as needed, but annually is advised. It’s just too important to be left to chance when things get desperate or go wrong.”

5 ways employees can do a health check on their career:

  1. Check your CV is up to date twice a year. Record new skills and achievements, easily forgotten in a hectic working life. Regular checks also help to reduce the length of time it takes to transition to a new career, if this is the goal or if the need arises.
  2. Identify skill gaps and seek further training opportunities either self-funded or from your company. Demonstrate how this could not only help you but the business too.
  3. Add monthly to your LinkedIn page, join LinkedIn groups, and ask for testimonials to boost your online and offline profile.
  4. Keep networking. Even if you are busy, take the time to meet your network for coffees or lunch every so often. You want to be at the forefront of their mind if an opportunity will arise either for you or your current company.
  5. Take control of your career destiny. Check you are happy and fulfilled at work. If not, it really is in your hands to make a change. Career check-ups increase confidence and positivity and can lead to a more focused outlook in life generally.

“Ultimately having a career check-up ensures that you are working in the correct career, in the right role, that you are getting the best experience in your current position and have the best personal resume you can have if and when you need it.”

The businesses perspective

We know that when employees are happy and fulfilled at work, they are less likely to be lured away and more likely to be productive and loyal to the business. To follow are three additional reasons why employers and HR departments should help address individuals career plans by providing career opportunities and training for business success.

  • Looking at how individuals’ careers are developing helps you identify others in the organisation who have similar traits and can enable mentoring and creating powerful groups working towards a goal.
  • Offering internal career health checks mean you can focus on who has what skills and identify where there are gaps and opportunities, both for the business and for individuals.
  • Making the most of an employee’s talent is sensible but so is encouraging them to work on areas where they are less talented. Its win-win in creating a more well-rounded employee and business.