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Conducting your career audit

If you want a change in your career this year, it’s best to first take stock of where you are before you can figure out where you want to go.

According to recent figures from survey of registered attendees to a November Jobs Expo, 45% of respondents are employed but unhappy and looking to change roles. If you are currently questioning if your current position is right for you long term, it may be worthwhile performing a personal career audit. There are particular areas which you should take into consideration when performing an audit like this, and we have established some of these to guide you in the right direction. 

Take stock of your current position

One of the main sources of discontent for a lot of people is their specific role in the organisation. Is your current role and company providing you with the development and challenges you are looking for? What could be done differently to ensure you feel more satisfied and happier within your role? One common error is to presume all positions are set in stone with no further scope. Instead, you could explore the possibilities of expanding or adjusting your role to suit your requirements if your employer deems fit. Accountancy professionals often cite ’lack of growth opportunities’ as a major reason they move on to their next role outside of the company. You have to ask yourself: is my role providing the correct career opportunities that align with my future goals and do I derive career satisfaction from it? You should also discuss your concerns with your manager and colleagues to ensure you are exploring all avenues available before deciding to move on. 

Define a potential career path

The way we work is changing. Today’s modern workforce is frequently jumping jobs and roles. Gone are the days of sticking in one job within the same company for all of your working life. Young professionals, in particular, will now change roles within just a year or two of starting a position. It is more important than ever to have a planned career path in mind alongside clear career goals. Ask yourself regularly if you are enjoying what you are doing and where you are going in your career. With 51% of accountants admitting, according to Morgan McKinley’s Workplace Survey, that they intend to leave their current job in 2019, seeking some career advice from a qualified professional within your field may also be a good idea. Above all, it’s key to only move on to the next challenge when you feel that you have gained everything you can from your current one. 

Evaluate your status and create goals

Regularly evaluating where you are along your career path and your career status should be a topic of key importance for anyone who is conducting an audit of their current career. Your goals for 2019 should be focused yet flexible as things can change which are outside of your control. Ensuring your goals are consistent and that you regularly evaluate where you are in terms of achieving them is also important. The most popular career goal among accountancy professionals in the Morgan McKinley’s Workplace Survey  was to improve their work-life balance, with 38% citing this as their main focus. 

You should consider testing these goals and to see how realistic they are, along with measuring your desire/the importance of these goals in conjunction with your overall career objectives. Ranking these goals in order of personal importance can also help you in terms of the prioritisation of tasks. 

Think compensation and benefits

Money isn’t the be all and end all in terms of satisfaction you get from a role but the reality is that when you are underpaid, you feel undervalued and probably less motivated to work to your full potential. Reviewing your compensation package should be a regular occurrence and one that should become more of a priority than optional. Benchmarking your compensation and benefits package against similar level positions and competitor companies is a good way of sussing out if you are being adequately paid. 

Think about what training you need and are receiving

Making a list of the types of training you would like to receive in 2019 can help you identify ways in which your training regime could be improved. It also allows you to identify areas of training which you found unhelpful and shouldn’t continue in 2019. Thinking critically about the training you have received helps determine if the training actually aligns with the objectives of the business. 

Review your working arrangements

People often overlook their working arrangements when conducting their audit. This includes your commute, which can cause unnecessary stress if too long. When not looked into, these arrangements can cause physical and mental health issues, increased financial expenses, as well as opportunity costs,  meaning time engaging in other important activities  like exercise and family time are sacrificed. There could be some solutions to this problem and it may be as simple as having a chat with your manager about working from home or more flexible working hours to accommodate your commute. 

Give yourself a health audit

Stress is a factor that costs the economy an unprecedented amount every year. The impact of work challenges on your physical and mental health can be astounding. It can affect job performance and productivity. If you feel your physical, mental and/or emotional health needs a reboot, then a health assessment is paramount. Easy ways to improve your well-being could be as simple as healthy eating, regular exercise, practising mindfulness and managing stress. If you feel that your work is having an negative impact on these simple solutions, then it may be worthwhile making this a key area of focus for your audit and discussing your options with someone confidentially to see what can be done to improve this. The impact taking care of yourself can have on your professional performance can be significant. 

How is your financial well-being?

Financial well-being includes having control over your finances, being on track to meet your financial goals and being able to afford to live a relatively comfortable lifestyle without experiencing significant money woes. A focus on improving your financial well-being will lead to financial security. Listing your current debt and loans will allow you to establish areas of outgoings and assist you in figuring out if your current income is covering your expenditure.  According to Morgan McKinley’s survey, 55% of accountants believe that they should be paid more. It is more important than ever to take stock of whether or not your finances are looking healthy and what can be done to achieve this in 2019. 

Conclusion

Like everything to do with careers and professional performance, a successful career audit will not come around without the correct intentions. You need to ensure you’re performing an audit for the right reasons, both personally and professionally, and that you take note of the outcomes of your findings to turn them into positive changes to enhance and benefit your career. The start of any career audit  is asking the right questions about current situation and role and going from there. 

James Gallagher is the Associate Director of Accounting, Finance & Legal at Morgan McKinley.

This article was originally published in the February 2019 issue of Accountancy Ireland.