The State of Your Career

The State of Your Career

The State of the Union, of course, is a President’s opportunity to give the American people a report on the state of our union.  In today’s turbulent world of work, giving yourself a report on the State of Your Career is also essential to your well being.

How do you conduct such an evaluation and what should you focus on?

As I detail in The Career Fitness Workbook, the State of Your Career should be an assessment and not an appraisal.  Unlike your boss’s annual critique of your performance, this evaluation is conducted by you and focuses on the progress you’re making toward goals that are important to you.  It’s not a judgment about what you did well or poorly, but rather, a review of where you are in relation to where you want to be.

In this evaluation, you will assess whether you took the actions which you identified as necessary in the near term to improve your contribution in your current job and in the midterm to prepare for the next job you want to have.  Those twin perspectives acknowledge two realities in today’s workplace:
•    First, thanks to intense global competition, employers are eliminating any job or employee that isn’t making a day-in, day-out contribution to its success.
•    And second, thanks to the acceleration of technological advances and other factors, the life expectancy of any job is now down to just three or four years.
Career security, therefore, depends on your making continuous progress toward the right goals for you, and your performance review (not appraisal) is a way to keep yourself moving forward and in the right direction.

The health of your career, however, should be evaluated more frequently than the ship of state.  With workplace changes now coming at an unprecedented pace, you must identify any necessary remediation or mid-course corrections and institute those steps on a quarterly basis.

Yes, that’s hard to accomplish given the pressures of our day-to-day work, but as I noted in my last post, taking care of yourself (and your career) is every bit as important as doing good work for your employer.  Both are essential to sustained success.

Thanks for reading,


  1. Dear Peter,

    I always enjoy reading your blog and gaining from your insights. Today’s however, leaves me with a big question.

    Although one should definitely have their own conscious agenda at work during their bosses – shouldn’t they also have a 3rd party review it with them to make sure they are on course? Whether it’s coach, mentor or advisor… it just seems necessary.

    In one recent case, an engineer told me about 6 months ago that while out of work he just decided to take a course to learn how to develop websites. I asked why and he said that he wanted to build his own portfolio and also that middle management today have to have that skillset. I thought they don’t and an overview course on managing website projects would be more valuable. I also told him, you will still be looking in 6 months. It’s 7 months now and he’s still looking. I had 3 positions for him and he went with a no-funds entrepreneur who he had no contract with for $25 per hour. It blows me away that people can spend upwards of $150,000 on their education and when it comes to looking for a job – they can’t see the value of your services or mine so easily. I think my clarity on how to handle this might help a few people find a few jobs sooner. Do you have a perspective you could share???

    Thank you kindly,
    Michael Schlager

    1. Michael-

      Thanks for your comment and question. Career self-management is an endeavor similar to building physical fitness. Some of us need a personal trainer and some of us can do it on our own. Some of us know the best ways to build strength, endurance and reach without hurting ourselves and others will end up in the emergency room. One key to success, therefore, is self-knowledge; we have to know whether we have the skills and knowledge to manage our careers on our own or need the assistance and support of a professional to reach our career goal.