The beginning of the year is a natural time for resolutions and reflection. In the early days of 2012, put your career under the microscope and do a self-review. In addition to setting goals, look at what you achieved and learned in 2011. Conducting this kind of evaluation can clarify your career direction, helping you to identify what you really hope to accomplish in the months ahead and how you can get there. It’s an exercise that can be both empowering and instructive. Here are actions to help you get started:
Break Down Your Accomplishments.
Make a list of your greatest achievements of last year; then go a step further and deconstruct them. Let’s say you developed a social media marketing campaign that boosted your company’s web traffic and brought in new business. Rather than merely noting that fact, pinpoint what you did right during the various steps of the process.
For example, you tapped your creativity to develop a novel idea. You used your people skills to generate buy-in and relied on your communication abilities to sell the plan with a knockout presentation. You then utilized your project-management expertise to oversee its development and implementation.
Patting yourself on the back for positive results is all well and good, but methodically breaking down the how’s and why’s of your successes will help you replicate them.
Update your self-promotional tools. Your accomplishments will do you the most good when you document them. Don’t let the memories (and samples) of your best work disappear. While you’re focusing on the positives from the recent past, update your resume as well as your hard copy and online portfolios.
It’s also smart to gather and file supporting material, which might include formal letters of praise, industry awards, mentions in the corporate newsletter or even glowing thank-you emails from clients. You never know when these will come in handy.
- Creating Your Digital Portfolio: The Essential Guide for Showcasing Your Design Work Online.
- DesignCast: Building the Perfect Portfolio, presented by Hank Richardson.
- The Designer’s Career Collection: Learn How to Create Your Portfolio and Find a Job.
Be Honest About Shortcomings.
One of the main advantages of a self-review is that neither your manager nor human resources needs to know about it. It’s solely for your benefit, so be completely honest with yourself. In what areas do you need to improve? Obvious trouble spots, if any exist, will likely have been brought to your attention by your boss or colleagues.
But what about the subtle skills shortages or bad habits that hinder your efficiency or job satisfaction? Maybe you finish assignments on time, for instance, but you frequently procrastinate and end up scrambling at the last minute. Or, perhaps, a fear of public speaking keeps you from pitching your ideas. Dig deep and get introspective.
Zeroing in on your weak points isn’t necessarily a fun activity, but it can be incredibly helpful if you focus more on the solutions than the shortcomings. Brainstorm a variety of potential remedies. Once you’ve identified what you need to do, don’t delay. Whether it’s embracing a new project-management tool, learning new design software or finding a mentor, get started as soon as possible. In short, take stock and then take action.
High-performing creatives tend to adopt an entrepreneurial outlook on their careers. Even if your employer conducts annual performance reviews, assessing your work on your own terms is a worthwhile endeavor. Your manager can certainly play a role in your professional growth, but it’s ultimately your responsibility. Starting the year off with a thorough and honest self-appraisal will set you up for a successful year ahead.