The 5-Minute Digital Career Review Plan
Is your digital marketing career taking you where you want to go? Here’s how to size up your situation in just 5 minutes.
Taking time to step back from the day-to-day blur of work and view our own careers through a long lens is something many of us wish we could do more often, but finding time for a deep-dive analysis is challenging for those managing busy schedules.
With such a large portion of our waking hours and energies being poured into careers it’s important to feel confident that we’re on the right path and moving towards our goals.
To help keep it simple, here are 10 quick questions to help you take a snapshot of your career in digital marketing.
How do you stack up – are you on the right course, or is it time for a change?
1. Am I learning?
Personal development is one of the building blocks of a successful and rewarding career, and when other elements aren’t quite perfect the knowledge that at least you’re improving your skill set is a valuable factor to weigh in the balance.
If you want to take a snapshot of your current situation, learning is a great place to start – are you picking up new skills on a routine basis, or reusing the same abilities over and over?
If your job isn’t teaching you anything, it’s unlikely that it’s positioning you for anything better in future.
2. Do I have clear criteria for success?
To excel in any role it’s important to know where the bar is set for performance.
Whether negotiating your future advancement or chronicling your achievements for your CV, everything depends on a clear understanding of what’s expected of you in your role and what constitutes excellence.
Jobs which merely involve getting through the week without ‘dropping the ball’ and have no clear performance criteria can make it tricky to excel in the short term (giving you no grounds for a raise or promotion), and tough to demonstrate to a potential future employer that you delivered great results.
3. Am I being pushed?
It’s never good to feel too comfortable in any position.
Of course, it’s great to live stress free and to feel in control of your workload, but if you’re looking to keep your career moving forwards then you need a bit of pressure to keep you advancing.
If your boss gives you too much space, or your abilities let you hit your objectives without approaching your maximum capacity, it’s a clear sign that your long-term trajectory will flatten out if you don’t take steps to change it.
How can you prepare yourself for career-defining challenges in future if you’re not even giving the best of yourself now?
4. Will I have advanced in 6 months?
A simple way to benchmark your progress is in half-year cycles.
Think about your current workload, your learning curve, the projects you’re working on, the tools you’re using and the clients and colleagues you’re working with…
Then fast-forward six months, and think about what you will have achieved.
Does it excite you? Make you feel proud?
If yes, you’re most likely on a good track.
If the next six months stretch out ahead of you with more of the same and nothing to feel motivated by, you might need to take some corrective action.
5. Do I have valuable co-workers?
Any self-improvement book or guide you pick up will tell you to surround yourself with people who are smarter or more experienced than you if you want to move forwards professionally.
While this is usually meant in a social context (i.e. build yourself a network of successful friends and learn from them), it applies to your work environment too.
Even if you don’t have any formal training as part of your position, interacting with A-players and observing how they operate can be an invaluable experience.
If you run a quick check of the people you work with most closely (peers, managers, colleagues from other departments) and realize that they’re all top-performers who can help you grow, that’s an important asset that shouldn’t be underestimated. Just make sure you’re taking advantage of it.
6. Do I have a strong mentor?
As important as your colleagues are, it’s usually your direct manager that holds the biggest sway over your development.
Sometimes - even when pretty much everything else on your career review scorecard turns out poorly - working beneath someone exceptional or inspirational can be a game-changer, and many people stay loyal to their jobs because of a great boss.
If you’re one of them, you’re fortunate.
However, just make sure you’re rounded and objective in your appraisal of your overall career development, and don’t let an excellent relationship with one key individual blind you to other failings that the wider company may be responsible for.
7. Is someone tracking my progress?
Career development is a partnership, not a one-sided responsibility of the employee.
It’s helpful to step back from your day-to-day and ask yourself who else is monitoring your success, not just from a weekly or monthly KPI standpoint but from an overall perspective.
Who notices whether or not you’re picking up new skills?
Who cares if you’re consistently over-performing and might be ready for something new?
Who’s looking at your knowledge gaps and working pro-actively to help you get better?
Building a great career takes support, and it’s worth searching for an environment where your employer sees your growth as a shared investment.
8. Am I on track to hit my financial goals?
Most high-performing professionals break down their earnings goals into short and long term.
This can be helpful as it enables you to review your current situation in two ways:
In the first instance, you’re looking to see whether you have a clear financial path in the immediate future, e.g. do you know when your next pay review is scheduled for, and what your likely next salary level will be? Do you have a clear performance incentive plan (bonuses or commissions), and know what’s needed of you to hit 100%+?
In the second instance, you’re thinking further down the line – Am I investing in myself by being here, and is my current role an investment towards a more lucrative opportunity in future?
Answering ‘no’ to these questions is a definite orange flag and may cause you to focus on how to ensure your career path delivers for you financially as well as developmentally.
9. Do I have a healthy work-life balance?
Great performance usually means hard work – but that shouldn’t be all there is. An optimal career track will give you the resources and support to hit your goals, but also allow you the space to live your life outside the office and maintain other interests.
When you weigh up your work-life balance, keep in mind who’s responsible for the key factors that affect your situation.
If your company offers great perks, are you taking advantage of them?
If you’re working exhausting hours, is that because your workload is excessive or because you’re struggling to deliver efficiently?
Is any extra work you’re putting in a requirement of your current role, or an investment you’re choosing to make to accelerate your own advancement?
10. Am I happy?
For many of us, this is the clincher and no appraisal is complete without a straightforward assessment of emotional wellbeing.
Part of this comes from you – if you enjoy the daily components of your job and believe in the company you work for, then this should be a huge positive to take into consideration when evaluating some of the negatives on your list.
The rest will come from your environment:
Do you feel valued?
Are your contributions recognized?
Do you get on with your colleagues?
Does your company have a healthy corporate culture?
If you’re in a good place emotionally, that shouldn’t be eclipsed by default just because you could get a salary bump or a better job title by moving elsewhere.
But In a diverse and continually-growing digital market where talent is in constant demand, you shouldn’t have to choose between a successful career and loving what you do.