Facebook LinkedIn Twitter YouTube Flickr

Conduct a Career Audit!

Tue 18 January 2011

, Ann Daly, Ph.D,

Is this the year you’re going to make your move? A high-profile assignment, or client? That promotion you’ve been coveting? A relocation? The top company in your industry, or one outside of your current industry altogether? Your own startup?

Declaring the “resolution” is hardly the end of the process. Defining the goal is only the beginning. Once you clearly define—in specific and measureable terms—what it is you want to achieve by the end of the year, then you need to conduct a career audit. The audit will make plain where you are positioned vis-à-vis your goal and the gap you need to close. In the career economy, there are four basic categories of capital with which you can create growth: functional capital, human capital, political capital, and brand capital.

To get you started on your career audit, here is a set of questions to answer in each category. After you answer these questions:

  • rate each category from 1 (worst) to 10 (best)
  • prioritize the categories in order of improvement needed from 1 (most improvement needed) to 4 (least improvement needed)

Functional capital.
First things first. You gotta have the chops. And you gotta stay on the cutting edge of your field, no matter how quickly it may be moving. That’s the price of admission to career advancement.


  • How current are you with the latest advancements and hot issues in your field?
  • How often do you attend, or present at, the leading convenings?
  • How often do you contribute to professional online discussions?
  • How often do you initiate improvements in your workplace?
  • How well do you articulate the value-added of those improvements?

Human capital.
No career is built in a vacuum. We need people as sources of information (mavens), linkage (connectors), and leverage (champions). In order to advance your career, you need to have a balanced and diversified portfolio of human capital.


  • How developed is your network inside your workplace?
  • How developed is your network outside your workplace?
  • How developed is your network across functions?
  • How often do you keep up with current connections?
  • How often do you initiate new connections?

Political capital. At its most basic, career advancement is about competition. Someone gets the promotion, and someone doesn’t. Someone’s strategy is adapted, and someone’s strategy isn’t. How diligently have you positioned yourself to “win friends and influence people”? Questions:

  • How well do you understand the way decisions are made at your company?
  • How well do you understand its informal power network?
  • How connected are you to its information underground?
  • How developed are your relationships with key decision-makers and power-brokers?
  • How influential are you?
Brand capital.
All other things being equal: the more visible you are, the quicker you’ll get noticed and advanced. Boost your visibility with a clear, coherent, consistent brand. A brand tells people who you are, what you stand for, and where you’re going. Warning: if you don’t tell this story, other people will make it up as it suits them. Questions:
  • How vocal are you at meetings and events?
  • How well do you articulate your accomplishments, your value-added, and your vision?
  • How accurately does your self-presentation reflect your professional ambitions?
  • How comfortable are you telling your story?
  • How do you extend your brand beyond the immediate workplace?

Launch the new year by focusing on your top-ranking priority. As you finish optimizing your capital in that category, move on to the next one. You’ll find that the audit process is a methodical way to make sure you’ve accumulated enough career capital to successfully make your move. Happy New Year! 

Read the full article: