Time for a Career Check Up

With the end of the year approaching it is a good time to reflect on the past twelve months, and to take a realistic look at what the year ahead may hold. For those in the NDT and quality inspection industry, December offers an opportunity to step back and conduct a candid assessment of your career.

Whether you are in an established position with many years of experience, or are at the beginning of your NDT career, it is helpful to set measurable goals and objectives for your professional life. Like all valid assessments, start by providing honest answers to some tough questions:

  •  Do I love what I am doing?
  • Am I passionate about my work?
  • What could I be doing that would make me happier?
  • Do I want to make more money?
  • Is making money the most important reason I go to work?
  • Do I want more responsibility? Am I ready to accept it?
  • Is there a promotion or new job I can go after?
  • Do I have the skills/experience/certifications to get it?
  • Will getting a promotion or new job make me happier?
  • Do I even want to stay in my job?
  • What is keeping me from leaving?
  • What is keeping me here?

Some of these questions will require reflection and self-examination. But the longer you put off addressing the issues, the more entrenched you may become. Any unhappiness or frustration may deepen and make you resentful. That’s why it is important to go through such a review every year.

If you are unhappy or frustrated, it is up to you to do something about it. Don’t expect outside assistance. Even if you are deliriously happy with your current position, there are steps you can take to make it even better. Take a look ahead and imagine what you see yourself doing in one year, five years and even ten years. Be as detailed and specific as possible in your dreams of the future. This is where you career goals will come from.

With a picture in your mind of what you would like your life to be, you’ll be able to identify the career goals and intermediate objectives required to make it all happen. Write your goal down, and share it with someone you trust and who can provide support.

Once you decide on a goal for the future, put together a plan to achieve it. Write it down as well! The act of writing out your goal and plan will serve to make it real, and provide incentive for you to take the actions necessary to attain your goal.

You are essentially writing your own life story, so use the same format journalists use when writing for publication:

  •  WHO – Who can help you reach your goal? Do you have a mentor at work? Will the support of a family member give you the courage to proceed? Would a career counselor or recruiter be able to provide a different perspective and advice?
  • WHAT – What action do you need to take personally to put you in a position to achieve your goal? Do you need to learn additional skills? Do you need to communicate more clearly with people in your organization? What can you do right now to make yourself more valuable to your employer or another organization?
  • WHERE – Are in you in the best place for your career prospects? Do you need to change employers – or careers? Is your job a dead-end? Or is there opportunity for advancement within your company that you have yet to take advantage of?
  • WHEN – Give yourself deadlines, or else you may never get started. If you need additional certifications make sure you get them within six months or a year. If you decide a new job is the best way up and out, give yourself a week to update your resume, another week to seek out available positions, and a month to apply for openings.
  • HOW – For every big action you plan to take, write down the smaller steps you will need to accomplish to reach your objective. You can’t jump to the top of the pyramid all at once, so set yourself some intermediate objectives that are more readily attainable, but that incrementally bring you closer to where you want to be.

The hardest step on the road to your personal success is the first step. Many people have no idea of what direction to take on their way to achieving their career goals. This is where an outside counselor or mentor can be invaluable. Don’t be afraid of speaking frankly about your hopes and dreams. The experience and perspective that another person can provide could be just what you need to guide you down the right career path.

Michael Serabian is president of PQNDT, Inc., the NDT and Quality Inspection industry’s leading personnel recruitment and placement agency. For additional information, please contact him at (800) 736-3841, or visit our web site at