Navigating a career crossroads

Man making decisions illustration

Assess where you are to help you get where you want to go.

The start of the new year is a time when people often take an honest look at their lives and vow to make positive changes. Like many professionals, you may be focusing on your career and considering how to move it forward in the year ahead.

Does that mean pursuing an employment opportunity at another company? Choosing a new specialty area? Staying put at your current company? How can you determine the right choice for you?

When standing at a career crossroads, you need to give careful thought to the consequences of your actions. Take into account your unique situation and the potential benefits of making -- or not making -- a change. Following are some questions to consider during this process:

What motivates you? Think about what you like most about your current job. Reflect upon the highlights of your career. You may discover a pattern in your top selections. Take note of the factors that are most important to you and then consider whether they are available at your present employer. Sometimes small changes, such as volunteering for more diverse assignments, can make all the difference in job satisfaction.

What are your weaknesses? Next, honestly assess your professional shortcomings. If you want to get ahead, you may need to address these. For example, if you hope to move into a management role, consider whether your communication and leadership skills are as strong as they could be. You might enroll in classes to build your expertise and become a better candidate for a promotion.

What do others think? Ask trusted colleagues and mentors for feedback on your plans. What you perceive to be assets or liabilities could be viewed differently by others. You may believe you should focus on finding purely specialized positions, for instance, while those around you see a natural talent for project management.

How can you get involved? Regardless of what type of career path you decide to pursue, it's beneficial to get involved with professional and business associations. Playing an active role in these groups can help you expand your network, learn about important trends and stay motivated when faced with roadblocks to achieving your goals.

With thorough self-evaluation, you can be confident you're making the right career decisions. Take the time to think about your preferences and options carefully. You'll set yourself on a course for greater professional fulfillment in 2013 and beyond.

With more than 100 locations worldwide, Robert Half Technology is a leading provider of technology professionals for initiatives ranging from web development and multiplatform systems integration to network security and technical support. Robert Half Technology offers online job search services at Follow Robert Half Technology on Twitter at