What is Career Success?


Kathy Lavinder, CFE
Owner and Executive Director of Security & Investigative Placement Consultants  
There is no doubt fraud fighters wear white hats and should take pride and pleasure in their work to prevent, detect, and bring to justice those who victimize people and organizations.   While it’s easy to tally up the monetary results, amounts saved or recovered, don’t miss sight of the really important ways to measure your work in fraud prevention, detection, and investigation.

So how should we evaluate career success?  If you’re in a reflective mood, here are some things to think about:

Consider your impact – How has your work improved lives, the operations of businesses and organizations, and altered the course of events?

Consider your initiatives – How have you imagined new solutions for old problems or taken the lead on an issue or concern that others have ignored or failed to adequately address?

Consider how your peers view you – Have you found productive ways to work with co-workers?  Have you been open to the ideas and suggestions of your colleagues and supported them?

Consider the work you still need to do – Do you need to work on some weakness or shortcoming? Are you still actively engaged in the fight against fraud? Do you remain fired up to make a difference?  Clearly, a fraud fighter’s work is never finished.

Consider your legacy – When you decide it’s time for a new career challenge, retirement, or just a new chapter in life, how will your work be evaluated by honest critics? Will they still talk about you after you’ve gone?

Now think about what is missing from this list. There’s no mention of impressive titles, lavish praise, prestigious awards, or extremely generous compensation. Taking on the mantle of the fraud fighter may not result in any of these things. Will you still be a career success? That’s a question that everyone must answer for themselves.

In a society where social media outlets provide so many opportunities for self-aggrandizement maintaining a clear understanding of personal values is vital.  Know what is important to you in your career and don’t be distracted by the flashy and noisy.   Don’t become so enamored of yourself that your LinkedIn profile describes you as a “visionary” or “unique” or “a thought leader.”  Let others employ those grand phrases to describe you — if they think you’re deserving.

When you’ve finished mentally evaluating your work, make some notes.  You can go back to them in six months, a year, or more, and take stock of what you’ve written.  You’ll see where you were at that moment in time and it may help you decide where you need to go.  If you’re in the process of updating your resume, your notes can serve as talking points to plug into the latest iteration.

Socrates said “the unexamined life is not worth living,” so you may want keep this in mind as you do a career success checkup along the way.