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A periodic review of your employment history enables you to assess your career objectives and professional development activities throughout the years. If you don't have one already, start a file that contains your professional accomplishments and at regular intervals, you can review your achievements. This practice allows you to map your professional track as your career progresses.

Consult online resources, and if necessary, conduct research regarding the process to obtain a copy of your employment file. Your current employee handbook should contain a written policy describing how employees obtain copies of personnel documents. Follow the instructions carefully so you can review your complete file. If you have previous employers, check for their policies on requesting a copy of your personnel file from other companies. Be prepared to pay for photocopies or request your previous employment files via written request or using certified or registered return service mail. There's no federal law that requires an employer to photocopy your file or allow you to view your employment history; however, many employers, in good faith, permit former employees to do so.

Print a copy of your resume and any previous versions of it. Arrange your resume copies in chronological order, starting with your earliest employment experiences. Study your accomplishments, education and professional achievements. It may be helpful for you to create a separate list for each area -- accomplishments, education and professional experiences -- so you can view your career path in its entirety as though you are creating a functional summary of your professional expertise. This exercise could be especially helpful for women considering a return to the work force. Concerned Women for America states: "Studies also show that highly-qualified women can jump off the fast track and then catch up when they are ready to jump back on. It’s called “off-ramping;” increasingly, talented women who want to balance career and family are taking that route." Taking an inventory of your previous employment history will give you a competitive edge should you decide to make changes to your employment status.

Review copies of your employment files and separate documents regarding your past performance according to functional areas or chronologically. Draft your professional goals for one year, five years and 10 years. Analyze your accomplishments with a critical eye and assess how your past accomplishments prepare you for future professional goals. If you have an opportunity, seek the services of a professional career coach to view your employment profile. You may want to use this time to determine if you want to continue in your current field or explore options with another employer or career paths within another industry.



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