This is a great time of year to do a bit of ‘spring cleaning’ for your career. Whether you’re actively on the market, keeping your eyes and ears open, or perfectly happy where you are, it’s always a good idea to keep things fresh.
Ahh, spring… the ice and snow are finally gone. The days are getting longer and warmer. The birds are returning to the backyards. And the first buds of new growth are showing up in the garden.
With our corner of the world coming alive with spring, I’ve been thinking about another kind of renewal.
Here are the four areas I tell my clients to “dust off.”
Give your resume a sweep
Your resume should always be current. Yes, even if you’re happily employed and not planning any changes. First, you never know when circumstances beyond your control might precipitate a move. And second, when it comes to things that should be included in your resume, it’s a lot easier to remember them when they’re fresh.
Update your jobs and responsibilities
Even if your company or title hasn’t changed, your responsibilities may have. Check to see that your most recent job, on your resume and in your life, matches up the way it should. Review the way you describe your responsibilities. Is it still accurate?
Add recent accomplishments
Those achievements – especially the quantifiable ones – are key to a great resume. And these can fall out of date quickly. Add some accomplishments from the past year or so to replace older (or less impressive) ones.
Update any professional development activities
Have you taken any courses over the last little while, or maybe attained a new certification? If they’re relevant to your career, they should be on your resume.
Freshen it up
I’m not a fan of overly fancy or ornate resumes. But a contemporary look and feel, and format, will better showcase your experience and qualifications. If it’s time for a complete overhaul, you might consider a Resume Re-Innovation. My team can help you with that.
Polish your LinkedIn profile
Your online ‘resume’ is just as important in some ways as the offline one. Now’s a great time to make sure that people can find you. And that when they do, they see what you want them to see. Here are a few ways you can make the most of your LinkedIn profile.
It may seem like a small thing, but a new photo on your profile can do a lot to freshen it up. Especially if the one you’ve been using is dated. Consider a professional headshot if you wish, but with the quality of smartphone cameras these days, there’s no excuse to not have a clear, sharp photo that reflects your professionalism.
New headline and summary
Your headline and summary are the most important spaces on your LinkedIn profile, from an SEO (search engine optimization) perspective. This means that when people are searching for people like you, the keywords you include here will help them find you. Ultimately, it will increase the likelihood that they’ll click through to see more about you on your profile.
Make sure the details align with your resume
Since you’ve just updated your offline resume, there’s no better time to make sure that the details on that one line up with the details on LinkedIn. The companies, titles, and responsibilities should all agree, along with the dates for each one. And if you added anything to your resume – like a new certification – do the same here.
Add skills, write a few recommendations
If your responsibilities have expanded recently, you might have new skills to add to your profile. These are great for LinkedIn SEO as well. And while you’re here, see if there are people in your network that might benefit from a well-crafted recommendation from you. This is a good way to show your network some care, but we’ll talk more about that in a moment.
One last note on this topic: if you’re employed, make sure to check your privacy settings. If your network is notified that you’re making a bunch of changes, it could send the signal that you’re looking … whether you are or not. Each time you make a change, you can choose whether your network is notified. Choose appropriately.
Nurture your network
Like any garden, a network needs care and attention to grow. Goodness knows we’ve been avoiding large gatherings – even small gatherings – for too long. That’s a great reason to revive some connections, and make some new ones.
In networking, remember that it’s more about what you can give than what you can get. It changes the conversation entirely if you approach each one thinking about how you can help the other person.
There are almost certainly colleagues you worked with in the past that you haven’t caught up with in a while. So do that. You don’t necessarily need an agenda. Just catching up, sharing what you’ve been up to over the last little while, and hearing the same for them. You never know what sort of opportunities can emerge from conversations like this.
Go to a networking event (or a few)
Maybe it’s an industry association, meeting people in the same field of work as you. Or maybe it’s a more general business community mixer, hosted by a Chamber of Commerce or similar organization. Whatever the case, grab some business cards, step out of your comfort zone, and expand your network with some new contacts.
Have some interviews
If you’re actively on the market, you’re likely doing this already. If you’re not, keeping your toe in the market is still a good idea. There are two reasons. First, interviews – job interviews and informational interviews alike – are a fantastic networking technique. You get to form connections with new people, share your experience with them, and learn more about their work. And second, interviewing is a skill. It gets better with practice, and rusty with disuse. Even if you don’t plan to make any changes in the next little while, you never know when your dream opportunity might land in your lap. You don’t want to go into an important interview when your skills aren’t sharp.
Freshen up your goals and priorities
It’s surprisingly easy in our careers to fall into ‘autopilot’. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that we’re not working hard. We are. It’s just that we tend to be focused on today’s and tomorrow’s priorities (and possibly yesterday’s as well). We don’t always take a moment to stand back and look at the big picture.
When was the last time you set personal and professional goals for the one year mark, or the five year mark? When was the last time you sat down with your goals and evaluated your progress against them? It’s important to hold yourself accountable for the reasons you might not have reached some of your goals. It’s equally important – perhaps even more so – to celebrate your wins. Book some time with yourself to review your goals.
Need some help?
Taking a bit of time each year to freshen things up with a spring cleaning is an important investment in yourself. Just like a thorough dusting, or cleaning out the gutters, but for your career and personal development.
This kind of work is far more effective when you have an objective coach on your team. Someone who can give you objective advice on your resume, to make sure it’s showing off your skills and experience as well as it should, is critical to staying focused. Someone who can point out some opportunities for improvement in your LinkedIn profile. Someone who can walk you through the process of setting goals that really matter to you, and who can help keep you accountable.
If this is something you’d be interested in, I’d love to help. Let’s talk.