Here in Minnesota, it won’t be long now before the tulips and other early flowers start to bloom. We have had a remarkably mild winter but even so, tons of dirt and dust builds up in the house. So, as winter comes to a close and the tulips start to poke their green tips, a good spring cleaning always feels great. Brushing things out, opening the windows – it all feels so refreshing.
But there are other things that need spring cleaning too. This year, in addition to your house, it is a good time of year to freshen elements of your career too. Having elements of your career reviewed, updated, and ready to go ensures you can be ready at a moments notice should an opportunity present itself. Jump into spring with a fresh start and check out these tips for spring cleaning your career.
Gather your important career documents into one place. This “place” can be physical or electronic, which ever your prefer. For basic organizing, you need three folders:
- Folder 1 – All your year-end reviews. BTW – if you haven’t started a 2016 list of wins for this year’s year-end, start it now. it is a whole lot easier to capture them now as they happen then to try to recall them at the end of the year.
- Folder 2 – Any and all assessments you have taken. Think Meyers Briggs, Strengths Finder 2.0, DiSC, and others. You can also include any personal reflection, articles or tidbits you have collected that are meaningful to you.
- Folder 3 – Various copies of your résumé and cover letters. I like to keep my old versions just in case I want to refer back to them, or <heaven forbid!>, you lose the copy you are working on and have to start from scratch. Another, alternate tip is to create a master résumé with every bullet you can think of for each role. Then, when you go to apply for a job, you just delete what doesn’t apply.
Finally, this may also be a good time to organize your calendar for a number of career building activities. Such as making time for a set number of networking opportunities each month or a training you would like to take later this year.
There is good reason for pitching things periodically. Like fashion, résumé trends come and go. And, you don’t want to be using a résumé that screams “out of touch.” The following items are “off-trend” and should be purged from your résumé:
- Your address – city and state are fine but even then, not necessary. The most you need is your email and the phone number where you want to be reached (make sure it is only ONE phone number, not all the numbers associated with you).
- Objective statement
- References available upon request
- Interests/activities section (unless it directly relates to the job you are applying for OR you are a recent college grad)
- These words and phrases: Duties include, responsible for, Microsoft Office, experienced (as in “experienced professional…”)
In addition to the list above, take a good, hard look at the length of your résumé. The general rule is one page per 8-10 years. And remember, anything more than 10 years ago, does not hold much weight. So, the further back you go, the fewer bullets you should have for each role. These days, it is a rare résumé that should be greater than 2 pages long. I have no doubt that you have plenty of work history to share, especially if you are a tenured professional. However, chances are slim that what you did in 1998 will be relevant for the role you are applying to today.
LinkedIn is a wonderful tool with many excellent functions for highlighting your best professional self. However, it can easily get out of hand. Just because you can put your entire work history, all your amazing project files, videos, and referrals, doesn’t mean you should. In fact, I would argue that a cluttered LinkedIn profile is just as bad a no profile at all. Take five or ten minutes to clean out the clutter. This can include excessive amounts of narrative in your work history bullets, too many referrals, the college courses you took five (or more!) years ago.
It is a good practice to review and refresh your personal brand and elevator pitch. The personal brand does evolve over time based on many different factors. So, reviewing and updating it periodically ensures that you are managing your brand the way you want it managed. Once you have reviewed your brand, you can also review if your brand statement, or elevator pitch, is fresh as well. Having this in order will ensure you are ready for any networking opportunity that presents itself.
This is also a good time to freshen up your skills. This can be accomplished via a new project at work, a training you want to attend or even volunteer work. There are tons of options if you are open to trying something new.
Last Thought – This spring, do something that refreshes YOU. Don’t stay stuck doing the same old thing. This is the season of rebirth! If you want to do something different, then do something different! If you are you going through a transition, I encourage you to use the metaphor of spring and renewal for yourself. There is so much potential with spring. If you have been thinking about making a change and looking for a reason to do it, the energy of springtime may be just the thing you need. The next three months will pass either way so, take some time to think about what you want to be different and decide how are you going to get there.
Here’s to getting your career “house” in order. Happy Spring!