Spring cleaning may seem like an odd term when it comes to your career. But just as spring cleaning your home is invigorating and inspires further activities, revisiting your career annually can do the same.
Take these steps this spring and see what a difference it will make towards achieving your career goals:
1. Dust off your resume
Even when you’re in a job that you love and have no intention of leaving, it pays to update your resume each year. Who knows, a dream job opportunity may arise unexpectedly, you may be given a chance to speak at an event or want to undertake some study and need a current resume for your application.
And of course, if you’re looking for work or want to change career or employers, you’ll definitely need an up to date resume.
If nothing else, it will be a real boost to review everything you’ve achieved in the last year and see how far you’ve come.
So open up your resume and do this:
- Add any new jobs that you did in the past year
- If you’re still in the same job role, update any changes to your responsibilities, focus or tasks
- Add in any volunteer positions or special projects that you’ve undertaken
- Add in any qualifications, education or training courses that you undertook or are currently studying. Also add relevant short courses, workshops and professional development activities.
- Review your purpose statement, overall description and hobbies or interests. TIP: Make sure these are all relevant and appropriate for your current career goals.
- Consider minimizing the details of older past positions to one line or even removing them altogether. This is important as you progress in your career – is your casual after school job from 15 years ago still relevant to your career today?
- Finally, review the look of your resume. If you’re not the best at making documents look professional, ask a friend, colleague or family member to help.
2. Spruce up your skills and knowledge
Choose from the 3 options below and follow the steps in the category that’s appropriate to your career:
Option 1: You are employed with an employer you’re happy with and have a professional development plan.
- Review your plan to determine the next steps required to undertake the agreed professional development activity.
- Take a small action today that will get the activity started. Examples may be to do a Google search for a workshop provider, phone a training organisation to enquire about qualification details, join an industry membership site.
- Just do it! You already have a plan in place so now’s the time to starting things ticked off the list and move forward with the professional development you need.
Option 2: You are employed with an employer that you’re happy with but don’t have a professional development plan.
- Make a meeting time with your manager to discuss your professional development.
- With your manager, identify what technical skills and knowledge you need to update for your particular job role or industry. Alongside technical job skills and knowledge, you’ll need to think about the other skills that we all need – communication skills, conflict resolution, team work, digital technology etc.
- Identify professional development activities that will help you obtain the skills and knowledge that you’ve agreed upon with your manager. These could include reading industry publications, joining a professional industry association or membership site, attending a webinar, short course or workshop and undertaking or updating a relevant accredited qualification.
- Find out whether your employer will cover the cost (if there is a cost) of these activities.
- If you need to self fund these activities, find out what funding options are available. For example, with accredited qualifications there is often government funding available.
- Refer to Option 1 above for the next steps.
Option 3: You want to change your employer or career path or currently don’t have a job.
When you are self-directing your career, you will need to do your own research to identify your own career goals and the steps that are required to achieve these. Try these websites:
- Seek out advice from mentors, careers advisors, course advisors and trusted colleagues
- Follow the steps in Option 2, to form your own professional development plan (without a manager’s input) and to put the plan into action.
Professional development planning takes time and effort but will pay dividends in helping you be focused and achieve your career goals more quickly.
3. Polish up your LinkedIn profile
Just checking, you do have a LinkedIn profile, right? If not, stop everything and go over to LinkedIn and follow the steps on the screen to create one straight away. LinkedIn is your online resume and social media platform for professional people.
Ok, so like your resume, your LinkedIn profile needs to be updated at least once a year:
Do the following to position yourself for opportunities that will suit your current career goals:
- Check your photo. Is it professional (selfies and party pics are not suitable for LinkedIn)? Is it current (less than a year old)?
- Do you have a header photo or need to update it? Most of the header photo is covered by your profile details however it does add an opportunity to stand out and showcase something relevant for your career. Something like a desk might be suitable for managers or brightly coloured pencils for teacher’s aides.
- Review your summary. Talk about how you can help others who connect with you. In this section, you don’t need to summarise your career history – be interesting and engaging.
- Check your job role details, tasks, special projects, education, professional development and training details. Refer back to the resume section of this article for a full list and update all these details on your LinkedIn profile.
- Finally, whilst you’re on LinkedIn why don’t you look up some people you know or want to connect with and reach out to them. Also you could join a group or two that is relevant to your industry and connect with these communities as part of your professional development.
4. Declutter your workspace
No matter whether you’re a desk-bound worker, work in aged care facility, in a classroom or any other setting, clutter can build up and stop us from being as productive and organised as we want to be. You can even find yourself wasting time looking through things trying to locate what you need, getting distracted or side-tracked or buying things you already had if your workspace is out of control.
To get rid of clutter:
- Set aside a limited and reasonable amount of time for this – 10 minutes each day for a week or a half hour block of time will be sufficient to make a difference.
- Enlist the help and/or approval of your boss and co-workers (if applicable)
- Sort through your documents, supplies, filing cabinets, drawers, storage cupboards quickly. Make speedy to decisions to:
- Keep – if you need the item and use it all the time, obviously keep it.
- Give Away – if you don’t need an item or use it any longer, return it your workplaces storage area, give it to a colleague that needs it or donate it an op shop or similar. Obviously check that this is ok with your employer first.
- Throw Away – if it’s rubbish or not useful to anyone, don’t keep the item or document, just throw it away.
- File or Store It – if you don’t use the item often, there’s no need to keep it in your immediate workspace. Find the appropriate storage area for it and move it there for the future.
TIP: The key to successful decluttering is to make quick decisions and not procrastinate. Enlist help if you struggle in this area!
5. Give your career some inspirational shine
Visual reminders are great for keeping you motivated and positive about your career. Google them, print these off, save them on your phone or to your desktop, laminate them, stick them on your computer, in your diary or do whatever it takes to keep you inspired about keeping your career on track.
So that’s it! Block out some time this week and take the steps above to spring clean and reinvigorate your career.