Spring cleaning is not just for your house. It can also be used for your career. Spring is a great time to dust off the cobwebs of your professional brand to make it stronger. If you want more opportunities this year, you must spruce up your brand. Here are my five tips towards spring cleaning your career.
Review your mission statement
You have to have a centralized focus in order to make any kind of progress. Before you spruce your resume and LinkedIn profile, write down what your mission statement is. What do you what to accomplish? There are too many people aimlessly wandering throughout their lives and careers. Don’t be one of them! You need to have a roadmap in order to (safely) arrive at your destination. A solid mission statement serves as the guide for the rest of your career package.
Dust off your resume
Your resume is a dynamic document not a static one. Therefore, you must update it at least twice a year. Have you done anything new this year? If so, is it on your resume? The biggest mistake people make is that they update their LinkedIn profiles but not their resumes. This is a grave error because most potential employers request your resume before viewing your LinkedIn profile. Therefore, if key information is missing then you will not be considered although you have the experience. Your resume and LinkedIn profile should have the same current information on it. If these documents aren’t aligned, then you can be missing out of numerous opportunities. Furthermore, some employers may think that you are trying to hide something.
Ensuring that your resume is properly formatted is another key consideration. Make sure that all of your fonts are legible and scannable. Yes, sometimes you want to try out the newest fonts available, but I recommend that you learn if they are scannable. If they aren’t, then the computer databases cannot read your resume and you’re automatically disqualified from the job.
Finally, please remember that your resume is not an autobiography. It should be longer than 2 pages. It should have all relevant information. Although some experts say up to 10 years, if you’ve experienced a lot of career change, then certain positions are irrelevant even though they fit the 10-year time frame. For example, you have been in the workforce for ten years and you are now a mid-career professional. There is no need to continually list your undergraduate internship just because it fits in the 10-year time frame. Your resume should serve as a snapshot. That internship can stay on your LinkedIn profile.
Update Your LinkedIn Profile
I must start this section off with a bold statement regarding photos:
Stop it with the cookout, selfie, driver’s side and Glamour Shot profile photos! No potential employer wants to see you (and your seat belt) as your LinkedIn profile photo. Selfies are not professional photos. Please take the time and money to invest in a couple of professional photos. Your personal brand is at stake!
Whoosa! I have seen far too many people upload camera phone photos on LinkedIn. These make you look very bad. There are several places (Sears, JC Penney’s, Walgreens, etc.) that offer affordable business professional photo options. Remember, every photo taken is not multi-platform. This is LinkedIn not Instagram.
Your LinkedIn profile format is important too. Make sure that you have uniformity in bullets, numbers and italicized words. Another thing I would recommend is requesting new recommendations from LinkedIn connections. Having new recommendations increase your visibility. In addition, if you have received a new certification, completed a new report and given a new presentation, then upload it onto your profile. LinkedIn now has those capabilities. Moreover, you can upload your presentations onto SlideShare which is owned by LinkedIn for greater visibility.
Finally, you can optimize your name field by adding a few certifications and degrees. For instance, my name is Carla Jenkins, MBA, PMP. One or two is enough. You don’t want to go overboard listing every certification that you’ve acquired. Although I have CAPM and CSM, I don’t list them because you want your name field to be crisp instead of jumbled. More importantly, listing all of these certifications might make you appear as a professional test taker instead of someone with real-world experience. Employers do value certifications, but they also expect work proficiency.
Conduct a Gap Analysis
Ask yourself this question: right now do you have the skills necessary to realize your mission statement? If the answer is no, what classes do you need to take in order to acquire those skills? Make a list of things that you need to obtain. I would recommend joining a local Meetup.com group. These are one of the cheapest ways to acquire new skills. There is a Meetup for everything. Every Meetup has people who already work in the fields and companies you aspire. This is a built-in network right there. These participants know all of the players and the ways to infiltrate the system. Moreover, Meetup workshops are cheaper than the average continuing education course. Meetups allow you to mind the gap and your wallet at the same time. Here is my article on Self-Investment is the Best Investment where I list other low-cost options towards. You can check it out here: http://positivitychange.com/2015/10/this-week-in-positive-change-management-self-investment-is-the-best-investment/
Hire a Professional
There is nothing wrong with hiring a resume writer or career counselor to spruce up your resume, LinkedIn profile or personal brand. Remember, you only have a limited amount of hours in the day to do everything. You can research your options or ask your colleagues if they have had someone revamp their profiles. I would recommend visiting the Better Business Bureau so that you don’t get scammed out of your hard earned money.
These 5 recommendations will help spruce up your professional brand now and well beyond springtime. Visit PositivityChange for tips to manage positive change effectively in your personal and professional lives.