Many cultures have a tradition of cleaning house in the spring. That just makes sense: spring is a time of visible new beginnings, in the form of budding flowers and longer days, and for a lot of us, it’s the first time in months we’ve had the energy to contemplate doing more than the bare minimum. If you’ve been feeling stuck in your career, spring is also the perfect time to dust off your resume and start honing your skills. You could be in a totally different place, professionally, by the time winter rolls round again.
Here are a few chores for the to-do list:
Do you still have an objective at the top, your long-ago graduation year in the middle, and “references upon request” at the end? Get rid of ’em. Nothing makes a candidate look more out of touch than these old-fashioned resume components.
While you’re at it, take a critical look at which jobs you’re listing and how you’re describing them. If you were writing your resume from scratch today, would it look like this? Your personal brand changes over time, as do the jobs you’re interested in pursuing. Make sure your resume is up to the job of getting you hired.
2. Renew old friendships.
If the word “networking” makes you think of name tags and subterranean hotel event spaces, take heart: real relationship building means staying connected to the people who are interested in the things you’re most passionate about. Call an old co-worker you haven’t talked to for a while, or connect with a former boss on social media.
Connected people are happy people. It’s not always about getting a job next month or a recommendation for graduate school next year. Sometimes, it’s about making sure that you’re plugged in to humanity and part of a group. Plus, you never know when you might get an opportunity to help someone else get to where they’re going professionally.
3. Clean up your workspace.
We could debate the merits of messy desks vs. clean desks all day, but even if you’re on Team Slob, the time comes when you can’t lay your hands on an important document when you need it or find a pen that still has ink, and when it does, it’s time to clean. Get ahead of the chaos and carve out some time now.
4. Trim social media connections.
Not every friend or connection is an important one, and while there are varying theories on how far back you should trim your online networks, it’s always worth it to ask whether you’re getting anything out of your connections to people you never interact with online. Bob Woods offers a good guide to connection-pruning strategy on LinkedIn.
5. Edit your work clothes and interview outfits.
When we’re interviewing or starting a new job, we tend to pick our work apparel with care, aware that it makes an impression on the people around us. Then, often, we get comfy and think about work clothes only when the thermostat is set too low again and it’s time to look for our office Snuggy.
During this spring-cleaning season, take a look at your clothes and think about whether you’re dressing for the job you want, as your parents used to advise you, and not just the job you have. You don’t need to go out and buy three-piece suits – in fact, in today’s casual corporate environment, that would probably get you branded the office eccentric. But, spring is a good excuse to take a look at yourself in the full-length mirror and decide whether your clothes reflect the best version of you. (You know, the one who deserves a promotion and a raise.)