It turns out, 72% of U.S. householdsspring clean every year. The annual ritual of tidying up your home is a healthy habit that improves your way of life, increases your productivity, and provides you with a serious self-esteem boost.
Just like you take care of your home each spring, take this time to spruce up your career to make the very best out of it. Here are the eight moves to spring clean your career.
1. Search Your Name on the Web
According to Google, its users do 100 billion searches per month, which adds up to about 1.2 trillion searches per year. What's even more surprising is that it has been estimated that 30% of searches on Googleare job-related.
What are those people searching for your name finding? Hopefully, it's important websites, publications, or projects that can help you land your next position, or land a promotion. Find out what is currently available under your name so that you can be prepared for questions about those search results, ask not to be mentioned in undesirable places, and build up your online presence. Besides Google, search your name on other search engines, including Yahoo and Bing.
2. Buy Your Name as a Domain
An effective way to establish a hub for your online presence is to purchase your own domain name. Take me as an example. If you look for "Damian Davila" you will find two main individuals: a talented drummer/photographer, and an experienced personal finance writer. While I enjoy the surf photographs of my doppelgänger, I want to make sure that people learn more about my writing when looking up my name. That is why I bought my own domain name, DamianDavila.com and plan to use it to showcase my writing portfolio.
Owning your own domain name allows you stand out from the crowd, particularly when you have a very popular name. Keep in mind that it may take some time to be able to buy your domain name — in my case it took two long years until it became available!
3. Clean Up Your Social Media Accounts
Speaking of search results and websites, you'll notice that social media accounts rank heavily on all search engines. For example, when looking up my name on Google, three out of the nine results from the first page are links to social media accounts.
While you may think that your private business is for your eyes only, be aware that 35% of employers who screen via social networks have requested to become a friend or follow candidates who have private accounts. Depending on the details on the position that you're applying for, your potential employer may have a valid concern for your online activity. Don't let an inappropriate comment or photo become an obstacle in your path to career success.
4. Invest in a Professional Headshot
While most recruiters recommend that you don't include a photograph when submitting your resume, most social media sites, company directories, and PR organizations do request a headshot. Take the time — and the expense — to get a professional headshot. You can hire a professional photographer, ask a favor from your photog friend or relative (do return the favor when they ask!), or request one from the HR department of your company.
Be prepared for those times when your boss wants to make an announcement of your promotion in the local newspaper, you want to show yourself in your own domain name, or you submit an article for a website as a guest blogger.
5. Edit Your LinkedIn Profile
Also, 94% of recruiters use LinkedIn to source and vet candidates, making this professional network a great opportunity to showcase your work skills and career history. What do recruiters find on Linkedin when looking up your name? If your name doesn't show up, you could be making the life of that recruiter a bit more difficult. Beef up your LinkedIn profile by:
- Growing your professional network with peers in your company and industry, alumni from your alma mater, or individuals sharing your interests in LinkedIn groups;
- Including links to any publications, presentations, or projects that are available online;
- Request recommendations from current or past clients, supervisors, peers, or teachers, and;
- Demonstrating your analytical and writing skills through articles that you have written.
6. Touch Up Your Paper Resume
Despite the popularity of online resumes, some employers and recruiters still stick to paper resumes. Tailor your application to the details laid out on the job post. Insisting on emailing a URL to your domain name or LinkedIn profile instead of mailing out a printout of your resume via regular mail when the recruiter clearly indicated so, is the fastest way to get your application ignored completely. Here are some tips:
- Be prepared for requests of paper resumes by formatting yours so it prints nicely on a standard sheet of 8 x 11 paper.
- Test out the printout before sending a file via email.
- Keep both Word and PDF versions of your resume because some employers prefer one format over the other.
- Maintain a text-only version of your resume for those times that you have to copy and paste your resume into an HR online portal.
7. Work on Your Elevator Pitch
Comedian George Burns said it best, "The secret of a good sermon is to have a good beginning and a good ending; and to have the two as close together as possible." Brevity in writing and speech is very powerful and makes you look centered and well-prepared. Take a cue of from startup entrepreneurs and develop your own elevator pitch, which is a succinct and persuasive sales pitch that will lead into a deeper dialogue about what you can offer. Test your elevator pitch with people that you trust so they can offer you feedback. And fine tune your elevator pitch until you can deliver it effectively over the phone, in person, or via email.
8. Learn a New Skill That Employers Want
Many organizations have well defined salary payscales with specific requirements, so take the time to investigate what those requirements are. Unless they involve longevity in the company, you can work in attaining them in a shorter amount of time.
Some examples are completing a teaching certification, finishing modules towards a professional license, accumulating hours in a list of job-related assignments, or attending a series of industry-required seminars. By completing those skills, you're effectively not only improving your chances of a promotion or salary bump, but also making yourself more desirable to other potential employers.