Spring means a time of rebirth and starting over. If your career feels like it’s been frozen under a snowbank for way too long, here are some great tips for renewing your job prospects.
Ready to put a few new buds and branches on your career journey? It require a little bit of time with your hands in the dirt. Get started with one of these ideas:
1. Clean Up Your Desk and Move Up That Ladder
In addition to helping you sort through all your old t-shirts, Marie Kondo’s KonMari tidying methodology can organize your workspace. Find what does (and doesn’t) bring you joy about all those files you’re keeping in drawers, those old notebooks, half-dead pens and stacks of Post-its.
Give your desk a solid cleaning, focusing on:
- Germs: Let’s wipe all those flu nasties away, shall we?
- Appearances: What kind of impression are you making when your boss drops by?
- Organization: Get those piles into organizational groups that make sense to how you use them.
- Inspiration: How will what you have on and in your desk help your creativity flow?
You could uncover great ideas you jotted down ages ago, or notes on a project that can now finally move forward. Look at what you find as you clean. If it’s helpful for your career, take note of it. You might even discover a wee bit of happiness and productivity while you’re at it.
2. Give That Resume a Spring Refresher
Think of your resume as a work in progress — just like your career. Take time this spring to dust off your resume or CV and give it a good once-over.
Ways you can improve your resume right now include:
- Adding recent accomplishments, job duties, or even recent jobs you’ve held.
- See where your resume is lacking in skills, volunteer work or career development.
- Change up your organization or design for a brand-new look and feel.
- Cut out old job experience or details that aren’t relevant to your job search.
- Have a friend or colleague give it a review and see what they say about how it reads.
3. Get Outside and Network Over Coffee
It’s spring! You shouldn’t need another reason to take a break and walk around outside, but here’s one that could also boost your job prospects. Make a coffee date and get networking.
What makes networking so good for your career? You can use new connections to learn about career paths you hadn’t considered. Or you can talk to the person about new projects they’re working on or advances in their field they’re excited about. And yes, you can even talk to them about openings where they work. But networking isn’t 100 percent about asking for work. It should be about making connections (sometimes called “friendships”).
“Good networking with high profile individuals from the same career path can serve as support whenever there is any eventuality at any time,” writes Bianca Miller Cole at Forbes. “These high profile individuals can help you manage your challenges effectively by either giving you advice or linking you to the right financial support.”
4. Learn Something New
Classes don’t have to be geared toward finally getting that certification. You can choose to learn something because it interests you — and wind up boosting your career in the process.
This doesn’t mean that you should run out and enroll in every class at the adult learning annex in town (though one or two could be cool). But the process of learning something new can be its own reward.
Ways you can keep learning and improve your career include:
- Languages: Adding a language to your skills not only helps your resume, but also keeps your mind sharp. It also could boost your prospects if your company operates in other countries.
- Future Job Skills: Hold off the robots by keeping up your skills with emerging technologies. Study new concepts in artificial intelligence and cloud computing to stay ahead of the curve.
- Software Specializations: Ever wish you were better at using software you only dabble in at work? Take a course to become an expert. Your company might even offer free classes.
- Just for Fun: Branch out and get some skills in something that engages different parts of your brain than spreadsheets do. Try something hands-on, offline or even physical if that can make you mentally healthy and happy.
- For Your Health: If we’ve been sitting all day, adding in a class like a bit of cardio or a sport can be a huge boost to your mental game at work and your ability to, you know, stay alive for a while longer, too.
Learning shows that you’re interested in growing as a human being, and in turn, as an employee. Even if you’re out there learning tennis or weaving in your spare time, you’ll have interesting things to talk about at work when the big boss asks how your weekend went. Or you can pull out a few magic tricks for the company talent show and make a name for yourself. You never know where new skills will take you.
“Those who dedicate themselves to learning and who exhibit curiosity are almost always happier and more socially and professionally engaging than those who don’t,” writes John Coleman at the Harvard Business Review. “I suspect those you admire most, both personally and professionally, are those who seem most dedicated to learning and growth.”
5. Get Outside Your Comfort Zone
Do you telecommute or freelance full-time? If so, you might not get see much of the “real world” in your day-to-day life — and your career might be suffering as a result. Instead of working from the home office in your sweats, try a few new location options.
Go cheap: When budgets are tight, working from a local business can be a good way to get out, but not shell out a lot in office rents Try the ubiquitous coffee shop every now and then (and tip well), or even local spaces like public libraries, grocery store cafes or parks. You won’t believe where you can get a free WiFi signal these days.
Go team: If you dream of a real office with unlimited coffee, think about investing in a co-working space in your town. Not only will you be supporting another business, but you’ll be able to network, connect and just be around other professionals. You might find a future project partner or collaborator in the bunch, or even solve a business problem without diving into your social media every three minutes.
Go specific: Want to make your outside-the-home workspace special? Women can choose a female-oriented co-working space that empowers working women. Anyone can join special idea incubator or accelerator co-working spaces that aim to help entrepreneurs thrive.
6. Set a New Goal
If your career-based New Year’s resolutions have long since fallen by the wayside, now’s a great time to restart them. Think about what you wanted to get out of those changes back in January: what still applies now? Maybe you wanted to start looking for a new job, or connect with a headhunter or recruiter. Or perhaps you just wanted to make sure you set good goals for the year (and then promptly forgot about them). Get your head on straight as to how you want 2019 to end. We’re only a third of the way through. There’s plenty of time for career magic.
Have your goals changed? Where has that finish line moved to? If you got a promotion recently, that doesn’t mean your career journey has ended. You’re just on a new path. Take stock of where you are and get going on those awesome goals. You could also work with a career coach or a mentor to set good career goals you can work toward (and have some accountability).
If you need to sit down and write down your professional goals and what it will take to get there, do it! Think of it as a career journal, or even a job dream board. Putting your goals down on paper is a great way to make them matter and to track your progress over time. Maybe try a bullet journal.
7. Find Out What You’re Worth
One of the biggest goals for career change is getting paid more, right? But if you don’t know how your pay stacks up, you might be earning less than you should. Check out PayScale’s Salary Survey to see just what you’re worth and what employers in your area are paying. You can also research other careers that might pay more, if you’re up for a change.
TELL US WHAT YOU THINK
What are you doing to boost your career this spring? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.