18 Career-Boosting Actions That Take 5 Minutes or Less

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During the holidays, things tend to slow down. Invest some time in a few high-impact actions to boost your online visibility and help you start your job search in 2016.

In case you don't know where to start, this list of quick and easy ideas will get you on your way to building your brand, nurturing your network and re-energizing your career.
1. Google yourself. Enter your name in quotation marks in Google's search bar and see what comes up on the first page.

2. Identify companies where you'd like to work. Take a quick assessment of top companies in your desired industry and make a list of the ones that sound interesting. This will serve as a list for future research and tracking the activities of these companies.

3. Reconnect with former colleagues. Send a quick email to a former co-worker. This is a great time of year to wish people a happy New Year and touch base. If you send out a few each day over the next few weeks, the responses you receive won't arrive at the same time, and you'll have time to reply.

4. Send an end-of-year email to your network. Along the same lines, sending an email to your closer friends and associates is a wonderful way to bring your network up to speed on what you're doing professionally. Don't be afraid to insert some personal highlights as well. Close your email with a sentence asking them to update you on their lives or offering your assistance.

5. Update your LinkedIn photo. If you're still using a photo from 10 years ago on your LinkedIn profile, update it with a fresh, contemporary shot. Use a headshot, not a full-body shot, and make sure that you are the only one in the photo. A 400-by-400 pixel photo is ideal, according to LinkedIn. A 20,000-by-20,000 pixel photo is too big. You can do some minor cropping once you've uploaded your picture. ​

6. Audit your LinkedIn profile views. It only takes a few seconds to check how many people have viewed your LinkedIn profile. Consider this your baseline. Once you've made some updates, wait a couple of weeks, then go back to check the number of views your profile received.

7. Try a new social network. Learning how to use a new social network may increase your marketability. Sign up for one you aren't using yet and spend a few minutes playing with the functions and following influential users.

8. Create a reading list of business books. Ask your friends or mentors for book recommendations. You can make your request general or ask for books on a specific topic. Once you've compiled the list, send it to everyone who contributed as a way of saying thanks.

9. Make a wish list. Throughout the year, people have recommended attending events, conferences or training seminars. Put these together on a list. Research dates, locations and costs to help you determine which are feasible for the year. You may even ask your manager whether your company could sponsor some.

10. Invest time in your hobby. Investing in time to yourself can help you feel rejuvenated. Be sure to add time for your hobby to your calendar, so other emergencies don't push it aside. It's fine to be a little selfish once in a while.

11. Order personal business cards. Treat yourself to personal business cards. They are an easy way to share contact information. At a minimum, include your personal email address. You could also include your personal mobile telephone number, LinkedIn profile link or other branding information you want people to know or ask about.

12. Research salaries. You really should know what the going rate is for the type of work you do. Do a quick search using salary calculators. Email a couple of local recruiters as well to get an idea of how much professionals with similar experience and skills are commanding.

13. Organize your desk. It may sound like a procrastination stunt, but decluttering your desk may help you feel less overwhelmed. Chunk this into three smaller increments to keep it manageable. First, set up an online filing system. Second, toss old materials you no longer need. Third, scan important documents you want to keep.

14. Zero out your email inbox. If you feel like a slave to your email, try setting up a system to manage incoming messages. Not only will this save time, it may also reduce stress.

15. Master your calendar. Try putting everything on your calendar. Schedule time every day for specific job-search or career-building activities you know you should do. It's too easy to say that you don't have time to reach out to people or meet for coffee, so build it into your schedule throughout the year.

16. Compile positive feedback. Before you forget or lose the information, collect performance appraisals and testimonials from customers, clients or colleagues. Send the materials to your home email or save it to the cloud and keep it in a brag file. If you want to create a presentation or portfolio of positive feedback quotes in the future, you'll have easy access to this information.

17. Create a bucket list of people you want to meet. Brainstorm a list of industry experts, local movers and shakers or even famous alumni you want to reach. Having this list will help you carry through on making the outreach actually happen.

18. Create a vision board on Pinterest. Search for photos online that represent your ideal future work space or company. Include visual representation of the steps that will lead to your goal, such as winning an Employee of the Month contest, writing an award-winning paper or even attending an industry conference. There may be industry experts you idolize or want to emulate. Add these photos to a job board on Pinterest and keep it somewhere you see every day for inspiration.
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