Spring Cleaning for Your Career

careerHappy spring! As we shed our winter coats, hats, and scarves, now's a good time to also shed some of our old habits that may be impeding our careers from moving forward. Have you been managing your career the same way for years or not managing it at all?

Here are some "spring cleaning" tips help you move out of last season and jump-start your career.

  1. Go to lunch. I meet a lot of people who never take a lunch break because they are too busy working. Don't make this mistake. The lunch hour is a great time to solidify relationships with colleagues, mentors, friends, and family. More lunch buddies means more networking and potentially more job opportunities down the road. Try to eat with different people over the course of a month and get in the habit of introducing people over lunch. Be a connector so people will want to connect you to others in the future.

  2. Get a hobby. Everyone has interests outside of work. But many people find excuses for not pursuing hobbies and activities. Having a hobby helps build affinity with others. Running clubs, knitting clubs, book clubs, etc. help people bond and develop trust. Friendship grows out of trusting relationships. The more friends you have, the greater the likelihood that they will share information about professional opportunities that may interest you.

  3. Join a professional association. Professional associations offer many great opportunities to connect with colleagues. Find an appropriate association in your field and do more than just show up. Offer to work the registration table at an event, contribute content to the association's newsletter, or be part of a panel for an upcoming event. Involvement leads to familiarity, and familiarity leads to opportunities sourced through other members of the association.

  4. Reconnect with old friends. Friends are usually flattered when you take the time to find them and learn about what they are doing. Try to find old schoolmates through Classmates or your college's alumni directory. BrightCircles is helpful for trying to find previous work colleagues. Facebook is also a great tool for finding friends -- and it's not just for college kids anymore.

  5. Get organized. As you build your list of new contacts, organizing their information can be a bit overwhelming. Use an electronic career management tool such as JibberJobber to keep your information current and at your fingertips.

  6. Update your resume. Don't wait until you find the perfect posting online or meet the right decision-maker at a networking event. Always have an updated resume ready to send to your contacts. If you need help crafting the perfect resume, check out Emurse for tips.

  7. Get online. If a recruiter or hiring manager wanted to know more about you, would they be able to find you online? Put your full name in quotes on Google or another search engine and find out what information is available about you. If there is nothing there or you don't like what you see, start creating a Web presence using tools such as Linked In, ZoomInfo, and Ziggs.

  8. Go on an informational interview. One of the best ways to learn more about opportunities in your field or another field you are considering transitioning into is to talk to people who are currently doing the type of work you think you would like to be doing. In an informational interview, any question is fair game, and you can receive authentic answers to what it's really like to be in a particular professional role. These types of interviews help you validate your perceptions about a certain profession and adjust your career aspirations based on the information you receive.

Try to implement at least one of these suggestions this spring and find ways to incorporate other strategies into your career-management plan throughout the rest of the year.

Next:Five Free (Or Almost Free) Ways to Help Your Job Hunt >>

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