20 Ways to Improve Your Career in 5 Minutes or Less

5 minutes to improve your careerAre you ready to make a career change or begin your hunt for a new job? Then these 20 quick yet high-impact actions will give you a boost!

In case you don’t know where to start, this list of quick and easy ideas will help you build your brand, nurture your network and improve 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. Then see how many times you come up in the first three pages. If you don’t show up several times in the first few pages, you have some brand building to do (see more below!)

2. Identify Potential Employers

Identify and assess 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, identifying who to network with, and tracking the activities of these companies (including jobs posted on their site).

3. Reconnect with Past Colleagues, Classmates or Contacts

It’s never too late to touch base. Send a quick email to people you haven’t talked to in awhile, like your college classmates. Space your messages out over the next few weeks so that the responses you receive won’t arrive at the same time and you’ll have time to reply.

4. Send an “Update” 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 years ago on your LinkedIn profile, update it with a fresh, contemporary shot. A few simple reminders. Use a headshot, not a full-body shot. Have a simple background. No selfies. Smile. No sunglasses. Dress appropriately for the job you are interested in. And make sure that you are the only one in the photo. A 400-by-400 pixel photo is ideal, according to LinkedIn.

6. Audit Your LinkedIn Profile Views

It only takes a few seconds to check how many people have viewed your LinkedIn profile. Consider this a baseline number to improve on. Once you’ve made some updates, wait a couple of weeks, then go back to check the number of views your profile received. Here’s what you need to know about your visibility on LinkedIn.

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. Looking for some ideas…try Instagram or Snapchat.

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. (Here is one of my lists top recommended career books)

9. Make a Wish List

Over the past few months, people may 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 you to attend this time around. You may even ask your manager whether your company could sponsor your attendance.

10. Invest Time in Your Hobby

Investing in 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 awhile.

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 how much other people in your field or occupation are earning. Do a quick search using salary calculators. Also email a couple of local recruiters 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 project 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 and upload them to your computer.

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. Creating your bucket list will help you carry through on making the outreach actually happen.

18. Create a Vision Board on Pinterest

vision board is collection of images that represent a future goal. 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 your “dream job” board on Pinterest and print and post the page somewhere you see every day for inspiration.

19. Create a Fresh New Email Signature for Your Personal Email

Your personal email signature is a great branding opportunity but most people overlook this. Include a link to you LinkedIn profile, phone number and tag line or branding statement- just in case! Here’s more help for spiffing up your email signature.

20. Fix Your Online Visibility

If you search for your name using Google (as mentioned in #1) and the best information doesn’t appear at the top of the results,  you can fix it! It takes some time, but with a few simple steps, you can begin improving the results for your name.

 

 

Career Sherpa

 

HannahAbout the Author: Hannah Morgan is a career sherpa, guiding new job seekers through the treacherous terrain of job search. If you are looking for no-nonsense advice, check out her site Career Sherpa, and follow Hannah on Twitter for the latest job search news and trends!

 

 

 

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