Whether you're actively searching for your dream IT job or not, it is wise to "spring clean" your professional persona, giving it a clean polish. This is also a great opportunity for career self-assessment and goal planning.
In trolling the highways and byways of the digital world, I read a lot of career advice always on the lookout for nuggets worth repeating. While perusing Amanda Augustine's March 20 post for The Career Chronicles at job search site TheLadders entitled 3 Ways to Spring Clean Your Job Search, I knew I'd hit paydirt and wanted to pass it onto you, gentle readers. In that post, she begins with some immortal words of wisdom for job searchers in harnessing the power of three:
- Apply for and follow up on online job listings
- Utilize your network of personal and professional contacts to the max (LinkedIn is an ideal venue for this kind of thing, BTW)
- Engage with recruiters as and when it makes sense to do so
But even if you're not actively seeking work right now, this "spring cleaning" advice is worth following, simply because it will make it easier for you to switch from inactive to active status whenever the need (or desire) strikes.
1. Unclutter Your Resume
It's usually a good idea to revisit the old resume (or CV as some like to call it, for curriculum vitae or "courses of life") annually, to flush out the old and bring in the new. Augustine also recommends that you rearrange its contents to showcase your most relevant experience and qualification when you are going after a specific position. She also suggests that as you add new stuff, you be ruthless about trimming out old, no-longer-relevant stuff as well. Her best advice reads: "Edit your resume so it’s no more than two pages and clear off any experience beyond the past ten-to-fifteen years." I would add a suggestion that you incorporate any new certifications earned (or renewed), courses taken, platforms and tools learned, and so forth, as you sweep out the old stuff in your resume to make way for the new.
2. Replenish Your Network
As you refresh your resume, it's also time to do likewise with your personal and professional networks (and here again, ongoing activity on LinkedIn is a great way to keep up, and to keep an eye on peers, colleagues, coworkers, and other professional friends and relations). It's always a good idea to reach out to old friends and colleagues, and to examine your current professional and social networks carefully to trim out the deadwood here as well. It's also a good idea to join – and participate in – professional associations, alumni groups from school and former employers, and other convocations of vocal and like-minded IT professionals. Personal networking need not always be face-to-face, either; Augustine recommends that you "break out your smartphone to keep networking while on the go."
3. Clean Up Your Online Presence
Run a Google search on yourself, and see what's still out there online that shouldn't be, or that's sufficiently outdated to need a new coat of digital paint in the form of a rewrite, new photo, or an updated profile. Augustine advises that you create what she calls a "professional brand” for yourself, and that you raise the security settings on non-professional sites or information (like those toga party photos you posted on Facebook while in college) so that hiring managers and recruiters will be less likely to find them when they go online to check you out (as they most assuredly will). As Augustine puts it in deadpan fashion "this will ensure that employers find the same professional online that they met face-to-face or read [about] in your application."
What else you can do to carry on in this vein depends on your current situation and near-term goals. After spring cleaning, maybe you'll want to perform a career self-assessment and set some new employment, certification, soft skills, and education goals for yourself. Who knows? With the deck of your professional life suitably cleared, and ambitious plans for self-improvement and advancement, you may be in for some exciting opportunities and activities as the rest of the year unfolds.
Ed Tittel is a 30-year-plus veteran of the computing industry, who's worked as a programmer, a technical manager, a classroom instructor, a network consultant and a technical evangelist for companies that include Burroughs, Schlumberger, Novell, IBM/Tivoli and NetQoS. He has written and blogged for numerous publications, including Tom's Hardware, and is the author of over 140 computing books with a special emphasis on information security, Web markup languages and development tools, and Windows operating systems.
Check out Ed's Tom's IT Pro blog Making It in IT - Certification & Training.
See here for all of Ed's Tom's IT Pro articles.