Could Your Career Use Some Spring Cleaning? Six Ways to Do It
by Vicky Oliver
Spring is the time of year when we think about renewal and fresh possibilities. It’s also the perfect moment to pause and consider your career. How’s it going? What changes would you like to see? How can you make your work life and your future prospects more appealing?
Your career, like your closets and drawers, could probably use some spring cleaning. Here are six ways to do it.
1. Update your look and brand.
Changing up your personal brand is an easy way to jump start more profound change. Did you ever notice how a new outfit or hair style can energize you? Creating a new image can do the same thing. Start by looking in the mirror and asking, “What kind of message do I want to project?” Maybe you need to dress up your trademark grays and blacks with a surprising splash of color, or your casual look with a tucked-in shirt and jacket. Perhaps you need some high-style glasses, instead of those old horn-rimmed specs you’ve been sporting since college. How you look tells people a lot about your confidence, style, and attitude. But don’t make any heavy duty alterations or you may confuse folks. Add only one or two new items at a time. Don’t revamp your whole look or you may shock those who know and love you best.
2. Change your messaging style.
We all get lazy in our day-to-day communications at work. We make typos in our emails, use silly emoticons in place of heartfelt language, or jot down messages that are hastily written. Now is a good time to clean up your writing. Craft emails with a clear subject heading and only one main idea or question. Use bullet points or numbered lists. Spell-check before you hit send. Keep emails or intranet messages brief. Your coworkers will see you as to-the-point, efficient, and effective–and they’ll pay more attention to what you write. Take care, though, to remember to sprinkle in polite words, such as “please,” “thank you,” and “cordially.” Brevity can be the soul of wit–or can come across as iciness.
3. Expand your knowledge base.
Do you know what big trends are unfolding in your industry? How well have you kept up with them? Commit to spending at least 30 minutes a day reading blogs and articles in your field. Subscribe to some respected publications or newsletters. This is a terrific way to find new ideas for projects, learn what others are talking about, and discover fresh answers and opportunities. While you’re at it, write comments on people’s blogs, and link to the best ones on your social media pages. This gets you in the information stream, opens up networking possibilities, and lets others know you’re out there.
4. Rediscover an old acquaintance.
Look through that stack of business cards you’ve collected over the past few years and find someone whom you’ve been meaning to connect with professionally. Or pore through your social media connections and identify someone intriguing. Reintroduce yourself, tell the person you’d love to catch up, and make a breakfast date. You never know what opportunities could be waiting for you when you reach out.
5. Shine up tarnished relationships.
There’s no doubt someone in your company with whom you’ve had a difficult relationship during this past year, or perhaps a longtime client whom you haven’t checked in on lately. These relationships will unravel if you don’t revive them. Ask your coworker to lunch, or email an article to her that you think she would like. Send a handwritten a note to a loyal client expressing your appreciation, perhaps asking if this person has any particular needs or concerns at the moment that you might help with. A little bit of effort, attention, and courtesy will revitalize old relationships.
6. Spruce up your language.
Do a clean sweep of your speech. Do you say “you know” or “like” all the time? Do you say “thing” instead of hunting for a more descriptive and specific word or phrase? Could your language make a truck driver faint? When was the last time you learned a new vocabulary word? The way that you speak reflects your personality and creates an instant impression with professional colleagues. As long as you’re updating your look, why not change your style of speaking and communicating as well? It may be the single most effective way to polish your image.
Vicky Oliver is a celebrated author renowned for her contributions to career development literature. She’s not only esteemed in her field but also a best-selling author of career-related books.
Oliver’s insightful career advice has been spotlighted in more than 801 media outlets. This includes notable features such as the front page of the New York Times Job Market section, Harvard Business Review, Wall Street Journal, The New York Post, Associated Press, LA Times, Chicago Tribune, and the Philadelphia Inquirer.