Spring may not “officially” be in season quite yet, but that all changes this upcoming weekend. Soon there will be fluffy bunnies, robins, flowers in bloom and leaves on the trees that spent their winter dormant waiting for this moment.
We humans have a tendency to “hibernate” in the winter seasons, preferring to stay indoors where it is nice and toasty, binge watching Netflix and feasting during the holiday seasons. There is nothing inherently wrong with that, but our homes tend to get kind of gross in that period of time. Thusly did spring cleaning become a thing.
Every spring, you can find spring cleaning messages in advertisements online and on television, even the radio if you can tolerate the commercials.
“Woah, hold on there a minute, James,” you may be saying, “What does that have to do with careers?”
Well, random person whom I have never met, yet seem to be able to voice in a static writing…everything!
We are creatures of habits and patterns. Every spring, we clean up our living spaces. Plants and animals go through changes, so we strive for a change ourselves. Many job seekers start looking for a career shift around this time of year, riding the optimism carried by the bright flowers and birdsongs. However, many job seekers do not apply the aforementioned spring cleaning bug to their resumes and other career documents.
Your resume, cover letter and even your LinkedIn profile can grow just as stagnant in the winter seasons as your living space. You grow comfortable with it. You may no longer see where it may need to be cleaned up and changed. Well, time to dust those suckers off and get to work!
Even if you have recently updated your resume, you want to make sure it is as current as possible. Did you take on additional responsibilities at your current position? Did you recently leave a position? Did you move? Change your phone number? These are just the basics in terms of editing your resume, but if you don’t address the basics first, you are basically shooting yourself in the foot.
Your current resume should focus on the last 10-15 years of career experience and development or in your current industry. Take a look at some of the job descriptions for the job title you are looking at getting in your next career move. How much experience do they require? What skills are all of the job descriptions looking for? Use this as a road map for updating your resume that you send out to employers.
2. Master Resume / Application
This is a little different than your resume. A summary of your employment history is modeled after your resume, but includes a few extra details, such as the employer’s address, your supervisor, contact information, starting/ending salary and reason for leaving.
This kind of document is a fantastic tool for interviewing, but also useful for filling out online applications. When it comes time for interviews, have this document with you and ready, and a lot of that pre-interview stress will be mitigated.
Use this template:
Company Dates Worked
Supervisor Name, Title, Contact information
Reason for Leaving:
Private Company, LLC 9/2011 to 4/2014
Private Chef to Mr. and Mrs. John Successful
Confidential Work Location, Any town, USA
Jane Smith, HR Coordinator, 123 Main Street, Any town, USA, (123) 456-7890, firstname.lastname@example.org
Starting Salary: 87,500/year
Ending Salary: 98,000/year plus discretionary bonus
Reason for Leaving: Spouse relocated to San Francisco, CA
3. Cover Letters
Like a great suit, everyone should have more than one cover letter. Ideally, you would write a fresh cover letter for each job, or at least have three or four letters that you can easily adapt to job postings. Have a few that are ready for a quick tweak, especially for an email message. Do not forget to put in extra effort to customize the letter for your dream job. Including research specific to that employer or situation will help you stand out from the other applicants. This applies to follow-up letters and thank you letters as well.
4. Reference List
Rather than stating “references available on request” on your resume, have a prepared reference list. This is a single document that includes three or four professional references and up to three character references. Ideally, you want to select people who would be willing to speak with a potential employer, discussing you, your achievements and the attributes that make you the best candidate for the job at hand. If a written recommendation letter exists from an individual and you plan to add it to your application package, make a note of it on this list.
In fact, when was the last time you communicated with the people on your list? Now is a good time to reconnect. Find out what they are up to and fill them in on all the happenings in your life. If a colleague mentioned writing you a recommendation letter the last time you spoke, then follow-up on their offer. Make it easy for them by directing them to your LinkedIn profile.
Speaking of LinkedIn, once you have finished up your polishing of your other documents, your profile is a great next step, especially if you plan to use it you reconnect with your references. With LinkedIn, you can update any of the information you changed on your resume, naturally, but you will also want to talk to people in your network and strengthening those professional relationships. Get recommended, ask your references and others to endorse your skills and do the same for them. Trust me, it goes a long way.
Need more help with LinkedIn? Check out our free and paid webinars on Eventbrite, HERE
Just clean up your career documents a little this spring. Follow this guide, and you will be sure to get more out of your resume, cover letter and profile than you have been.