I spent all of Labor Day weekend cleaning out and organizing my house. It was definitely not the most fun way to spend a long weekend, but it was pretty satisfying to get rid of clutter and finally see the floor of some of my closets.
This is not something I regularly do (thus all the clutter!), but there’s something about the start of a new season that energizes me to finally tackle nagging chores and start with a clean slate.
I especially feel this way at the start of fall: no matter how old I get, the start of a new school year is exciting and feels like a chance to start fresh. Fall is also a peak time for hiring, so there’s no better time to dust off your job search strategy and materials and spend some time cleaning house.
Take the 10 steps below to refresh your job search approach and materials for fall, whether you’re actively job searching or not. Either way, it’s wise to make these updates a few times per year to ensure you’re staying current and prepared in case a great opportunity comes your way!
Update your LinkedIn profile
LinkedIn is always changing, and they’ve accelerated the pace of their updates since they were acquired by Microsoft. Whether you’re job hunting or not, maintaining a current, professional profile on LinkedIn is critical in most professions these days. You should be building and cultivating your professional network consistently – not just when you’re looking for a new job – and LinkedIn is the #1 online tool to do that.
1. Review your background and profile photos. These two photos are the first things people see when they visit your profile, and they will definitely leave a first impression. Make sure that impression is what you want it to be. Your profile photo doesn’t need to be a formal headshot, but it should be high quality, professional-looking, and in line with the formality of your desired industry. And remember to smile – people want to work with friendly, approachable colleagues! If you haven’t updated your profile in a while, you may not have a background photo yet, so make sure to add one to ensure your profile’s complete: here is some guidance about what to choose and where to find an image.
2. Update your headline and summary. After your photos, your headline and summary are the most important parts of your profile. Revisit them at least twice a year to ensure that they align with your current career goals. Make sure to include relevant keywords for the types of jobs you’re targeting, because these two spaces are key drivers for how you come up in LinkedIn searches. Your headline should encourage someone to want to keep reading, and your summary should be a 150-200 word version of your story/elevator pitch that shares key themes from your career, major accomplishments, and the skills that set you apart. Need inspiration? Start here.
3. Check how jobs with the same organization appear. LinkedIn recently made an important update that may impact your profile if you’ve had more than one role with the same organization. Multiple jobs at the same organization are now grouped together under one heading, which visually looks much nicer and allows you to list more jobs in your top five that will appear without viewers having to click to see more. If you previously had multiple roles with one employer listed as separate entries, they should now be automatically grouped together, but it’s worth checking to make sure it looks the way you want. If you had previously combined multiple roles with one employer under one experience heading, you can now break them out without taking up more space on your profile.
4. Edit and add to your experience descriptions. For each role you list on LinkedIn, you should have a three to four sentence description outlining the scope of your role and a few of your key accomplishments, with metrics and results. Similar to your resume, you’ll want to update these as you finish major projects or have other new details to add, to ensure they’re fresh and that they showcase all that you have done.
Refresh your resume
While it’s tempting to let your resume gather dust until you really need it, keeping it updated by capturing new skills and accomplishments as they happen will make it much easier to spring into action should a great new opportunity arise.
5. Add new accomplishments, skills, and activities. You’re accomplishing great things at work all the time, but it’s easy to forget them or let them pass by without writing them down. Get in the habit of noting down key accomplishments regularly (try setting a monthly reminder in your calendar to capture any new “wins”). Then add them to your resume as accomplishment statements and record them in the STAR format so you’ll remember them when it comes time to talk about them in interviews. It will be much easier to remember the details a few weeks after finishing a big project than months or years down the road. And don’t forget to add new skills or experiences too: if you’ve learned a new technology, taken a relevant course, or started a new volunteer role, those are all great things to capture on both your resume and LinkedIn profile.
6. Remove items that aren’t relevant. Just as you’ll want to add new content, it’s important to remove information that no longer supports your career goals. Whether it’s taking off a job in your past that’s no longer relevant, skills or technologies that are outdated, or bullet points that don’t relate to what you currently want to do, make sure that all the content on your resume supports the story you want to tell now. You can always save content in a separate document if you think you may want to use it again in the future.
7. Keep up with keywords. Incorporating relevant keywords into your resume is critical, and it’s good to keep your eye on how they are changing in your industry. Periodically scan job descriptions for roles you’re interested in and note down the key skills and phrases that you see most frequently. Then work on incorporating these into your resume. If you’re actively job searching, use tools like Jobscan to make sure that you’re matching enough keywords from the job descriptions you’re applying to in your resume.
Amp up your networking
While networking should be a year-round practice, it can be tough to get together in the summer with so many vacation plans and other fun distractions. But as everyone settles back into routines for the fall, it’s a great time to ensure that regular networking is a part of your schedule.
8. Catch up after summer. You did fun things over the summer, and so did the people in your network. Make plans to catch up and relive the glory days of summer now that you’re back to reality. This is a natural time of year to reconnect with folks in your network to hear how their summer went and what they have planned for the fall. You can listen for ways to help or support them, and share more about your goals and plans as well, especially if you’re considering a potential career transition.
9. Be active on LinkedIn. Now that you have a snazzy and up-to-date profile, make sure you’re regularly taking some actions on LinkedIn to stay on top of your network’s radar. Post interesting articles about the work you do or would like to do with a comment or pulled quote. Like, share, or comment on someone else’s post (they’ll be grateful!). And regularly review your new connection requests and add people you’ve met to your network. Aim to take at least one to two actions a week, and make sure to review your homepage news feed regularly to keep up with what your contacts are doing and spot relevant news and opportunities with organizations you’re interested in.
10. Attend events. Fall is a busy event season, so take advantage and get out there! Identify events you want to attend, RSVP, and block them out on your calendar now. While networking events are good to target, there are lots of other ways to meet new connections and reconnect with established ones: industry conferences, speaker events, workshops, and meetups to name a few. Events related to your hobbies count too! Do some searching on Google, Eventbrite, and Facebook to find events that fit your interests. And if you’re in Seattle, make sure to check out my Social Impact Networking Happy Hour on September 18th!
I hope these tips help you clean up your job search this fall! If you’d like more support as you update or launch your social impact job search, check out my fall Job Search Bootcamp program for social impact professionals starting on October 11th or contact me about individual job search coaching.