5 steps to get your professional profile in shape for the New Year

Social media for the next few weeks will be flooded with posts about people starting new diets or joining gyms and working on their physical health. The first week of the year inspires people and it is all about fresh starts, but your fresh start does not have to be limited to your physical health. The beginning of the year is a great time to take stock of your professional goals, and also a great time to get your professional profile in shape.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average job lasts 4.2 years, with a small percentage of people staying on jobs more than 10 years. Even if you love your job, the reality is that job security in most situations is no longer guaranteed, and employer/employee loyalty has shifted. It is always a good idea to keep your eye on opportunities, and you always need to be prepared for unexpected job changes.

Here is a list of 5 things you can and should do to get your professional profile in shape for the new year:

  • Write or update your resume.

    When is the last time you’ve updated your resume? Most people only update their resume when they are looking for a new job. However, when you are stressed or considering a big life change is not the best time to write. Your resume should be continuously updated. Accomplishments and new responsibilities should be added as they happen, so you don’t forget them. In short, it’s a good idea to continually update your resume, even if you have no plans to leave your current job. At the very least you should update your resume annually.

  • Create or polish up your LinkedIn profile

    LinkedIn is not just for job seekers. Some people mistakenly believe that their employer might see them active on LinkedIn and worry that they will think they are looking for a job. That is no longer the case. LinkedIn is the best professional networking social media site. It is also a great source of education and industry articles.  It’s also the first place companies go to search for new candidates who are not yet looking for work.  Update your LinkedIn with your current employer, skills and relevant work experience. In addition, it’s always a good idea to ask a few trusted professionals in your network to post a recommendation for you or a testimony about your expertise on your skills. Employers know that to get the most talented people they often have to reach out to those who are currently working. If you do not stay current and up to date with your LinkedIn profile, there is no way for an employer to even be aware of you, and you could be missing out on opportunities.

  • Clean up your social media

    Social media posts leave a very lasting footprint. According to a survey by CareerBuilder, 7 out of 10 employers admit to checking a potential candidate’s social media to do research on them before they make an offer to hire. Further, the study reports that over 50% of employers found information on social media that made them decide to not offer a job to a candidate. It is essential to check the security on your personal social media accounts to ensure your accounts are limited to who you want viewing them. Turn off public posts or make certain that public posts are professional and project the image you want to show the world.

  • Check out current job opportunities

    Looking at current job openings gives you a glimpse into what is trending in your industry or career. Maybe your industry is requiring some new certificate or educational benchmark to advance to the next level, or maybe a new coding language is trending. If you know about it, you can look at opportunities to gain those certificates, or learn that new code. Checking out current job openings when you are not necessarily looking for work allows you to stay up to date and relevant in your field. Some of the best places to look at current openings are LinkedIn ,  Indeed and CareerBuilder.  Another thing you can do is sign up for alerts on job boards like  ZipRecruiter. They will automatically email you notices of jobs based on the criteria you list you are interested in, which saves you the trouble of searching.  

  • Build your professional network

    Networking is not only about finding a new job or a new business opportunity. Good networking is about building trust and credibility in your field.  It’s about meeting and connecting to like-minded people, learning from them, and helping others along the way. Besides asking friends, one of the best ways to network is by growing your LinkedIn presence. One of the best ways to meet new people and add connections is to join LinkedIn groups that are relevant to your field.  Comment on posts in the groups, ask and answer questions, and engage with others and you will soon meet new people and gain connections.

    Other great ways to network is to look on Facebook for local community or business groups. You can also search google for professional groups within your city or town, and start attending them. Twitter is another great spot for networking and building your professional network. The best way to do that is be sincere. Share interesting posts, like comments, retweet articles and you will quickly grow your Twitter network.

When you follow the above steps, you will be well prepared for unexpected job changes. Getting your professional profile in shape as part of your new year’s tradition will also help you stay up to date in your field and makes it easier for potential employers to find you with new opportunities.