BY ERIN EWART
There’s something about the start of a new season that always 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 this is a great time to dust off your job search strategy and materials and spend some time cleaning house.
Take the steps below to refresh your approach and materials for fall, whether you’re actively job searching or not. Whatever your plans, it’s wise to make these kinds of updates regularly (we recommend at least twice a year) to ensure you’re staying current and prepared in case a great opportunity comes your way. Think of it like preventative maintenance for your career!
Update your LinkedIn profile
LinkedIn is always changing. Whether you’re job hunting or not, maintaining a current, professional profile on LinkedIn is critical 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. In addition to 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 career story that shares key themes from your career, major accomplishments, and the skills that set you apart. Need inspiration? Start here.
3. Update your experience section. Make sure you have a brief description for each of your past roles (we recommend a few sentences), describing the scope of your role and a few major accomplishments. This is not the place to copy/paste everything from your resume, but it is important to give some context about your work and this is another way to integrate keywords to help your profile come up in searches. It’s also a good time to add or update new projects or accomplishments you’ve recently completed, remove any experience that is no longer relevant for your current career goals, and add any new experiences that you’d like to highlight, like volunteer or project work that aligns with your career interests.
Refresh your resume
While it’s tempting to let your resume gather dust until you 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.
4. 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.
5. 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 that’s no longer relevant, removing skills or technologies that are outdated, or replacing 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 the content you remove in a master resume file if you think you may want to use it again in the future.
6. 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 words 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 sometimes slide during the summer with so many vacation plans and other 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.
7. Catch up after summer. 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.
8. Be active on LinkedIn. Now that you have an up-to-date profile, make sure you’re regularly taking actions on LinkedIn to stay on 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 news feed regularly to keep up with what your contacts are doing and spot relevant news and opportunities with organizations you’re interested in.
9. 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-specific conferences and 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 make sure to join us for our fall Social Impact Networking event.
We hope these tips help you refresh your job search this fall! And if you’d like support as you work on your social impact job search, check out our Job Search Bootcamp course, with many more tips and tools that will help you prepare to pursue your next career step.