Have you been hibernating since December? We understand. It can be difficult to harness your most productive self when the days are short and dark. But now it’s time to shake off the blankets and step away from Netflix because Spring is upon us.
This is the perfect time to do some heavy-duty spring cleaning (both figuratively and literally). While the grime and dust that’s accumulated around your house is one major sign of the cleaning you need to start, others might not be so obvious. Your career and your portfolio have cobwebs too.
When was the last time you updated your images, bio, resume, social media? Are you stuck with unproductive work habits that need to be broken? What does your computer desktop look like? What does your real desktop look like? All of these elements can greatly effect your career—for better or for worse.
If you put some energy into your portfolio, you’ll find that clients take notice. A recent poll by The Creative Group revealed that 63% of clients judge your portfolio before anything else. They’re more likely to hire someone with an active and up-to-date portfolio. It shows that you’re invested in your career and that you’re always working.
Don’t worry. Spring cleaning your career and your portfolio doesn’t have to be daunting. We put together 6 easy tips that you can get started on today. It’s time to set yourself up for new creative opportunities and get ready for sunnier days.
1. Give your CV the once (or twice) over.
Consider how often you update your profile pics on social media. Does your CV get the same attention? You don’t have to wait until you’re pursuing a new opportunity to give it a face lift. An active CV posted to your online portfolio will show visitors that you’re always working on something new, and available for future projects too.
Think about your CV like a snapshot of your career. You want use that snapshot to grab the attention of potential clients and future employers alike. Include only the jobs and experiences that make you look like the best you.
That six month internship you did five years ago? It might not be as relevant anymore. The “timely” pop culture reference you made in your bio? Maybe it’s time to say goodbye to Grumpy Cat.
Simplify your resume to highlight the skills that help you get the kind of job you want, not the kind you had previously.
2. Dial in to your LinkedIn. Update your social presence for real.
After you fine-tuned your CV, make sure your social channels reflect those changes. Update your Twitter bio to make sure it’s clearly stated who you are and what you do. Bonus points for optimizing your bio with keywords for search results like “photographer” or “designer” or “freelance.” You might be surprised how many inquiries you can get through social media channels.
While you’re at it, unfollow any accounts you’ve found yourself scrolling past all winter. There’s no point in cluttering up your timeline! You can also look through your own timeline and delete any posts that don’t fit your current look.
For many creative professionals, LinkedIn seems like Facebook’s less cool cousin, but it’s extremely helpful for finding jobs and connecting with other professionals.
For LinkedIn, focus on updating your photo to recent headshot that actually looks like you. There’s nothing to be gained from catfishing your clients.
Then, add a personal summary statement to your profile. Let visitors to your page know who the person behind the professional is! Include personal details about your life, hobbies, interests and quirks. Similar to your portfolio website “About” page, the more human you appear, the more clients will feel connected to you and want to reach out.
The last step is making sure your recent work experiences match up with your resume. Again, don’t be afraid to finally cut out that internship from ten years ago.
Want to get endorsements for your skills? Endorse your connections. If you scratch their back, they’ll scratch yours.
3. Time is money. Send it where it counts.
It’s easy to get caught up in the little things, especially when the bigger picture (i.e. that stroke of genius you’re waiting on) might not always be so clear. You start checking your email and next thing you know, the day is completely over and you’re sorting your inbox instead of finishing the project that’s due. That’s why it’s important to constantly reassess what you spend your time on.
Take an audit of a typical workday. Writing down everything you do from the time you “punch in” to the time you call it quits, and see if there’s any room for improvement.
How often did you spend on Facebook? Were there any tasks or responsibilities you could outsource or streamline? Did you remember to break for lunch? Lunch is important.
4. Bless this mess…oh wait, that’s your desk.
We get it. You’re creative, so that means your workspace is anything but the norm. Just make sure it’s still a space in which you work. It’s nice to personalize your desk or studio, but if you spend more time sifting through old illustrations or piles of googly eyes than invoicing clients or drafting briefs, it might be time to reevaluate your system.
Think about it like this: you would never let your bed pile up with junk (we hope) because you want to get a good night’s sleep. Apply the same rule of thumb to your desk about work. Keep anything that makes you a) comfortable and b) productive, and toss the rest. And always have a desk plant.
5. Follow up on those coffee dates.
It’s so much easier to say you’ll grab coffee “sometime” than actually booking a time and day. The truth is, a simple meet up could lead to something great. Whether it’s sniffing out new leads and potential clients, or reaching out to others in your industry for an informational interview, a personal meet and greet actually raises your chances of landing that job.
However, make sure you go in prepared. Both parties should feel like this coffee date is worth their time, so think up questions or topics to discuss ahead of time.
6. Be fast, be furious and don’t be afraid to switch gears.
We’re three months into 2016. What have you accomplished so far that you’re really proud of? If you’re starting to sweat while racking your brain to find the answer to that question, don’t worry, it happens to the best of us.
Yearly goals have a tendency to become these big, unachievable feats that feel like they may never happen. Instead, break up your year into quarters (or months or weeks if it helps), and set yourself some realistic goals. Make sure you give yourself the tools to accomplish them.
If a routine or workflow hasn’t been working for you in the past, don’t be afraid to give it up. You never have to wait for some monumental date or time to make a change. Encourage yourself to always find the best (or better) solution.
All photography via Unsplash