Forget the House — Spring Clean Your Career!

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Are you tired of the same old, same old at work? Ready for a change but don't know where to start? This year, instead of spending your time cleaning out the closets and scrubbing the baseboards, put that energy into rejuvenating your career. By getting started on a career change in the spring, you can be settled into your dream job before the holidays are here again and life gets too busy. Here are the steps to make it happen.

1. Know what you want to change

What are you unhappy with in your job? Is your pay stagnant or your responsibilities monotonous? Do you want to work for a company with more women in leadership or better parental leave? There are a lot of good reasons to leave a job, but what you shouldn't do is quit without understanding why you want to go. By identifying what you dislike about your current position, you can better spot the opportunities that match your goals and values.

2. Refresh your resume

You'll want a resume ready to go before starting the next steps. That way, you can act without hesitation when you find the right opportunity. There are tons of tips and of step-by-step guides that tell you how to write a resume, but for most people, a resume builder is faster and gets just as good results. The key is knowing the right resume style and format for your industry. Most people default to a chronological resume, but if you're changing careers or have a lot of details to cover, a combination resume is a better fit.

3. Update your job skills

Is your resume looking a little sparse? If you're comparing your resume to job postings and feeling under qualified for the roles you want, look for ways to improve your job skills before entering the job market. That could mean pursuing a new certification, taking an online class, or getting familiar with the most current industry software. Look at open positions to find the specific skills employers want, then make a plan to close the gaps in your resume.

4. Start networking

Sure, you could launch your career change by blindly sending resumes in response to job postings. However, you'll have much better success if you cultivate warm job leads. How do you do that? By reaching out to industry contacts and asking about opportunities — AKA networking.

Of course, you can't send a message asking for a job lead after months of silence. Build up to the ask by reconnecting over industry news and events or asking for career advice.

5. Dive into the job search

By now you hopefully have a few warm leads and have identified target companies you'd like to work for. With everything in place, you can put your career change into action. Start crafting cover letters, fine-tuning your resume for individual jobs, and practicing your interview answers. With diligent preparation and a healthy dose of confidence, you can impress your future bosses and land the job that takes your career to the next level.

You'll never reach your professional goals if you let your career coast without putting honest effort into it. But when job hunting is so draining, it's easy to rationalize delaying a career change. Instead of letting another year pass you by, make time for your professional development this spring. With just a few weeks of work, you can find a job that fulfills you day after day — and that's better than any cleaning spree you could do at home.

Gloria Martinez