Social distancing and the effect it is having on the workforce is affecting people differently. For some it means more work. For others it can mean layoffs, furloughs, and other uncertainties. For others still it can be a time to reflect and reset. And for all of us it can be a time to take a close look at our professional presence and take steps toward improvement.
There are so many things right now that we cannot control. Let’s use this time to work on those things over which we do have control. This will help us not only now, but when we get back to a more familiar way of doing business.
Let’s start with these five:
1. Critique your LinkedIn profile. Does it represent you the way you want it to? You should have a professional headshot – or a professional looking headshot. You can do that with an iPhone in a pinch. Your work history should be in chronological order and make sure that you highlight accomplishments. Use action words – “consistently exceeded target revenue goals by more than 40 percent,” for example. Make good use of the profile section for a high-level summary of your professional value. And ask people for testimonials. It’s like earned media. Having others speak of your good work goes a long way.
2. Polish up your resume. There are many different formats and styles out there to serve as guides. As with your LinkedIn profile, make sure to highlight accomplishments and use action words. Consider trading resumes with a friend for another set of eyes on the product. Be each other’s editors. You may not need a new resume now, but it’s better to have one at the ready than trying to scramble when you’re under pressure.
3. Take a look in the mirror. More than half of a first impression is made by our appearance. Before you say your first word in a conversation, how you look has already impacted what the other person thinks of you. I know hair styling can be a challenge right now, but do your best. If you’re a man, shave every day. If you’re a woman, put on makeup and jewelry.
4. Take a look at your wardrobe. Clothes are just as important as grooming in making up that first impression. I like to dress for work every day – at least the part of me that people can see on videoconferences. I cut myself some slack every now and then and allow a combo look of blouse and jacket paired with Lululemons and Allbirds. I find I am actually quite productive in that ensemble.
5. And finally, read and educate yourself on what’s going on in your industry. If there's a new skill you want to acquire, work on that. Those who are nimble and can pivot quickly in these times of “new normal” will be even more valuable to their own and potential employers.
Working on you and the things you can control will not only help you in your professional life, but I find that it helps me personally, as well. In these uncertain times, some semblance of certainty is very comforting.