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by Cathy Vandewater | March 09, 2012


Ah, Spring. A time of new beginnings and vigorous cleaning. We can smell the sunshine and Pinesol already!

But as you flip your mattress and give your walls a sponge bath, don't forget a key area to re-evaluate: your job search.

If reported job gains from the BLS can be believed, things are improving. It's been a hard winter, but the light is visible at the end of the tunnel, and it's all natural, Tulip-nurturing sunbeams. So leave your past efforts behind: this Spring is all about renewed energy, fresh starts, and, if your budget allows, maybe a fabulous new interview suit.

Here's where to start:  

1. Sweep Out the Old

As everyone knows, the first step of spring cleaning is trashing the old, broken, and no longer needed.

For your job search, that's the following:

-Ancient , irrelevant job listings on your resume
-Jargon or hackneyed buzz words in your cover letter or CV
-Inappropriate pictures or comments on social media accounts
-Ill fitting, worn, or of-another-decade interview attire
-Emotional baggage from your last job

Do a spot check, and delete, delete, delete. There, doesn't that feel better?

2. Organize Your Efforts

Just like you'd hit The Container Store for decluttering, get serious about organizational tools for your job search. Buy a new calendar, if you haven't already, or a date book. Then immediately write in "appointments" for free time to spend checking jobs boards and sending out resumes, pre-fill in dates for job fairs and networking events, and set a goal of a once a week coffee or lunch date with a contact.

Again, just like drawer dividers remind you put your socks away, a weekly visual reminder to use your time well can keep on track with your job search. Also helpful: those Outlook alerts to remind you to check on resumes you sent out or send thank you notes. And if a business card organizer will encourage you to call those contacts, get one.

3. Polish Your Resume (and Toss Your "Default" Cover Letter)

Hopefully, you've removed jargon and your high-school stint at McDonalds from your resume. Now it's time to take it to the next level. Think of the job you want. Google it. Read "want ads" for the position.

Your goal is to get a target employer to read your CV and hear "This person's perfect for the job!" screaming from the page.

Now over your job descriptions with that in mind. What can you focus on in each role you've played that relates to the Dream Job?

In that spirit, go ahead and delete your cover letter template (yes, we know you have one). If you heard two songs in the same key, you'd never try to sing the same lyrics to both—it just wouldn't fit. So why sing the same job song twice, for different roles? Every position (and company!) is different, thus, every letter of introduction should be. A cover letter is a fresh chance to make a pitch perfect impression. Don't squander it.

4. Restock Your Supply Closet

Resume stock isn't one of those things you think about until the morning of an interview. Spare yourself a frantic run to target—get everything you need, including a new portfolio, Thank-You notes, resume paper, business cards, work samples or letters of recommendation, and of course, printed copies of your spiffy new resume to have at the ready.

While you're at it, check your closet for interview attire. Whether your old faithful are looking a bit worse for wear or just plain too winter-y, consider springing for new duds. A new khaki or grey suit hanging in your closet might renew your zest for job hunting.

5. Update Your Basics

Clean up your online act: take stock of your social media profiles and what's out of date (or, heaven forbid, inappropriate), and what's missing. Start with Linked in, re-reading your job descriptions (again, if the position you're on the hunt for has changed, so should your write ups), add new photos (volunteer work! That conference in September!) and link any recent work you've had hit the company website or articles you've been mentioned in.

You might also want to look into new means of networking online, with an infographic resume, a profile on Pinterest or LinkedIn groups you've been meaning to join. And don't forget to participate; cultivating and active web presence, whether it's through efficient tweeting or chatting on group boards, is key to your visibility.


Here's your no-excuses reading list for job-searching this spring:

--Cathy Vandewater,