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TheStreet Open House

It's Time to 'Spring Clean' Your Career!

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Easter ... Passover ... Daylight Savings Time ... Daffodils ... Yes, winter is finally over. Before we know it, Mets fans will be enjoying another losing season at Citi Field.

Better still, while no one has yet rung the happy-days-are-here-again bell, good economic news is back in the news. The Miami Herald headlines that South Florida real estate is hot and Bloomberg reports that synthetic CDOs -- yes, astoundingly, the same derivative demons that nearly brought down the world economy -- are now back in play.

So, with apologies to Shakespeare, the question is thus -- is your career still mired is its "winter of discontent," or is it prepared to be "made glorious by the summer sun?" The following "top 11" list -- top 10 lists are so cliché -- will help you prepare your career for the new, new-normal:


1. Review Your Résumé: Is your résumé still based on your template from college or grad school? If so, it needs a rewrite. Soon. At the minimum, a mid-career résumé should be 1.) accomplishment-focused; 2.) marketing-oriented; and 3.) two pages that lead with a compelling career summary. When in doubt, consult a résumé-writer -- your competition already has.

2. Research Job Openings: Start with a quick Google (GOOG) search of your job title. You may be surprised at the extent to which your field has rebounded in recent months. For example, a recent Xconomy article details a "tech talent crunch" in New York City. Accounting, real estate, retail sectors are also coming back strong.

3. Ring a Recruiter: Pick his brain; ask a lot of questions about growth opportunities, salary trends and in-demand skill sets. Don't be shy, headhunters are eager to hear from you now that they actually have openings to fill. And note that lesser-known firms and lone-wolf operators will often be more generous with their time, and frequently have funkier, "fringier" opportunities to discuss.

4. Make a Date: Contact that well-connected colleague who's made it their business to know everyone in, and everything about, your field. Invite her for a post-work beverage and drink in all the latest news about who, what, and where is happening in your specialty. And remember that in-the-know folks are often younger coworkers who welcome the opportunity to impress their seniors.


5. Hone a Skill: What's the one ugly element of your office that everyone hates: compliance, coffee-making, cold-calling? Identify it, do it and get good at it. The goodwill you generate from taking on this tedious task will more than compensate for the displeasure you feel in shouldering it.

6. Go Out of Your Way to Help a Colleague: Make a deposit or two in the karmic favor-bank. Team players get noticed and rewarded ... eventually. Until then, the physic benefit of helping the office underdog has been proven to lessen depression and build self-esteem.

7. Give Yourself an Immediate Raise: How much money do you spend every day at work: Starbucks (SBUX), Qdoba, The Wall Street Journal? Tally your daily expenditures and multiply the total by five, then four, then 12 -- that's not a bad little raise. Or think of it this way, how would you rather spend $50; dinner and a movie on Friday night, or five sad salads at your desk during the week?

8. Buy Something "Springy" and Wear it to Work: Trust me, everyone in your office is sick of the dark blue sweater and dark grey pants you've had in high-rotation all winter. Invest $100 from your savings above and buy yourself an aqua blouse, or yellow tie or peach hoodie. Note how your colleagues are instantly friendlier when you're not dressed like an undertaker.

9. Purge Your Emails: Only expendable employees have time to acknowledge all their messages. So immediately delete any note more than one month old; the writer has long-forgotten she wrote it. Then scrub at least 25% of everything that's left. Perform the following experiment: choose an email to which you'd really like to reply, and erase it anyway; note how the world continues to spin on its axis, and how much better you feel with an empty inbox.

10. Dammit, Do Something Interesting: Do you have something to say when a coworker asks "What plans do you have for the beautiful spring weekend?" No? Then get a life, soon. Ever notice how the office bore never gets promoted? So quick, can you name dullest guy in your group? If not, well, you guessed it...

11. Finally... Rewind. Play: Reread the above. And now, no joke, commit to conquering at least one item from the list, tomorrow! Enjoy the benefit it delivers, feel free to comment below, and then move on to the other nine challenges.


-- Written by Andrew Kosztyo in New York City.

This article is commentary by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.

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