A LOT CAN HAPPEN IN AN HOUR. BELOVED CHARACTERS MAY FALL IN LOVE, RUN UP AGAINST AN UNEXPECTED PLOT TWIST, OR MEET A GRISLY END. IT ALSO HAPPENS TO BE ENOUGH TIME FOR YOU TO SHIFT THE DIRECTION OF YOUR CAREER.
No busy woman should ever feel badly about escaping from the frenzy with a little TV time—Career Contessa has even suggested a few such guilt-free pleasures.
But what if you could make meaningful progress towards your professional goals in the time it takes to enjoy one episode of your favorite TV drama?
It might sound like fiction, but research shows that 52 minutes (just under the average length of a Game of Thrones episode) is the optimal amount of time to work continuously on a project. In fact, the top 10% of high-performing employees spend almost exactly that amount of time on a specific task or objective before they opt to take a break.
Here are four things that you can tackle in 52 minutes that will add real value to your career. Next time you’re thinking about turning on the DVR, make time for one of these first. Don’t worry, you can still reward yourself with an episode (or two) afterward.
DRESS UP YOUR LINKEDIN PROFILE
Not on LinkedIn? You’re missing out on a tried-and-true networking opportunity to market yourself and make priceless connections with other professionals. Hear Career Contessa’s own Samantha Tollin explain why this online tool is so useful then spend an hour setting one up.
While you may have your basic LinkedIn profile in place, there are a lot of ways that you can elevate the quality and appeal.
Already have a LinkedIn profile? Excellent. But while you may have your basic profile in place, there are a lot of ways that you can elevate its quality and appeal. In fact, LinkedIn rewards people with more robust profiles with an “all star” designation. The benefit of this virtual gold star? You will appear in search results more often and get more views from prospective employers or clients.
What’s LinkedIn looking for, anyway? While the formula is not exact, here are some tips to help get you on your way:
- Add a professional and industry-appropriate headshot. If you work in a legal profession, your headshot may be more traditional, but for those in tech industries a more informal/environmental look works well.
- Ensure that your current position is updated with a description that is specific to your role.
- Add full information for at least two past positions.
- Complete your education section.
- If you have fewer than 50 connections, request to connect with past colleagues, classmates or clients.
- Add certifications, areas of expertise and competencies to the Skills section.
DO A PERSONAL AUDIT
We see it so often in the news—aspiring and established professionals having faced severe consequences (including termination or rescinded job offers) for their behavior online. We're not trying to scare you, but consider this a helpful reminder that how you behave on social media and other websites can dramatically impact your professional goals.
Take an hour to do a thorough check of your online presence. This should include:
- Checking Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn to ensure that your privacy settings are up-to-date. These sites change their privacy policies and settings often, so it’s important to check this periodically.
- Confirming that all of your publicly visible profile pictures are appropriate and professional. You may even consider using a similar headshot for all sites.
- Googling yourself. If you find content that you control, take steps to remove it or modify its privacy settings. If you find content that you don’t control (i.e. tagged photos), contact the content’s owner (usually the site’s webmaster) to politely ask for its removal.
- Reviewing (or re-reviewing) your company or school’s internet use and social networking policies, so you are up-to-date on their expectations.
While checking your work isn't always fun, managing your online reputation is a crucial element of your professional success. Exercising control over it demonstrates maturity and competence.
ENROLL IN A COURSE OR SEMINAR
There's a famous quote that goes: learning only stops when you’re dead. A bit morbid, perhaps, but it's a truism when it comes to your career. Adding some supplemental training to your resume benefits you on a couple levels. First, it increases your confidence as you become more competent in a specific area, and second, it makes you an even more attractive employee or candidate.
If you're able to work with your employer to include job-related learning as part of your benefits package, you should definitely take a little time to research conferences that fit your career objectives. Many trade organizations (like the American Advertising Federation or the National Restaurant Association) will list industry-specific events on their websites. Looking for something more general? There are quite a few emerging conferences that will inspire you—and empower you to take on new challenges.
Don’t have the financial means or time to attend a larger-scale conference? Here are some low-cost and free options to get your juices flowing:
- Lynda.com – offers thousands of video tutorials for as low as $19.99/month.
- Toastmasters – a tried-and-true organization with very low annual membership fees that helps individuals improve their public speaking and presentation skills.
- U.S. Small Business Administration offers free online courses in key topics.
MAKE A NEW CONNECTION
While the previous three tasks involved individual improvement, as women, we know that interpersonal, human connections can make the difference between a job and a career. Take the time to reach out to someone in your network who you’ve never really gotten to know or use LinkedIn to locate a new contact.
Keep in mind that not every connection you make needs to be in service of your immediate objectives. While it’s crucial that you proactively seek professional references and connections to job opportunities, it’s also important that you help other women in your circle. Lending that support will spread confidence and strength, in turn empowering the broader community.
While it’s crucial that you proactively seek professional references and connections to job opportunities, it’s also important that you help other women in your circle.
If you’re not sure how to get started, here are a few ideas to inspire you:
- Reach out to a past intern or junior employee and offer to write a letter of recommendation.
- Chat with a former colleague who you know is job hunting and ask if you can help connect them to an opportunity.
- Offer to have coffee with an employee of a local non-profit.
- Locate a recent graduate from your college or high school and send them a nice note of support.
What are your secrets to transforming your career in under an hour?
* * *
Photo courtesy HBO.
Article originally published on Career Contessa.