How to Spring Clean Your Design Career

Daniela Garza of Anagrama, Joshua Chen of Chen Design Associates, and Mackey Saturday of Chermayeff & Geismar & Haviv await your work in the HOW Promotion & Marketing Design Awards.

Deadline to enter: April 9

Around this time of year, there’s a good chance that many—if not all—of your well-intentioned New Year’s career resolutions have fallen by the wayside. But as the warmer, brighter days of spring arrive, now is the perfect time to bring back those goals and recommit to professional self-improvement.

image from Getty | Susan Walker

1. Dust off your digital portfolio.

An online portfolio is not an archive. Rather, it’s a showcase for your best, most recent work. Remove anything more than five years old from your website’s home page and landing pages.

Creating a portfolio that pops requires finding that just-right balance between quality and variety: You want to demonstrate your unique style, yet you should let potential clients and employers know you’re versatile enough to meet their demands.

While you’re at it, review the color palette and font choices to make sure they’re not dated or busy. Don’t forget to view it on a mobile device to check for glitchiness, wonky displays and image quality. If you’re unhappy with the website’s responsiveness, it could be time to find a new host for your portfolio.

2. Sweep out the corners of your social media accounts.

Apps like UnTweeps and ManageFlitter make it easy for you to identify and unfollow inactive accounts on Twitter. Once you’ve trimmed down your list, scope out the latest hashtags and discussions to connect with industry influencers who can help you amplify your social media branding. Also find some new Facebook groups to join, as well as cutting-edge thought leaders to follow on Instagram.

If you want to be a more active online networker but struggle to keep up with multiple accounts, apps like Hootsuite and BirdEye allow you to organize and manage all your interactions in one place.

3. Freshen your LinkedIn account.

Recruiters and hiring managers often use LinkedIn to connect with passive candidates. So even if you aren’t actively seeking a new design job, an impressive profile on this site might end up leading to a dream offer. Take some time to update your photo, strengthen your summary statement and add to your most recent accomplishments. Make sure everything in your bio is still compelling and relevant.

4. Water your network garden.

Just like April showers bring May flowers, a well-tended professional network generates job leads and freelance gigs. Spring is a good time to catch up with former colleagues and clients. Set a target of how many people you’d like to reconnect with each month. The touchpoints don’t have to be major. They can be as simple as a congratulatory email, thoughtful comment on their latest blog post, friendly phone chat or, in the physical world, catching up over coffee.

Don’t forget about “planting” new contacts. Now that your LinkedIn profile is shiny and polished, start connecting with more people—both within and outside of your field. Take advantage of industry conferences and events, such as HOW Design Live 2018, to make new acquaintances while sharpening your skills.

5. Alter your routine.

Shake off the winter doldrums by getting out more often. Design professionals need time and mental space to get the creative juices flowing, so let the great outdoors serve as your muse. Add a post-lunch stroll to your day. Walk or take public transport instead of driving so you can think and better observe your surroundings. Go to parks and museums for inspiration. Refill your creative well.
Spring cleaning isn’t just about washing windows and clearing away cobwebs. Your design career also needs a thorough refresh every year so it’ll look its best—to recruiters, prospective clients and potential employers—in the months to come.

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