Edward Johnson, PMP, CSM

Trusted Advisor

Can You Spare 5 Minutes for Your Career?

Edward Johnson, PMPĀ®, CSMĀ® March 27


As a coach I speak with a lot of people. Because of this I can see the commonalities as I move from person to person. On one hand, a lot of common things I recognize are good. On the other hand, the bad things I see can be real showstoppers.

Have you ever heard someone say "can't get out of their own way" or "never be your own obstacle"? Well, it's all true. Getting out of your own way equates to fouling up the good things that happen or could happen for you. The latter has a little worse of a spin on it. It basically means if you would put just a little more effort into something you would do far better, but because you don't, you fail. In other words, you are in control of your own destiny, but choose not to take the reins.

I normally start my conversations with asking simple questions about the inventory of tools you have to market your career (i.e., resume, cover letter, project list, exemplification letter, articles, opinions, web presence, etc.). As you might imagine, I get a "no" for most of the items on the inventory list. Then I give them my patented look of disapproval. Followed by my one of my favorite questions "Do you have 5 minutes to spare for your career?"

I am as serious as a heart attack when I ask that question. As the feeling of shock washes over them I always get the same response, a look of utter confusion mixed with a dash of anxiety. I can do a lot in 5 minutes. I can jot down a few projects I have worked on. I can write a quick paragraph about the job I had a couple of years ago. Get the picture? If you can spare 5 minutes a day, you can actually get a  lot done.

Take control of your career and make a real effort to market it. With every small task you complete within those 5 minutes per day, you are actually adding more and more polish to the career brand you are building. You can make great progress with a bunch of little things getting done. They add up to big things.

Take a hint from the beginning of this article. Make a list of what you need. Then for each item you need, break it down into smaller, more manageable pieces. For instance, everyone needs to create a resume. You can start by listing out each job you have had. This one is always hard, but I have a trick for this. Just make the list without worrying about putting them in any specific order. Make putting them in chronological order a separate step. If you have Microsoft Excel, you can do that even more easily by creating the list using 3 columns: job, start date and end date. Then you can sort the jobs by end date (or start date in some cases). When you look at each of these small steps, you should quickly realize how easily manageable everything becomes. Using this kind of strategy enables you to accomplish a great deal. The bigger win is as you accomplish more of these smaller steps, you gain more confidence in the process and yourself.

Remember, there are tons of apples employers are looking at all the time. It is your job to be the shiniest one! Ask yourself if you can spare 5 minutes a day to add to your shine.

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