6 Ways to Improve Career Development in Your Free Time

August 24, 2022

Are you wondering how to advance in your profession? Curious how to job search effectively? Are you seeking new skills to learn? No matter your approach to professional development, it seems like there is never enough time to do it all. That’s why we’ve put together this list of ideas for maximizing your free time, even if it’s just a few minutes a day.

Research Professional Organizations

If you haven’t joined a professional organization or gotten involved with your alumni association yet, now’s the time. According to a recent report by Community Brands, 51% of professional organization members find their associations to be more important than ever, especially post-pandemic. A professional organization helps you:

  • Connect to educational resources. You’ll have access to industry research, newsletters, seminars, courses, new networks and more. Group members can attend events, both virtual and in-person, where thought-leaders share insight into the latest trends and news in your industry. 
  • Develop leadership skills. Being part of a professional organization can provide opportunities to speak at events, join the organization committee or lead an area you wouldn’t otherwise be exposed to in your day-to-day responsibilities. 
  • Serve the community. Whether through volunteering or sharing best practice expertise, many professionals are drawn to opportunities that allow them to give back. 

Boost Your LinkedIn® Profile

If you find yourself with a bonus 20 minutes in your day, take advantage of the extra time and revamp your LinkedIn® profile. Consider that 95% of recruiters use LinkedIn® as their primary search tool. To attract these recruiters, it’s important to have a profile that adequately represents you and your career goals. When updating your profile, suggestions include:

  • Use a professional photo
  • Write a summary that includes things like your personal background, education, career milestones and previous positions, plus any activities that show your skills and history of performance
  • Add volunteer experience
  • Write recommendations for coworkers, and ask them to do the same for you 
  • Join groups relevant to your industry

Write Thank You Notes

After a job interview, take five minutes to write a personal thank you note to your interviewer(s). Craft an original, genuine message that shows your personality and reiterates why you’re excited about the position and the opportunity to contribute. Also mention why you think you’d be a natural fit based on what you learned about the company in the interview. You never know when this thoughtful gesture could set you apart from your competition and land you the job! 

Find an Online Class

Whether you’re switching paths or looking to boost your skill set, there’s probably an online course out there for you—and usually one that offers flexible hours or evening classes. Some classes even offer the ability to gain a certification, which would be a great addition to your resume. 

Refine Your Resume

Spend a few minutes dusting off your resume. Even if it’s up to date, there are probably still things you can do to make your resume shine among a stack of hundreds, such as:

  • Create a skimmable resume. Today, we all skim more than we read, including recruiters. Write short paragraphs, use bulleted lists and headings and allow white space between resume sections.
  • Instead of just listing your previous positions and responsibilities, add the projects you’ve worked on. Did you improve a process? Did one of your projects achieve amazing results? Did you add to the company’s bottom line? This information will make your resume well-rounded and help you stand out from competitors with similar qualifications.
  • Customize your resume for the job you’re applying for. When adding content, ask yourself, “How does this relate to the job description?”
  • Make your contact information clear so that busy recruiters know exactly how to reach you. Include links to your social media accounts and website if you have one. 

Sign Up for Industry Newsletters

In most industries, it’s critical to stay in the know on the latest trends. Things are constantly changing, and if you don’t keep up with the news you may miss key advancement opportunities. By signing up for newsletters related to your profession, you’ll gain access to knowledge from industry leaders. Many also share information about best practices, upcoming events, ongoing learning opportunities and more.

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