You’re young, hungry, and want to jumpstart your career. You don’t have much experience outside of classrooms, but you know you’ll need more than some grades and a degree to succeed in the marketplace.
Here are a few very simple things you can do right now—today!—in less than an hour. Check these four things off your list, and you will be several steps ahead of your peers,—and, more importantly, ahead of where you were when the day began.
Thing One: Get a Normal Email Address
It’s a hard truth, but email@example.com will get in the way of basic professional communication.
Set up a simple email address in Gmail, preferably as close to firstname.lastname@example.org as possible. No weird numbers, nicknames, or characters.
I recommend using this—and only this—email, rather than maintaining tons of different accounts. Abandon inboxes full of spam or notifications, and use this as an opportunity to start fresh so you can learn to master email. You can set up your Gmail so other inboxes flow into it if you like.
Thing Two: Get a Good Headshot
It’s not that hard these days, and you already know how to make yourself look fly in a selfie. So why does your profile picture have a dog with sunglasses?
It’s not about being boring, it’s about being easy to connect with. When your profile pictures actually look like you IRL (for old people like me, I’ll save you a Google search. It means “in real life”), it’s easier for people to connect with you, root for you, and recognize you when they meet you in person. It also signals you aren’t hiding, and you are excited to own your online activity. It makes you more trustworthy.
Basics of a decent headshot? Smile. Have good lighting on your face. Don’t be at a weird angle.
Oh, and use it!
Go through your email and blog avatars, all your social accounts, etc., and use the same good headshot for all of them.
- How to Take Your Own Headshot
- Can’t Afford a Photographer? Take a Great Headshot Anyway
- A Guide to the Perfect Portrait
- How to Take a Great Headshot
Thing Three: Keep Your Bio Consistent
Your Twitter bio says, “Cheetos and catfish,” on Facebook your bio is blank, on LinkedIn it’s, “Creative Entrepreneur,” on Quora you’re “That annoying troll fighter,” and your blog’s About page says, “Your content goes here.” How is anyone supposed to know what you’re all about?
Pick a simple, short, descriptive, and accurate bio. Maybe a one-paragraph version, a one-sentence version, and a five-word version. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but it should make sense and provide a bit of context regarding your interests and goals professionally.
Also, you don’t need any kind of experience or job title to make it work. For example, “Interested in marketing and design, voracious learner” conveys some decent stuff without being pretentious or over/underselling yourself.
Take a few minutes to audit all of your online profiles and plug in a consistent bio. When people are impressed with you on one platform, you don’t want them to get confused when they find something totally different elsewhere.
Thing Four: Ship Something
A decent, professional email address, headshot, and online bio are great. But these are static bits of info. Who you are and what you can do are best discovered and demonstrated through activity.
Create something and ship it. Record a podcast or YouTube video, write a blog post, design an infographic, review a book, or create whatever it is you like to make. Just do something small you can finish today. Finish it. Then post it publicly (that’s the “ship” part).
This is the first step in building a digital footprint that signals your abilities and interests to the world and can help open opportunities. It’s also the first step to overcome impostor syndrome, improve the quality of your work, develop discipline, and gain valuable self-knowledge.
Just create and ship one thing today.
(Oh, then do it again every other day, too, if you want to really become even more valuable.)
- Challenges and Rewards of Writing Every Day
- Forget the Degree: Build a Better Signal
- Imposter Syndrome is True…We’re All Imposters!
Okay, go check these four things off your list today. You’ll feel awesome, and you’ll take one small step closer to creating a great career.