You know you can pack a healthy lunch, do a core work out, or run a mile or more in just 10 minutes. You can use that same efficient approach to shape up your career in less time than it takes to get ready for a work party.
1. Craft your elevator pitch–opportunities come at most unexpected moments. Every professional should have a brief and engaging story of what they do now, and what they can achieve in the future. If you have no idea where to start, try this formula. “I’m an X in [industry/field/company] specializing in Y. I’m passionate about Z, and would love to eventually do [your dream job]. So I’m working on [your current project/goal/degree program].”
2. Update your LinkedIn profile–you never know who could be checking out your online resume. Impress potential clients, hiring managers, and recruiters with a well-edited and complete profile. Keeping your LinkedIn updated is also the perfect way to jog your memory about your achievements without revising your resume every single time.
3. Email contacts that you admire–Everyone has contacts whose career trajectories they admire. Craft a short, complimentary email explaining your interest in her work/field, and request a quick conversation over phone or coffee. I’ve been on both sides of an informational meeting many times. On one occasion, this simple act of writing an email turned into the most important professional opportunity for me that year.
4. Put on make up—studies show that women who wear make up may get promoted more because they are perceived as more professional and competent. Is that strictly fair? Probably not, but one could argue that a polished presentation (including a work-appropriate wardrobe) is a reasonable thing to ask, especially since it’s within a person’s power to control. It only takes ten minutes to even your skin tone with sunblock and foundation, and bring out your features with eyebrow pencil, eyeliner, mascara, and lip gloss.
5. Assume a confident body language, or fake it ’till you make it–according to a study by Harvard Business Sch0ol, just assuming an assertive pose for two minutes (chest open, leaning forward, feet apart) raises your testosterone by 20% and lowers the stress hormone cortisol. That means just standing or sitting in a certain way can make you feel more confident–and others will view you as more confident as well. Before an interview or a big meeting, rev yourself up by straightening your back, lifting your chin, and smiling–which, coincidentally, also is linked to better pay.
6. Daydream–a recent study shows that daydreaming helps us learn from past experiences, become more creative, and make better judgments. So take just 10 minutes a day to daydream about your ideal career path. What would you be doing if you could do anything? Then think about what you can do to get one step closer to that goal.