A digital media expert on how to get organized for 2020

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I’m bad about keeping New Year’s Resolutions—and I know I’m not alone. Twenty-five percent of people stay committed to their resolutions and just 8% accomplish them.

But in 2020 that changes, for me and for all of the emerging young sales leaders out there. Because this is the year we commit to a resolution that will impact our careers now and in the future. This is the year we collectively resolve to do one thing better.

 This is the year we resolve to make better first impressions.

While it sounds pretty obtuse, I’d argue it’s a critical resolution. Cliche as it sounds, you only get one chance to make a first impression. And if that impression is truly impressionable, curbing a client’s “no” and reinforcing a “yes,” then you’re going to deepen relationships, increase sales, and drive success.

Even better, though, you can accomplish this resolution by leaning on tools and technologies already in your arsenal—specifically document management solutions to help you stay productive wherever and however you like to work. So, unlike squeezing in daily sweat sessions or making Meatless Mondays happen, achieving and leveraging this new-found impression-making prowess won’t require any major commitments or lifestyle overhauls.

This impression-making, then, is a resolution you can no doubt achieve, without even waiting for the ball to drop. Because, now more than ever, for the Gen Z and young millennial workforce, a positive first impression—a great experience for you and your clients—often starts with a document. Here’s why, and here’s how to make the most of every document—and every first impression.

The meet-and-greet: it all starts with a piece of paper

Arguably the most significant document kicking off your career is your diploma, but it doesn’t stop there. There’s a reason so many people create PDF resumes and CVs when they want to make a positive first impression. Very simply, they can be shared between virtually any system, look good, stay consistent when they’re sent and shared, and convey a sense of professionalism you don’t get from other document formats.

While it may sound minor, every piece of the puzzle counts when you’re competing with top-tier global talent. The average recruiter scans a resume for about six seconds before deciding whether you belong on the short-list or in the “no thank you” pile. Having that sleek, easy-to-read PDF resume matters.

Flash your creative side: sent, share, and sign

I recently met with an artist and social media influencer and I was completely blown away by her work. I was also blown away with one of her self-professed pain points: looking ahead, she wants to be seen not just as an artist but also as an entrepreneur building a creative business.

This, then, requires some upskilling and integration of the cloud productivity tools that everyone is already using to help solidify and support those workflows. Tools like Microsoft Office 365 and an extended document management platform that includes  e-signatures to sign off on commissions and custom proposals are good first steps. More and more, they’re also critical to that transformation from “creative” to “creative business”—84% of creatives report spending more than five hours each week on administrative tasks required to be a working creative.

But, again, with the right approach to document experiences, creative professionals can create those critical first impressions for their clients and partners. An efficient system for sending NDAs, getting project sign-offs, scanning and sending inspiration, and completing request forms via mobile helps move creative initiatives along without missing a beat, and without stifling the creative process with mountains of paperwork and endless printing, faxing, and signing.

Better still, those vision boards, swatches, and final products are all secure with modern, digital security capabilities. It’s a positive impression—and positive experience—for everyone involved.

Enhance your web forms: make getting to “yes” easy

This dynamic document experience should, then, continue to your web and mobile experiences. If you’re driving customers to your site and they’re landing on a Word document contact form, you instantly lose a professionalism peg. On the flip side, if that first interaction is with a sleek, easy-to-navigate PDF form, you’ll likely keep that customer moving forward.

Make sure your form works just as well on mobile devices and you’re in business—literally and figuratively. By 2021, 54%of commerce will happen via mobile. With that in mind, it’s clear why a clean, compelling, user-friendly form is so critical. Faced with that, your prospects have one less reason to say “no” and another reason to say “yes.”

Another drive to “yes?” Connecting those web forms back to your customer relationship management (CRM) system. That’s a great experience for end users who demand personalized experiences at scale. It starts with the PDF and continues through those future experiences.

Setting yourself up for career success in 2020

Documents are a springboard for great experiences and dynamic first impressions—impressions that will accelerate your career in 2020 and beyond. The right document management system can highlight your skills, your creativity, your business acumen, and your client-first approach, all in a single view. No matter your business, your goals, or your experience level, when it comes to first impressions, that’s always a plus.

All of this said, there’s no reason to wait for January 1st to kick off your document-based career improvement path. Get started now by digitizing your systems. If you’ve taken some steps already—going from Rolodex to CRM or streamlining workforce activities via Microsoft Teams or Slack, let’s say—lay the groundwork to take things even further with those simple, secure, and holistic document management systems and enhanced web forms. Having these tools in place now will ensure you’re ready to deliver better experiences, better first impressions, and boost your career in 2020 and beyond. Cheers to that. 

Garrett Schwartz is a Manager for Digital Media at Adobe.