Get the Job: Summer Edition

Don’t be tempted by sunny days, warm weather, and outdoor activities: summer is no time to abandon your job search!

Conventional wisdom is that companies are not making hiring decisions until the fall time frame and everyone is taking their vacations, so why pursue career opportunities?

That, however, is a common misconception. Summer is one of the best times to advance your career! The decline in long summer vacations has generally meant that companies are moving on all cylinders throughout the summer months and with so many other job seekers out at the beach, competition is generally far less than when September rolls around.

So how do you keep your search moving forward in the summer? Here are 10 essential tips to stay ahead of the competition:

  1. Start a Job Search Schedule: Don’t be lulled into lethargy: create a schedule for each day to determine goals and progress. Even if it’s only for an hour a day, put structure in place to keep you going and maintain momentum.
  2. Enhance Your Network: Don’t go it alone: form or find a group of like-minded job seekers in the same or similar discipline/industry to support you and keep your job search on track. Meet at least once per week to share information on who’s hiring and any leads you know of. A job opportunity that isn’t a fit for you may be just what someone else in your network needs, and vice versa.
  3. Take Your Job Search to the Great Outdoors: Take advantage of the sunny weather to make outdoor home improvements and help out your neighbors as well. As you enjoy the weather, offer to give your neighbors a hand and while you’re helping, you can always share that you’re in the job market, thereby tapping into their network as well. This can, in turn, lead to further connections, possible interviews or informational meetings, and maybe even a new job.
  4. Volunteer Activities: Similarly, there are plenty of opportunities to volunteer in your community during the summer. It’s a great way to help people and make a difference! It will also provide additional accomplishments for your resume, and generate opportunities to network.
  5. Keep Your Career Portfolio Up to Date: The majority of professionals only update their resume after they come across a new opportunity or when a recruiter tells them they should. However, you should have an updated resume at all times to avoid rushing to throw something together at the last minute (with unimpressive results). In addition, there are several other documents that you need in your “career toolbox” – a “job story” (that explains your job moves and reasons for each), a one-page biography, a targeted company list (with those companies you are most interested in pursuing), a contact list (not only your direct network but also contacts at your target companies), professional references, etc. These items are vital for your current job search as well as having them on-hand to ensure your future/long-term career success.
  6. Improve Yourself: Brush up on any skills that may be lagging, either from lack of use or new innovations in your discipline. Take a few summer courses in your field (maybe fulfill those CPE requirements) or expand your range of knowledge. Not only will you be improving your skills, especially cross-function skills for career transitions, but you can also network with your classmates.
  7. Take Advantage of Seasonal Events: Summer provides many unique opportunities to network. There are sports, barbeques, weddings, and other gatherings that can be a perfect time to connect or reconnect. Utilizing social gatherings to inform people of your job search is an excellent strategy (though subtlety is required).
  8. Expand Your Online Presence: Social media is everywhere and it’s not just for keeping up with your old classmates. From LinkedIn, to YouTube, to Twitter, to Google+, to Facebook, you should have an integrated, professional online presence. Many employers research job candidates online before making hiring decisions. Therefore, you must manage the “brand image” you’re building online (i.e., you might want to take down some of those Facebook pictures from the party last weekend).
  9. Invest in a Job Search Coach:With the difficult economic climate, this might appear to be something of a luxury. However, the summer is an excellent time to get some solid career counseling, as you are free from a lot of other distractions. An experience qualified career coach can provide a number of important strategies that will enhance your job search by:
    • Clarifying your career objectives
    • Differentiating you from the competition
    • Teaching you to market yourself effectively
    • Expanding your network
    • Securing interviews
    • Negotiating the best compensation
    • Maintaining those strategies over the long-term to maximize your career success
  10. Don’t Get Discouraged: Though long summer breaks are generally a thing of the past, staggered summer vacations can make reaching key people a challenge. But this isn’t a reason to hesitate or delay. Be patient and consistent; leave polite messages on a regular basis and continue your research and due diligence on target companies. Keep in mind that not only hiring managers but also receptionists, assistants, and other gatekeepers take vacations as well. If you are persistent, you might just connect with an otherwise unreachable hiring manager while your competitors are busy goofing off as they wait for September.

Following these tips should provide a road map on how to engage in an effective summer job search. Good Luck!

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