As you anticipate the lazy, hazy days of summer, that usual discipline and focus with which you approach your job search may begin to wax and wane. But despite the mellower mood, resist the urge to play hooky from your job search this season. Take a prolonged vacation from it, and you’ll miss out on what could be one of the most productive times of the year to take the next step in your career.
Just because business slows down and people go on vacation doesn’t mean that all will be quiet on the job front over the summer. In reality, these next few months can be an extremely busy time for successful job searchers, so here are a few tips for making the most of this time.
The single most important thing any job searcher can do is networking. This can be easier to do in the summer when people have a bit more flexibility in their schedules, or a least a more relaxed attitude. Identify the target companies on your list. Use your alumni database, LinkedIn, former colleagues, etc. to identify contacts in those target companies. Request an informational interview to learn more about the company, but do not ask for a job. Rather, ask how the company hires, what skills are required for success, and how the function you are interested in fits in that organization.
Set specific networking goals for the summer and hold yourself accountable. Meet people for coffee, lunch, a quick meeting or even a walk outside. Take advantage of this time of year to make as many connections as possible. Always ask your networking contact who else they think you should be talking to, given your career interests. Ask what professional association meetings you should be attending. Many professional associations continue to meet over the summer but often have less formal meetings. Take advantage of these opportunities to meet others in your chosen field.
Have a Plan
You wouldn’t plan your vacation without a destination in mind and at least a rough plan of how you are going to get there. Your job search deserves at least that much attention – if not more. It is hard to get where you want to be without a clear sense of where you are going, so create and follow a specific job search plan.
Identify the type of position you seek and the target companies where you most want to work. Develop a networking strategy and list of contacts for each company. Have a plan to make new networking contacts every week. Always thank your networking contacts for their time, preferably in person and follow it up with a written note. Thank them again if they refer you to a valuable connection. Keep your network posted on your progress.
No one wants to hire a complainer or a “Negative Nellie.” Stay positive and stay focused. Enjoy the networking along the way; you may just surprise yourself with how rewarding it is to make new connections, learn new things and expand your personal and professional networks!
Reflect on the interesting people you meet and draw inspiration from their career journeys. Be positive about yourself and the skills you bring to the table. Demonstrate that you have a vision for what you want to do in your career. Show appreciation for their time and enthusiasm for additional contacts or activities they recommend.
Also, be open and accepting of feedback. You may not want to hear it but, you need to hear it in order to grow and get to the next level. Learn from others who have more experience. At least seriously consider the advice they offer. Be willing to learn and to try new things. Remember, you can’t fix it if you don’t know it’s broken.
It may be summer, but companies definitely don’t take a “school’s out” attitude, and neither should you. They still have business needs to be met, positions to be filled and some hiring managers have more time to focus on hiring at this time of year, so take advantage of it. Don’t take a vacation from your job search – instead, step up your efforts and set a goal of getting your network in good shape for fall.
Author: Lynne Sarikas is the Executive Director of the MBA Career Center at D’Amore-McKim School of Business at Northeastern University in Boston. Prior to this Lynne held a variety of management positions in industry with experience in sales, account management, customer service, marketing and operations management responsibilities, with focus on corporate relationships and new business development.