Are you taking a break from the job search and surrendering to the lazy days of summer? The conventional wisdom is that almost everyone is in vacation mode from Memorial Day through Labor Day. Consequently, many postpone job searching until September. Is this a mistake? Could you be missing opportunities if you take the summer off? We asked the career experts to find out. Summer Job Searching -- Worthwhile or Waste of Time? "I often hear job seekers say that they want to take the summer off," says Wendy Terwelp, career coach and president of Mequon, Wisconsin-based career management firm Opportunity Knocks. Terwelp says that by the time the summer ends, job seekers who took the summer off will be competing against even more job seekers who have followed the same strategy. Anne-Marie Ditta, president of First Impression Career Services, agrees. "A fair number of job seekers think that recruiters and hiring managers are unavailable during the summer," Ditta says. Therefore, many believe it's a waste of time to job search from June through August. Debunking the Summer Vacation Myth "Few people take long vacations anymore, so for the corporate world it's business as usual in the summer," says Laura Berman Fortgang, a pioneer in the personal coaching field who has appeared on “Oprah” and “The CBS Early Show” and wrote Now What? 90 Days to a New Life Direction. "It may take a little longer to get internal consensus on a hire because of staggered vacations, but why waste three months when you can move things forward during that time?" suggests Fortgang, who says that summertime can offer advantages to job seekers. "Sometimes, summer's quieter pace gives hiring managers a bit more 'brain space,' so they are more attentive to employment applications," she says. Summer can be a prime hiring season for some employers. "Many projects hit the ground running in the fall, and employers want new people in place," says Fortgang. Six Summer Job Search Tips How do you keep your search moving forward in the summer? Our experts offer these tips:
- Capitalize on Seasonal Events: "Summer is a terrific time to network," says Terwelp. "There are festivals, barbeques, weddings and other gatherings that can be a perfect time to connect." Fortgang says that using personal and social gatherings to let people know you are looking is an excellent strategy.
- Don't Get Discouraged: Summer vacations may make reaching the right people more challenging, but "don't use this as a reason to back off," says Fortgang. "Be patient and consistent, leave polite messages and continue due diligence," she says. Keep in mind that receptionists and other gatekeepers take vacations, too. "You might connect with that otherwise hard-to-reach hiring manager while your competitors are lolling around waiting until September," says Ditta.
- Keep a Job Search Schedule: Yes, it's summer, but don't be lulled into laziness. "Even if it is just an hour a day, put structure in place to keep you going,” says Fortgang.
- Build a Network: "Form a group of like-minded job seekers to keep your summer job search on track," Fortgang suggests. Meet regularly to share information on who's hiring. A job opportunity not right for you may be perfect for someone in your network, and vice-versa.
- Take Stock of Your Resume and Skills: Summer is the perfect time to assess and update your resume and skills. "Review your resume and add any new accomplishments or training," says Terwelp. Also, brush up on any skills that may be lagging. "Take a class or two in the summer. Not only will you be improving your skills, but you can network with your classmates."
- Get Outside: Warm weather is the prime time for outdoor home improvement projects, and by helping your neighbors you can help your career at the same time. Walk around your neighborhood and offer to give someone a hand. While you're helping that neighbor, you can share that you're job hunting and tap into someone else's network. "This can lead to more connections, informational interviews and maybe even a new job," says Terwelp.
When it comes to your job search, summer doesn't have to mean slow. While that perfect swimsuit may remain elusive, you can use the summer months to find an ideal career fit. Your time and effort can reap big rewards and even land you a new job before autumn.