Is summertime a bad time to look for a job? Are there less job postings? Are people too busy vacationing to interview, much less hire for new roles?
People who are out of a job, or simply looking to change roles or companies, are often daunted by the commonly-held belief that hiring stops in the summer. If you fall into this group, you are missing a unique opportunity to develop your network and prospects. Job hunting is a year-round activity and every season has its strengths and challenges. As you would in any aspect of your career, you want to make the most of those strengths while mitigating the challenges.
Regardless of the season, you always want to be networking and looking for opportunities. On average, people are leaving jobs every four and a half years. Shortened tenures mean that everyone should be regularly talking to people and sharing professional goals, skills, and strengths. Make it a habit to share your professional information widely so people in your network know how you can support them or someone they know and so that you have a cache of contacts who know you. Very simply, that’s all a job search is: Communicating your professional value to others. The great news is that summer affords more opportunities for you to talk to more people.
Summertime is social
Experts agree that upwards of 70% of people find their next job through other people. Summer provides lots of great opportunities for interaction. Stay open to meeting new people walking around your neighborhood, at festivals, at children’s sporting events or at BBQs. You never know when a conversation may lead you to your next job referral. It can be as simple as answering, “What’s going on?” with “One big item is, I’m in the market for a new job. After 10 great years with ‘ABC’ or I’m looking for a new opportunity as ‘CDF’.” I’ve personally had a chat at my son’s soccer game that lead to a job, and I’ve had clients come from conversations at pool parties and fireworks displays.
Stay open to meeting new people walking around your neighborhood, at festivals, at children’s sporting events or at BBQs. You never know when a conversation may lead you to your next job referral. @pmbrackett #SmartTalkHR https://bit.ly/2XoictJ
While it is true that some businesses experience a slower sales period in the summer and decision makers may be taking more time off; a quieter season can translate to people in your network having more time and willingness to talk to you and explore options. For some reason, people are generally more relaxed and comfortable in the summertime. This attitude may be a holdover from school days, or a result of simply knowing that a vacation is coming up soon.
Even if there are less job postings now, reaching out to your professional contacts during the summer will put your name at the forefront when new jobs are posted in the fall. And, of course, you never know when the perfect opportunity will present itself. Every company looks at budgets differently and summer might be the time they decide to start looking for talent in order to finish the year with everyone in place.
I cannot express strongly enough the need to take advantage of summer as a time to network. Find activities and groups that suit your style and interest, whether that’s artistic, social, political, or natural. Charitable activities like serving in a soup kitchen can be an easy place to strike up conversations while providing a service to your community.
I cannot express strongly enough the need to take advantage of summer as a time to network. Find activities & groups that suit your style and interest, whether that’s artistic, social, political, or natural. @pmbrackett https://bit.ly/2XoictJ
If you’re looking for opportunities to expand your networking opportunities, here are a few ways to meet more people in the summer and all year round:
- Find a class at your local rec. center or community college
- Visit a local art festival or other summer gathering
- Go to parties where you’re invited
- Find a charity event and volunteer
- Become involved in a group or cause
- Participate or attend sporting events
When you’re working beside someone, or chatting over shared interests (including the best way to grill a burger at a BBQ) find out what the other person does and share your professional experience. It will be easier to bring up your job search once you’ve established a connection with the other person.
Practice making small talk with the people you meet at the grocery store or when you’re on a walk with your dog. Start conversations by asking other people about themselves or what they’re doing in the moment and share common experiences to build a bridge to a deeper conversation.
Remember: people love to talk about themselves. So, if you’re feeling shy, start by asking a few questions to get the other person talking. You might be surprised how easily the conversation builds.
Summer conversation starters
Still not sure you can get a conversation going? Recently, RiseSmart’s Kimberly Schneiderman offered some tips for making the most of those summer activities with some situational conversation starters. Here are a few excerpts from her YouTube video:
At a BBQ:
- How do you know the host/hostess?
- How’s your weekend going?
- What are your kids doing this summer?
- Any fun vacations planned?
- Say, are you having problems at your place with [insert problem here – it might be a pesky bug or household issue]? What are you doing to solve it?
At a sporting event (i.e.: kids’ sports event or adult team event):
- What team are you cheering for?
- Who do you know on the team?
- Did you see the game last week – boy, was that a show! [Insert a specific comment about the game].
At the grocery store:
- Have you tried [insert product name] before?
- What did you think of it?
- The check-out line seems long today. Is there a big event I’m missing?
- I just had to stock up on the [insert product name]; the price was so low!
At a professional event:
- What brought you here tonight?
- What do you do?
- Have you been involved with this group for a while? What has that entailed?
- What do you think about (keynote speaker, local item of interest, new rules affecting the industry)?
Take advantage of the relaxed atmosphere of summer to get your professional branding up to date. If you haven’t looked at your resume in a while, check to see if there are any additional accomplishments or skills that you can add to make yourself more marketable.
Get your professional headshot taken. Choose an outdoor location with great lighting. You’ll most likely look a little more refreshed and relaxed during the summer. Just be wary of looking too casual. Professional dress and the right setting are things you’ll want to pay close attention to.
Pay attention to your social media. Post pictures and updates that make you look successful and interesting. Instagram is the go-to network for content from family, friends, brands, influencers, and celebrities alike. You might share a photo of you on a sailboat looking hip and successful, crossing the marathon finish line looking healthy and ambitions, or simply highlighting your expertise with a picture from the technology conference.
If you have a little extra time, consider putting together a blog or an article positioning you as a thought leader in your industry.
Take a “staycation”
Even when you’re in active job seeker mode, it’s important to have some time to rest and relax. This year, consider a “staycation”. Instead of planning to leave the area, stay close to home and integrate some job search goals along with your plans for fun and relaxation.
Here are some possibilities for fun and forward movement during your “staycation”:
- Talk to three people about your targeted job, core strengths and interests. Make sure to make these conversations no pressure and an opportunity to simply exchange information. Begin by asking people what’s going on for them.
- Attend a new group connected to a core interest: volleyball, an art and wine class, or a technology or book club.
- Help out at a charitable endeavor such as the river clean-up, local film festival or charity marathon.
- Reach out to old friends and colleagues. You may start online through LinkedIn or Facebook, but ultimately go for coffee or invite them to your new group.
- Follow-up! Whenever you make a connection remember to follow-up on an offer, share an opportunity, or say thank you for the support.
- Post three great pictures of you in new place with new people or old friends.
No matter the time of year, looking for a job is always a process that begins with knowing your own goals, getting your marketing materials updated, and establishing networks through which you can discover open roles and receive referrals. Summertime, as the song says, “when the livin’ is easy” is an especially good time to expand those networks (communities) in both quality and quantity. So “spread your wings and take to the sky”, enjoy the good weather, longer days and most of all, the people you meet.