Does July have you constantly daydreaming about laying on a beach in the Caribbean? A fantasy jaunt to Asia? Hanging out at that summer share in the Hamptons? Or planning a barbeque for a few friends? Whatever your summer reverie is, it is likely being abruptly interrupted by the reality that you want to leave your current job.
The summer time can be a challenging period to search for a job. If you are currently employed, you may be experiencing enough of a lull at work, to have more time to pursue a new job search. If you are currently unemployed, you may feel demoralized by the search process, and just want to enjoy the summer. I find that many of my clients have trouble staying motivated in the midst of job search during the summer months. If you are frustrated by your lack of progress in landing a new position, here are 5 reasons that your summer job search is not working and how to fix it to land your ideal job.
- You have unrealistic goals. During a healthy economy, the average job search can take 3-6 months. However, when you entered your job search, you likely intended to land in 1-2 months. While not impossible, it may be more challenging due to the reality of summer scheduling. The summer months can be a bit slower in terms of hiring due to staff vacations, a focus on internal planning within companies, and the end of yearly budgets (some fiscal years end in June like education). It is important to set manageable, yet realistic goals. Rather than feeling frustrated that you have not landed after sending out a few applications, consider sending out 10 applications a week, and anticipate getting about 1 response. There is generally about a 10% return rate on cold applications (i.e., with no internal contact). Focus on networking where return rates are far greater and set up meetings with friends, colleagues, and networking contacts.
- You are in summer mode. Although the business world functions year-round, most of us are still influenced by a school year calendar. That is, we feel that from September to May we should work hard, and then the summer months (June to August), we should be able to take a break. This mentality impacts your ability to focus on an active job search with a sense of urgency. Job search doesn’t have to be a grind, but you do need to demonstrate consistency in the process. Make it fun by rewarding yourself for task completion. If you have completed a networking meeting in the morning, maybe a nice lunch or beach outing may be in order. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing. You can enjoy your summer, while also focusing on your job search.
- You are socializing more than networking. The summer is a great time to catch up with friends and old colleagues. While it is wonderful to do so, if you are in a job search, it is critical that you balance socializing with networking. Socializing is engaging with others but not necessarily discussing that you are in the process of a job search. While many people prefer to manage a job search in solitude, oftentimes feeling embarrassed about it, the best way to go about it is to make it a social event. If other friends are searching, organize a job search group, where you can discuss your leads, and provide assistance to friends about their pitches or positioning. The power of the group can lead to better results, and make it a more enjoyable and social experience. If others in your network are not currently in an active job search, you may wish to find a job search club in your area to share the experience with others and source leads.
- The weather is great, but your outlook is gloomy. If you have convinced yourself that a job search is not a fun or productive summer activity, then it will certainly not be one. Embrace the task as a positive adventure, an opportunity for a new chapter to be written. By changing your perspective, and embracing an attitude of optimism (e.g. a belief that your efforts will pay off in a great job) and resilience (e.g. constantly pushing through despite your reluctance to do so after several rejections), you will find that a summer job search can be successful.
- You haven’t realized that your job search process is going to get a lot worse in the Fall. You may think that you will magically land a role right before Labor Day, but if you aren’t putting forth the effort, then the positive results may not follow. If you feel it is bad now, while your manager is on a extended vacation, and you are out of the office on summer Fridays and everyone’s taking long lunches, it’s going to be a lot more difficult when everyone is ready to work full speed in the Fall and you will be expected to be motivated and recharged after the summer. If not much has happened during your search over the summer, in essence, you will begin your search process in the Fall, which will likely mean that you won’t be leaving this company until December in the best case scenario. Are you ready to spend another Fall there?
It’s possible to soak up the joys of summer and also to jumpstart your job search. Use your summer job search to put yourself in a good position for a departure in the Fall. It may take a little extra energy this summer, but it will be worth it. Focus on your networking, keep your energy optimistic, have realistic goals and remember Fall is right around the corner.