I recently posted this article that lists 4 reasons why the summer is in fact the best time to look for a job. It does de-bunk some of the myths around the summer being so quiet that you may as well just write it off. Re-reading it, I now see that it is aimed more at those people who are already in paid employment (particularly the bit about how you can slope out of the office and arouse less suspicion) so I thought I would give my thoughts about how you can make the most of this time if you are not currently working.
1. Give yourself permission to take some time off
Many people refer to looking for a job as a full time job in itself and I have to agree. Why then, should you not take some time off to refresh and recharge just like everyone else? Productivity and performance start with free time, which is the fuel for the energy, creativity and focus that lead to success. Burn out exists for everyone, those working and those who are actively looking for work.
If money is tighter than normal, you may consider a different type of break than you would have taken in the past; it may be one week rather than two or a ‘staycation’ rather than a trip overseas. Agree a budget with your family/partner and take a break from the day to day routine. A change of scene can put distance between you and your situation which can fire the imagination and spark a change in approach. The important thing here is to give yourself the permission, approach this break just as you would time off from a ‘normal job’, set the out of office on your email and update your voicemail to indicate you are away (or checking it in the evening if you are really concerned about missing that call). Job hunting can be addictive, there is always the imperative to complete “just one more” job application. Agree a time with yourself when you will be back in the driving seat, relax and enjoy the time off.
If you really can’t afford to go away, why not become a tourist in your own town? This needn’t break the bank, I live in London and found this article that provides inspiration for 101 things to do in London that won’t cost you a penny, I’m sure there is something similar near where you live.
2. Maintain your routine
If you have been actively job seeking for a while, you will have an established routine that gives you ‘anchor points’ throughout the week, which can disappear overnight come August. This may include signing on or attending organised networking groups that may be postponed until mid September. Why not take the lead and fill this void by organising an informal drop in session with your network from these groups? This can be something as simple as writing an update on LinkedIN to say “I’ll be in Costa Coffee in x from 10am – noon, please feel free to join me”
3. Critically review your job search to this point
Einstein said that the definition of insanity was doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. The rhythm of the summer break is slower than usual which can create more ‘white space’ and time for some higher level thinking or to critically review your job search. Which part of the process is not working for you? If your CV is getting you through to interview but you always seem to get “pipped at the post”, you need to review your interview technique and approach. If you are struggling to get to interview stage, you need to review your CV. If recruiters are not contacting you via LinkedIN, go through your profile and ensure that this accurately reflects the skills required for the roles that you are applying for. Are you using the same search terms on job boards and on LinkedIN? Try something as simple as substituting HR for Human Resources or Web Developer to Website Developer – I guarantee, this technique will generate different opportunities. What about adjusting your postcode or adding 5 minutes to your commute? This may throw up a whole range of possibilities.
4. Actively network
Things slow down in Corporate life during August, time in people’s diaries gets freed up as regular meetings get cancelled and their colleagues are on holiday. People are much more open to having a coffee with you, just keep it light, don’t ask them for a job, ask them for advice, people love to give advice and may use the meeting as an excuse to slip out of the office themselves.
5. Send speculative applications
Again, as things slow down in Corporate Life, people may be much more open to not only read but also respond to a speculative approach. What have you got to lose?
6. Learn something new
Use this time to enhance your skillset and make you more attractive to potential employers. I am a huge fan of Udemy, for £10.99 I followed a course aimed at absolute beginners to set up a WordPress site, Coursera offers a similar proposition using instructors from the world’s best universities and educational institutions. If you have a Premium Account with LinkedIN, you have access to LinkedIN Learning, once you complete certain courses, these can be added to your profile which is not a bad thing.
7. Read that book
You know, the one that has been on your nightstand for months. Job seekers in my network have found biographies and autobiographies of great leaders to be inspiring at this point in their lives, the chapters about overcoming adversity particularly resonate. Taking a break is of course the perfect time to catch up with a good book.
Use this time to write a series of articles for LinkedIN or your own personal blog. Once September comes around, you won’t be worried about having to figure out what to post as you will already have a library of compositions ready to go. Writing articles is a great way to differentiate yourself from the competition, you never know who will see what you write and like or comment on it. It also provides a platform for you to express your opinion on a variety of issues that may or may not be pertinent to your job search. How about a review of one of those books you have been reading?
9. Go for a drive
Get in your car, turn off Google Maps and drive where the mood takes you, be on the lookout for any new offices being built in your local area. Which companies are moving in there? Are they companies on your target list? Do you see where I’m going with this? This is a bit left field but has been effective for at least one contact of mine who saw new offices being built not far from where he lived, he made some enquiries about which companies were moving in. One was on his target list, so he sent an email to the Operations Director detailing his aspirations along with a copy of his CV and a request for a meeting. He is now working there, you never know where that one opportunity will come from.
Research some charities or other not for profits in your area who would benefit from the skills that you have, this confirms to potential employers another side of you and shows that you have been using your time effectively. It demonstrates to them that you can focus on the needs of others in addition to your own. Working with others who are less fortunate can put your position into perspective which in turn supports your own wellbeing.
11. Tackle a house project . . . or two . . . or three
Physically go around the house and make a list of all those annoying little projects that need fixing and get them done. Just think of the sense of accomplishment you will have when you have decluttered the garage so that you can actually park your car in there during the winter months! When you do get a job, all of these niggles will go to the bottom of any to-do list you may have, so make hay while the sun shines.
12. Be kind to your future self
Get your head clear and get in control so that you are better able to deal with what September will throw at you:
- Get you email inbox to zero
- Archive all those applications you made in March that you still haven’t had a response to (you probably never will)
- Sort out the filing in your work space – shred what you don’t need and organise what you do, you will be surprised at how the amount of clutter around you can physically weigh you down
- Go through your diary – think about what you would like to have accomplished by Christmas and start to allocate time to achieving your goal
I know this isn’t everything, please share your hints and tips below and however you decide to spend your summer, I wish you well and hope that you enjoy. Jane.
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