5 Tips for Heating Up Your Summer Job Search
Many job seekers assume summer is a slow season for searching and may even decide to take July and August off, believing they will not receive timely responses—if any responses at all. While it’s true there’s bit of a summer slowdown, the idea that companies cut back on sourcing, networking, or interviewing during the summer months is a complete myth. Don’t get caught up in it. Influential decision-makers are always on the lookout for top performers! To stand out, diversify your strategies using these five tactics to reach key decision makers.
#1 Use the summer slowdown to your advantage
According to Monster.com, “Third Quarter: Recruiters Relax a Bit, and Vacation Plays a Role.” Since hiring managers and recruiters are less pressed for time during peak months, use it to your advantage.
With less new positions being created and team members on vacation, recruiters and hiring managers will be able to take longer than the common ‘20-second glance’ to read and assess your branding documents. They may even be willing to take a more in-depth look at your background. Take advantage of their greater attention and make sure any gaps in your employment, or long or short tenures are explained -- even if you are a parent returning to work after staying home to raise children. Your chances are better when the reader has more time to assess your career story and skills—which slower months can provide.
The summer also means that the reader may be more willingly consider individuals with non-traditional backgrounds to determine if their experience and skills meet the job requirements in new and interesting ways. While you have their attention, you may have more time to explain to recruiters why you’re a match and how prior experience relates to the company’s goals.
Great news for cover letter lovers! Cover letters are more apt to be read in the slower months. Now’s the time to build an optimal letter that generates interest and showcases your character, writing, and communications skills.
- Give the cover letter personality. Since you’ll have less competition and the reader won’t have to scan hundreds of resumes, you can be a little more relaxed. It’s also a chance to be clever and use humor to grab the reader’s attention.
- Use quotes. Take your recommendations or get a boss or colleague to write a few sentences about their experience with you to communicate your professional image and your personality.
- Express your personality. Remember that resumes are statistical while cover letters can be emotional. Use the cover letter to make your case for why you would be an asset to the company and don’t be afraid to leverage your passion for the industry, and, of course, the organization itself.
#2 Join the gig economy or take an internship
In July and August, many people take longer leaves of absences/sabbaticals and vacations—which can be in your favor if you’re an hourly worker (The same is true, by the way, during the December holidays). Go ahead and look for short-term and contract roles to fill in for those who will be gone during the summer. Use these fill-in positions to build your visibility and likeability in the organization and leverage your expertise to find a way to stay at the company when your contract ends.
Summer is the perfect time to ask if you can intern, job shadow, or volunteer. The experience gained (even if you’re only doing it one hour a week) can be used on your resume to bolster your value. You could also provide free consulting services to a small business or startup in your area of expertise. Some helpful sites include: Idealist.org, Volunteermatch.org, and Angellist.co.
Some hiring managers consider temporary roles and internships as a ‘try before you buy’ scenario, or as an extended interview. Regardless, take the opportunity to integrate yourself into the company’s mission and culture and turn your temp/consulting job into a permanent one.
#3 Spice up your resume with visuals
Since target readers have more time on their hands, find a key contact to email (Applicant Tracking Software may not be able to parse visual elements, so this needs to be emailed directly to a contact) and send them a forward-facing, aesthetically appealing resume. They will be impressed and you will make it clear that you are an ‘outside the box’ thinker who keeps up to date on next-generation trends and insights to inform and entertain.
Highlight your performance with graphs, tables and charts, or send them an infographic resume/bio. In a highly-competitive environment, turning to tools like visuals or infographic resumes can help you to stand out from the crowd. While infographic resumes are not required and cannot be used for applicant tracking software, it is a refreshing change from the traditional resume.
In slower months, a visually appealing resume can make you the stand-out applicant because the reader will actually have time to read it. Your readers might appreciate and enjoy a well-created infographic, and you will have made a lasting impression. Don’t forget to include your traditional, original version in case it’s required by HR.
#4 Make a match—between you and the organization.
Summer downtime gives you more of a chance to be creative. A simple trick for making yourself look like a ‘match’ to the company you’re interested in is to have your resume mirror their website.
Visual match: Go to their website and look at what font they use and what colors make up their logo. Do they seem to prefer sans serif fonts? If so, select that font for your resume. Do they like italics? If they do, use some wherever it seems appropriate. You’ll come across more as an equal than an outsider to their vision and culture.
Research the company: Go on LinkedIn and dig into the professional backgrounds of some of their current employees. Do they all have similar degrees and training? Are they members of a certain LinkedIn special interest group? Join the same groups! Take an Oracle course that many of their employees seem to have taken. Start to follow some of the charities their employees support.
Create your personal brand online: Develop successful social media job search skills. Ensure that all your digital platforms are up to date and that your other social sites are set to private if you do not want the public to see everything about you that exists online. Google yourself and see what comes up. Also, be sure to include profile pictures on as many professional networking sites as possible, such as LinkedIn. That will make you look prepared, engaged, and confident.
#5 Volleyball nets—and networking
Summer is the perfect season for building connections. After all, with all the barbecues, beach trips, block parties, golf outings, graduation parties, playground visit, and concerts to attend, there are plenty of opportunities to expand your professional network. Don’t be shy.
Attend local association summer meetings and job fairs. The lower turnout common at the summer versions of these types of events gives you the opportunity to spend more time with the decision-makers and potential contacts who attend. You can find your local professional association by searching Google or LinkedIn groups, or checking Meetup.com for groups near you.
Propose outdoor informational chats or networking meetings to take advantage of the warm weather (which will be especially welcome on the east coast after months of dark and dreary weather). Reconnect with old networking contacts and keep open lines of communication with fresher leads. Go out for a morning coffee with as many contacts as possible—or ice cream at sunset! Many people feel better about things in beautiful weather, so leverage the longer summer days. Get up earlier to put in extra research time and stay out later to add in more networking time.
Extra tips and tricks
Use the summer to research company targets, update your branding collateral, and rekindle contacts so that when the busy fall season hits you’re ready to move quickly.
Interviews are better and more relaxed in the summer! When the interviewer is not so pressed for time, you can make quite a good impression. Remember that decisions may not be made until Fall but use the summer to get yourself known and to spark a more in-depth, friendlier interview process.
Take classes or courses that can bulk up your resume and add value to what you have to offer. This also helps keep your mind active. Check Google, YouTube, and your local library. Also, look into taking a Massive Open Online Course. These online courses are free, and you can participate from any location at all. Even while on vacation! Some have structured schedules, other have a set-your-own pace curriculum, and all can vary in length from one hour to several weeks.
The most important piece of advice for summertime job searching is to keep in mind that your competition may not be as tough as it is during other times of the year. Stay active, think outside the box, and have a positive, optimistic, can-do attitude while you’re at it. You’ll make a lot of progress while everyone else is taking some time off!
Celia Stangarone, CPRW, CEIP is a RiseSmart Certified Resume Writer and Transition Coach. With a background as a Recruiter for an MBE/SBE employment agency and an HR Associate at a marketing research organization, she understands every perspective of the job search, sourcing, and hiring arenas. Celia takes a holistic approach to her writing and coaching by understanding people through career progression and projection including cultural, behavioral, and digital observations to create engaging personal branding.