The Dog Days of Job Search

Cure for the Summertime Job Search Blues

Is this you?

“I’m having a heck of a time with job search focus and motivation this week. Things seemed to really slow down lately and I’m getting pretty discouraged. I could really use some suggestions and encouragement if you have any…”

Boy can I relate. My longest layoff lasted 11 months. I was newly married, money was tight, and one day my husband looked at me and said, “You are the palest out-of-work person I know. Why don’t you take a break from your search and get a tan?” Dangers of sun exposure aside, I know now that my husband was on to something.

You can’t look for work 24/7. If you don’t balance job-hunting with life-living, you’ll make yourself sick! Whether you’ve got a job but looking for something new or you’re currently in transition, here are five tips to stay sane:

1. Take A Break

Take a few days off. Heck, take the whole week. Give yourself permission to completely unplug. Pick up a paperback, put on our SPF and try to enjoy a bit of summer. You’ll come back refreshed, reenergized and refocused.

2. Create Some Structure

Unstructured days are murder – we’re simply not used to it. Get a part-time job or sign-up for a volunteer commitment. Being accountable to someone else gives you a sense of purpose and helps you more easily schedule time for your search.

3. Set Small Goals

When I was between jobs I struggled to know whether I was looking hard enough. Setting small daily or weekly goals gives you a visible yardstick to measure progress, not to mention a means to demonstrate your effort to anyone invested in your success.

4. Tackle A Pet Project

Pick one day of the week and make it your work-on-personal-project-day. Seeing progress in another area of your life can be rewarding too!

5. Know When to Say When

If the blues just won’t fade it may be time to seek out professional counsel. If health insurance is a challenge then consider other community resources.

Here’s the drill. We all have slumps every now and again. Make time to recharge the batteries and don’t forget that every now and again you need to take a nap in the sun. Just don’t forget the SPF.

Dog Days of Job Search

Summer job-hunting can really put you in a funk. Sometimes it looks as if everyone–except you–is on vacation. Your e-mails and phone calls go unanswered. Managers can’t get around to hiring decisions.

But before you feel sorry for yourself or hang up the “gone fishin’” sign until Labor Day, consider the opportunities you may be missing. Freelance work filling in for vacationing staffers can lead to permanent positions. (When I was self-employed, summer was always my busiest time.) As other job hunters kick back, you have less competition, and a greater chance to stand out.

True, it may be more difficult to land interviews, but summer is a great time to update your résumé and your LinkedIn profile, and take the other preliminary steps that can advance your job search. Here are some ways to beat the summertime blues:

Renew or expand contacts. Most job leads come through personal contacts, and what better time to nurture them than when the pace of business is a little slower?

If you approached a company six months or a year ago, try them again now.

With managers generally more relaxed, they also might be receptive to a call or e-mail from you asking, “Could I come in and chat with you about what you do and career opportunities in your field?” These are not interviews in the formal sense–there may not even be an opening right now. The idea is to use such meetings to establish relationships in companies and industries where you ultimately want a job.

And look at all the informal summer get-togethers that have the potential to expand your circle of contacts. You could go along with friends to their company picnics or sports events. Another option:  plan a barbecue and ask each friend to bring someone you’ve never meet.

Take stock of your goals. People can be most helpful if you tell them precisely what you want in a job (rather than, for example, saying what turned you off about your last–or current–position). So use the next few weeks to set priorities: What’s more important to you at this stage–a flexible work schedule, challenging assignments, or a higher salary?

Go on a self-improvement campaign. Use the time to catch up on reading trade publications or upgrade your skills or image. Maybe you’ve wanted to learn more about social media or spruce up your writing. Even if it’s too late for summer school, you can ask a friend to coach you or sign up for fall courses.

Hard as it may be, take a good look in the mirror, and ask yourself, “Would you hire you?” Fight the battle of the bulge with outdoor exercise, or find someone to coach you with interviewing skills.

Volunteer for a non-profit. Working for nothing when you’re accustomed to a salary may seem demeaning, but volunteering has benefits you can’t quantify. Apart from the good feeling you get by helping an organization that you believe then, it’s a chance to network, keep your skills active, and build a reputation that can lead to your next job. Rather than helping out from home, find work that forces you to get out of the house and be with others.

Join a support group. Don’t assume you’d be mingling with a bunch of out-of-work losers. Many job hunters have found these groups a valuable source of contacts, encouragement and new ideas.

Make a list of your professional achievements. You don’t lose your human capital when you lose your job. Suppose you had an hour to catch up with a colleague who you hadn’t seen in 10 or 20 years. What highlights would you share? You may be surprised at how much you have accomplished, in terms of acquiring new skills, building a portfolio or boosting your company’s bottom line.

Build a virtual board of directors. At other stages in your career you might have had a mentor. Now regular contact with people whom you trust can give you a sounding board for career strategies, help you avoid procrastination, and get you back on track when you have veered off course.

Do background research. To make the best impression, gather specifics about the companies you plan to contact. For instance, you’ll want to check for reports of recent layoffs (bad news for job-hunters), new product launches (a possible sign of expansion) and recent earnings.

If being home alone makes you feel blue, take your laptop to a public place–if nothing else, the air conditioning is free.


About facet
FACET is a human resources consulting firm specializing in the four phases of the Talent Management Cycle: Attract, Retain, Develop, and Transition. The Group's practice specifically addresses facilitation of smooth career/life transitions for individuals leaving organizations as well as career management, leadership training and coaching for employees whose assignments within organizations are impacted by change or other organizational needs. By application of several directions of pursuit, the corporation accomplishes a single goal: maximum utilization of human resource potential and productivity through efficient hiring, training and career development. The Facet Group was founded in 1981 and is headquartered in Lafayette, Louisiana. As an ARBORA GLOBAL PARTNER, The Facet Group shares a parallel philosophy of the highest quality and standards with other owner invested firms. Through this network, we provide services worldwide. To address organizational needs outlined by its clients, The Facet Group offers a comprehensive package of workplace consulting services, focusing on providing high quality, creative programs which favorably impact the bottom line.

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