Yes it's August and many of us (particularly with school-aged children) have turned our minds to holidays and a good period of R&R. Even if we are not going away on vacation, August takes on a different pace from other months of the year. From a work and career point of view it can feel a bit like treading water; a time to catch up, reflect and prepare yourself for the tsunami of activities that is likely to hit you in the first full week of September when most vacationers are back at work and feeling a bit anxious or maybe guilty about the lack of progress and activity in August.
If you have embarked upon the search for a new job during this period then without some specific attention and special effort, August can feel particularly like a very non-productive month and a source of anxiety due to inaction. Headhunters and recruitment agencies may themselves be ticking over as the supply of new jobs on the market temporarily drops and, with the vagaries of holidays, few employers are actively interviewing for anything other than the most pressing vacancies.
How then as a job hunter during this period do you ensure that this is not just wasted time and, put more positively, you are able to hit the ground running when activity levels pick up in September. Here are six strategies you could try based upon our observations at Brosna when working closely with many highly effective job seekers who make great use of their time:
- Network - use the opportunity of a quieter time to revisit your work and social networks. Look really hard at how you are using these networks and what more you could be doing to target key contacts and let them know that you are in the market for a new job. Actively re-engage with contacts that you have not communicated with for a while. Update, sort and add to your network database. Remember a very high percentage of jobs never get formally advertised but come from referral and word of mouth.
- Goals & Targets - revisit your job goals and in particular ask "what am I really looking for from my next job move". Are you still happy with your previous focus or do you want/need to adapt it to open up new potential opportunities? Are you being realistic and honest with yourself about is/might be achievable? Pre-plan your September schedule to fill your diary with frequent dialogues and/or meetings with people who can help you open new job doors.
- Career Narrative - closely review the core messages you are communicating about you and your career. What are the critical highlights and achievements that you most want to focus upon? What have you learned in recent months about how you come across and where do you most need to adapt your message? Are you presenting a compelling enough picture about yourself and if not, what ingredients are missing? Does your CV and other documentation need updating to better reflect your narrative and aspirations?
- Practice & Feedback - review how you have previously performed in recent job interviews, including any feedback you have received. If you have interviews scheduled in September, use the quieter time in September to do some practice interviews and gain more honest feedback about how you come across. At Brosna we find ourselves particularly busy in August helping individuals practice and prepare for interviews in the following month. To speed this process we provide the opportunity to role play a job interview and receive feedback via video playback.
- Be Creative - step back a little from the details of specific individual job applications and ask yourself if you are being creative enough in your approach to job seeking. So for instance in addition to the more conventional channels for identifying and applying for jobs, are you trying more direct approaches to employers. Also are you unnecessarily limiting yourself in terms of geography, function, sector or would it open up more opportunities if you cast your net wider? Test your assumptions and try a different approach.
- And Finally - do consciously take time whilst you can to relax, chill out, reconnect with friends and family and re-establish some balance in your busy life. Remind yourself that although looking for a new job is a serious matter, you are never completely defined by your job. A period of relaxation and enjoyment will help you re-energise for the job-hunting task ahead
Even in a quiet holiday period or whilst sunning yourself by the pool, dedicating a few minutes each day to the above activities will put you in a great position to go full on in pursuit of your new job as activities begin to pick up again
Have a relaxing, enjoyable and very productive summer.
Brosna Career Consulting