It’s not surprising to me that the U.S. unemployment rate went up in July—I believe one factor for the slowdown is vacation-time: often interviews are postponed and offers are delayed on the basis of personal plans of key decision makers. (Keep this in mind if you’re waiting to hear about your application status for your dream job—the delay is often related to internal matters more than it is to indecision). I live in Manhattan, and I can tell how many people are away by the size of the lines for free kayaking on the Hudson, frozen Hot Chocolate and Trader Joe’s. This weekend, the wait time is minimal: it’s the welcome equivalent of Fast Pass at Disney.
If you are in “wait-and-see” mode, here are five strategies to power your career through the doldrums of summer:
1. Take one small step to promote your career health everyday. Get in touch with an old mentor, recommend a colleague on LinkedIn, set up an automated job search agent to send you listings based on keywords of interest, or read about trends in your field. (This tip comes courtesy of Lindsey Pollak, author of College to Career.)
2. Approach your current work from a new perspective—as if you were leaving. More specifically, what are the most important elements and responsibilities of your job that you’d like to ensure your successor understands? In your spare time, document tips, strategies, and best practices—this will make it easier for you and your colleagues when you get a new job—and will help them speak to your professionalism later. (An additional side benefit: this may also provide you with a fresh perspective on your current job.)
3. Browse the Career section at your local bookstore—and online websites. Prepare your mind for a new challenge—even if you’re not there quite yet. If you haven’t changed jobs in a while, you may want to read “Your First 90 Days.” If you’re in need of a laugh, I recommend “50 Jobs Worse than Yours.”
4. Think of networking in broad terms, and remember that leads can come from the most unlikely places. A common misperception among emerging professionals is that the best networking opportunities exist in formal environments, such as professional association meetings, conferences, and career fairs. In reality, you can make a great contact while waiting in line, attending a cook-out, or while sitting on the beach with friends. Remember the Six Degrees of Separation theory? It’s just been validated by Microsoft.
5. Take advantage of your vacation time. According to an annual survey conducted by Expedia, Americans will forfeit an average of three paid vacation days in 2008—simply because they don’t make time to take it. Do you really want to contribute to the 460 million vacation days that will go unused?
Follow these strategies and—regardless of whether you get the job or not—you’ll be well-positioned to take advantage of your next opportunity when it appears!
Cross-posted at Careers in Context