Summer is synonymous with BBQ, sunshine, and good times for most people, including hiring managers. However, if you’re in the job search and hoping to land a job by the end of the year, summer should also be synonymous with opportunity and increased activity. It’s definitely not the right time to take a mental vacation from your job search. In this post we’ll share actionable tips for how to take advantage of slow hiring seasons.
How seasonality affects hiring speed
Hiring is seasonal in nature. At times hiring moves fast. You may experience job search periods where you’re receiving a lot of application responses from companies. There are also times when hiring can move unbelievably slow. The rate at which hiring occurs depends on a variety of factors beyond your control. Seasonality is one of those factors. Regardless of how much you may want a job, it’s important to be aware that the hiring entity controls the timing around this process. And the hiring timing will always be affected by things like summer or holiday office hours, vacation days, etc. This is true even if you have the best contacts on the inside, vying for you to be hired.
How the summer may affect your chances of hearing back from employers
Hiring in general takes time because the hiring process takes time. However, there are certain times of year that hiring will take longer than others. Summer is one of those times. The reason hiring is slow in summer, is because more people tend to be out of office on summer vacation. Others tend to be in vacation mode. Out of office responses are the theme of the season. This will affect you especially if you have been applying to or interviewing for jobs. Before HR or the recruiter can invite you to interview, he/she must consult with the interviewers who will be involved. Several conversations must be had to decide on whether or not you are a potential fit. If a few people happen to be away on summer vacation, in the midst of your application blasting, slow-downs are definitely to be expected. The holidays are another time affected by seasonality.
What the hiring process looks like on the inside and how this impacts you
A great mentality to adopt during your job search is that of the hiring side’s perspective. What the hiring manager, HR rep, or recruiter is thinking should drive your branding, engagement, and interviewing. Therefore, it’s important to take a closer look at the hiring process. Depending on the role, your hiring timeline may vary. The more senior you are, the longer the hiring process will take. The reason for this, is that your salary is no small chunk of change and they can’t afford to get the hire wrong. Therefore the hiring entity is going to interview as many people as needed to make the best decision. The hiring organization will also need to gather the thoughts of all the key players – the people you will be interfacing with. And these people may need to have multiple conversations with you to get a solid read. Now multiply all those conversations by more candidates and we’re talking a lot of internal coordinating and scheduling! Now add summer vacation schedules to the mix. If you’re applying during a time where folks are out of office, this will only add to more delays in the process.
Be aware of how summer vacation mode affects your mindset and motivation
Summer seasonality doesn’t only affect the hiring side of your search. It may also start to affect your mental game and job search motivation. If you are unemployed or struggling in your search, the upbeat season may be a real downer. Everyone is in vacation mode while you’ve been more interested in going back to work than anything else! Despite your career rough patch, try and enjoy your summer. Use some basic hope boosters to help generate positive mindset. Get outside and enjoy the fresh summer air. Go to the beach. Remain dedicated to your job search as well. Now is the time to make some tweaks in your approach and get ready for fall hiring. It’s all about maintaining a balance during your summer search.
If you’re currently employed and searching, the office summer mode may make you less motivated. After all, if everyone’s so relaxed, why not relax on the job search too? Yes it’s okay to enjoy your summer, but this is no time to slack off in the job search. Try and stay motivated and accountable when it comes to your job search activities.
When does summer hiring speed pick up?
Summer vacation tends to have hiring at a lull until late August. After summer it’s back to business as usual and people will be more focused on filling job openings. The summer hiring lag will often mean recruiters have less pressure on them to fill roles. During this time recruiters may have more time for reading your resume instead of the 6-second resume scan. Recruiters may also be focused on sourcing a list of potential candidates in preparation for fall hiring. This can make summer an ideal time to engage your recruiter network. Therefore, the smart job seeker should take advantage of this lull with a strategic job search approach.
How to take advantage of the summer slow-down in your job search
It’s important that you be prepared to blast into August by taking advantage of the summer months. This is especially true if the job seeker’s goal is to land a new job before the end of the year. Seasonality will also work against job seekers in the winter months. The onset of the winter holiday means slow down leaving job seekers with less than 6 months of prime hiring. Since the job search can tend to take a minimum of 6 months, you don’t want to waste any time!
Start by revisiting and revising your search strategy
You can’t control the timing of your job search. In most cases, hiring timing is totally contingent upon the hiring entity. But that doesn’t mean you can’t do a little strategic prep work during the slow periods. The summer can be a great time to start doing branding, networking, and market research for the fall search. What are you targeting? Who can help you get a foot in the door? You can’t just wake up on September 1st and expect to land a job without the prep work.
The summer is a great time, to start your brainstorm around where you want to be, how to brand accordingly, and who to recruit for help. It could be a career change that you’re hoping to tackle. Strategic prep work help you avoid the temptation to obsess over the low application response rates during the summer. Most importantly, it will definitely help you stay in control of your career.
Leverage BBQs and summer outings for subtle networking opportunities
Summers can also be a great time to network. Use summer BBQs and gatherings as opportunities to test out some of your informational interview questions. Learn as much as you can about your new acquaintenaces’ jobs as a part of personal research. Explore the career paths of those closest to you and rule out those that are not appealing. You may discover that you have a new found interest in a new career direction. Also, you never know who someone might know. Your new-found BBQ friend may be willing to offer an introduction to their network.
Take a serious look at your resume and have an expert review it as well
If your resume has always been a point of uncertainty, commit to clearing up this uncertainty during the summer slow-down. The correct professional branding is critical for attracting hiring manager interest. And the resume is a big part of that. Yet so many struggling job seekers put total reliance on the document they’ve been using since college! And this is not good. Resume trends have changed. If you haven’t had your resume professionally reviewed by a professional resume writer than you are doing yourself a major branding disservice.
One of the number one mistakes I see on every resume I review is poor formatting. The second big mistake I see on most resumes I review, is lack of ATS optimization. Finally, having well-branded content, is critical to positioning yourself as the best person for the job. To test your content, ask a friend to read your resume. If the reader asks a lot of questions about any of the information when trying to make sense of it, you may have a confusing resume.
Re-engage your network
A solid networking strategy is the best way to land a job quick. Without your network, you will be competing against hundreds of candidates for jobs. You will also be up against ATS-systems designed to send your resume to the trash. Therefore, focus on strategic networking to generate foot-in-the-door opportunities at your dream company.
If your current network seems tapped, try these network refreshing tips. Yes, some people may be difficult to reach due to summer vacation. However, you should still attempt to make contact and schedule meetings. Networking requires casting a large net and finding as many leads as possible. Therefore you should never run out of potential contacts (and they won’t all be on summer vacation at the same time)!
Conduct some serious market research to uncover more opportunities and key contacts
Market research is also a great way to spend your time during the summer job search. Strategic research has the potential to uncover more jobs, contacts, and networking meetings with the right folks. Use Linkedin for targeted research. Search all the contacts within your target companies. You also want to search people who have a similar role to the one you’re targeting (not necessarily inside your dream companies). This will help you expand your network even more.
Market research on Linkedin is also great for brainstorming future career moves. If you’re unsure of your next move, strategic research is a great way for gaining clarity. Informational interviews are another great way for uncovering new insights about other new career paths.
Reevaluate your overall career plan during a slow job search
Taking a step back to career plan can seem counter-productive during a job search. However, sometimes the absence of job prospects or application responses, is a great time to reevaluate where you’re headed. Here is what I recommend for someone who is unsure of the next move and experiencing a slow search:
1. HAVE AN HONEST CONVERSATION WITH YOURSELF
You know where you are in your career. If you don’t, it’s time to have that honest conversation with yourself about whether or not you’re where you want to be. It’s a simple conversation that consists of answering the question: “Am I fulfilled in my work?” In other words: “Is this what I want to be doing for the rest of my life?” If it’s not, you may want to check out this checklist on figuring out what you want to do in your next career move. Even if you don’t want to have that conversation, you can bet it will come up eventually… So just have the conversation with yourself now.
2. CREATE A NEW PLAN
If you’ve already had this conversation and you’ve been trying to work towards your goal without any success, it’s time to reevaluate your plan. Ask yourself, why you aren’t where you want to be and how you can change even 1 thing, to start making traction. Without a plan or a clear set of next steps, you are likely to find yourself in the same spot next year. Identify a career plan that works and use it to set some achievable goals for moving forward.
3. FOLLOW YOUR NEW PLAN
Act. It’s as simple as this. If you really want to make a change in your career, you have to take steps towards that change. If you’ve set achievable baby-step goals, start to tackle them one by one. You don’t have to do them all in one day, but you do have to take decisive action towards accomplishing one at a time. A little forward movement each day will end up getting you where you need to be, so long as you are following your plan.