The Definitive Summer Guide To Interviewing And Career Advancement
I am a big proponent of pushing yourself to succeed. In the past, I would look askance at someone who told me that they would just rather enjoy the summer, coast along and not worry about commencing their job search until mid September. I’d negatively view this person as a mediocre player who isn’t very career-oriented and as someone who wouldn’t go far professionally. I’ve drastically changed my stance on this matter. I believe that we have a massive mental health problem in America (and other countries as well). The rapid increase in mass shootings, opioid abuse, depression and suicides all share a common theme: mental health issues that were not properly addressed in time. In light of this epidemic, the most important point I’d like to suggest for my summer career and interview guide is for those who need it, take time off for the sake of your mental health. Go on a long vacation or stay home. Unplug from social media and turn off the television, resist answering work emails and focus on decompressing and taking care of yourself.
With that said, for others, the summer represents both fantastic opportunities, as well as incredible frustrations. From about Fourth of July, which is really the start of summer, until the end of August, it’s a downward slide for interviewing and career progression. August, in particular, is one of the slowest periods of time to interview — right up there with the Christmas and holiday season in late December.
Here is what to expect — both positive and negative. The number of job applicants significantly decline, as many people focus their attention elsewhere. Families are going on vacation, they’re taking long weekend trips to the beach or just enjoying this time of year. With the nice weather, especially in places that have long and cold winters, the mindset changes. The sunshine and warmth makes even the most motivated job seekers prefer taking it easy and enjoying the longer days. With other people out of the office, the work tempo slows and it’s much more relaxed. It’s easy to just drift through until September — when the rat race picks up again.
For those who desire a new job this summer, that seasonal career lethargy can be used to your advantage. With fewer people searching for a new job, you have a much better chance of catching the attention of a hiring manager. With fewer résumé submissions and the competition dwindling, you will stand out and be noticed. Hiring and human resource professionals recognize that if they don’t fill their job opening now, the role could be open for a long time, so they are motivated to invite you in for an interview.
I’ve seen throughout the years that senior management is very liberal with their use of vacation time. It’s common for your boss to be out of the office and disappear for long periods throughout the summer. This provides the job seeker with the opportunity to sneak out to interview without the risk of getting busted.
We still have half the year left, so if you interview and obtain a job over the summer, there is still time to qualify for a bonus — or at least a chunk of a prorated bonus, if you get a new job. As you move into September and later, it’s tougher to get companies to compensate you for any bonuses that will be left behind.
Be prepared for a choppy interview process. Due to vacation schedules, you’ll encounter a jerky stop-and-go process. After being selected for an interview, there may be a lack of communication, as the human resource person will be out of the office on vacation. When she returns, it turns out that the hiring manager just left for two weeks. Upon her return, several other important people that they wanted you to meet with are gone. Don’t let that deter you. Stay in touch with your internal contact at the company, so that you remain on their radar.
It would be wise for companies to recognize this trend and try to collaborate on vacation schedules to smooth out the hiring process. Companies can easily lose an entire two months of interviewing and top candidates due to scheduling problems. To make matters worse, if the company waits until September, when the traditional “back-to-school” mentality kicks in and hiring starts up again, the same candidates now have many more opportunities to choose from. You will most likely lose top talent to the competition.
Companies should also recognize that the mindset changes in the summer and it’s important to keep employees engaged and motivated. I’ve seen that giving Fridays off — or at least an early close on Fridays — is a great way to motivate the staff and give them plenty of time to recharge over a longer weekend. It’s a smart idea to have team lunches outside of the office to build upon the good mood that’s generally prevailing in the summer and encourage bonding, unity and relationship building.
With the more relaxed attitude, it would be a great idea for managers to engage in informal talks with their team to discuss goals, share ideas, commend them for their work and seek out feedback from them. As others may be out of the office, employees could ask their managers if they could embrace new assignments and challenges to learn new things. Companies could further lighten the mood by offering employees to wear casual summer attire.
If you are actively interviewing, even though the vibe is more casual, you still need to be professional. Please don’t wear uncomfortably inappropriate clothes, waltz into the interview drinking a cold latte or have a too-familiar attitude. Before heading into the interview, check into the restroom to ensure that you’re not a hot, sweaty and disheveled mess, due to the humidity and oppressively hot train ride. Avoid late-Friday-afternoon interviews like it’s the plague. The odds are high that the interviewers will come down with a mysterious illness and not be in the office. If they are in the office, their mind is on the beach and they’ll be looking at their watch counting down the time until the interview is over, so they could dash out to the Hamptons.
The most important advice is to have a holistic approach to the summer, which involves recharging, appreciating and enjoying the extra time with loved ones, seeking out a better and more well-paying job or engaging in a non-stressful and productive conversation with your boss. Keep in mind, before you know it, September will roll back around and we’ll be back to the usual grind in no time.