For most people, summer's the perfect time to relax, take a vacation and operate at a more leisurely pace than during the rest of the year. But if you're a job-seeker, you can't afford to put your search on the back burner. Instead, use the slower pace and longer days to your advantage.
First and foremost, do your research, says Piera Palazzolo, senior vice president of marketing at Dale Carnegie Training. "Candidates can never do too much research on prospective job opportunities and companies they may be interested in working for," says Palazzolo.
"Individuals on the job hunt, especially those that may be new to the job search process, should take advantage of summer break by reading articles, browsing the Internet, and looking at social media and LinkedIn, in order to get a better sense of the different opportunities and companies out there," Palazzolo says.
Be Visible on Social Media
One of the biggest challenges in today's job market is remaining visible to potential employers, and social media is one of the best ways to help candidates maintain visibility. If you can't interview in person or network face-to-face with contacts, spend your time on sites like LinkedIn, Facebook and even Twitter, says Jayne Mattson, senior vice president, Keystone Associates, a career management and transition services consulting firm.
"Job searching during the summer, especially these days, is an advantage for candidates," says Mattson. "While it's a busy time of year and folks are taking lots of vacation time, understanding and using social media appropriately will enable you to keep in touch with current contacts and build up your online social contacts, when face-to-face networking is less of an option.
A recent Jobvite survey shows that 94 percent of companies used social media to recruit and hire new workers in 2013 by using specific social media channels to vet job candidates. LinkedIn was most popular (94 percent used the site to vet job candidates) followed by Facebook (65 percent) and Twitter (55 percent), according to the survey. Companies also said in the survey that they use LinkedIn to determine 'professional experience' and 'specific hard skills' while Facebook and Twitter are used to evaluate 'cultural fit' and 'industry-related posts' and knowledge
Mattson encourages her clients to actively participate on sites like LinkedIn, and to post industry-related articles, make connections with potential employers and do research on companies.
"LinkedIn, for instance, is intended to be interactive. Most job seekers don't take advantage of that as a way to become a thought leader on specific topics, to make connections, and try to convert these online interactions into phone calls and then in-person interviews," she says. "I encourage my clients to post articles that showcase their knowledge about their industry as well as letting connections and potential employers know they're still in the job market," she says.
And while Facebook tend to be a much more personal, she says job seekers should still use it to make connections with companies to increase their visibility in the job market.
"If there are targeted companies that you want to work for, 'follow' them, 'like' them and engage with their representatives by make comments, starting discussions and building relationships," she says. "Don't flat-out ask for a job, but you can send messages stating that you're in the job market and you're looking for more information about opportunities, which can build inroads into further communication," she says.
"Social media is a conduit to a further relationship. The face-to-face contact and presence is still the most important; so don't think of social media as being 'in lieu of' that in-person interaction. But do recognize that it can prime the pump for interviews, deeper connections, and eventually, a job," she says.
Be Productive and Gain Experience
If you're an inexperienced job seeker or looking to change industries, use the summer to gain more work experience, says Dale Carnegie's Palazzolo.
"When you're not applying for jobs or going on interviews, it's a great time to volunteer in a field of interest, or go a step further and taking on a part-time internship," she says. "Furthermore, being productive in your spare time will show future hiring managers that you have a proactive spirit and are more than willing to go the extra mile," she says.
Update Your Resume
Make sure your resume is as current as possible, says Palazzolo. Summer break and vacation is the perfect time to sit down and revamp your resume; you could even consider hiring a professional to help you look your best on paper.
"Whether it's adding new experience, or switching around items to promote your leadership skills up front, making sure your resume is in great shape before applying for jobs is essential," says Palazzolo.
Network, Network, Network
Tapping into various networks is a great way to search for jobs - and summer barbeques, parties and get-togethers are a great place to increase your visibility and let friends, colleagues and family know you're on the hunt, says Palazzolo.
"For new graduates on the job hunt, taking advantage of your alumni network or connections from a previous job or internship can be extremely helpful. Rather than throwing away the alumni magazines you receive in the mail, graduates should use these publications as a networking tool," she says.
Reaching out to someone you already have a connection with and showing that you're genuinely interested in their advice and experience can only be beneficial when job searching; remember, though, to show honest and sincere appreciation for their time and energy by following up with a thank-you note, Palazzolo says.
Practice Your Interviewing Skills
Finally, use your spare time this summer to practice your interviewing skills, says Palazzolo. This includes practicing your two-minute 'elevator pitch,' and even doing 'mock interviews' with a friend or family member to keep your skills sharp and ensure you're projecting the right image.
"Along with making sure your resume is up-to-date, another good way to take advantage of spare time during the summer is to practice what you need to do during interviews," Palazzolo says. "This includes mastering your 'elevator speech' to the point that it no longer seems staged, maintaining eye contact with those you interact with, and -- should you have interviews lined up -- incorporating your thorough research into your replies so that you are prepared."