It could be the season of being lazy and essentially taking a break, but career experts will tell you that it’s also the best time to get focused.
“Summer is a great time to look into new career options,” says Daisy Wright of The Wright Career Solution. “Savvy job seekers find time during the lazy, hazy days of summer to do some career planning. This might mean going back to school to learn new skills, or more often than that, looking for internal or external opportunities where one can utilize one’s skill-set.”
She adds that when it comes to making career changes or improving your skill set, many people reply on their “one-size-fits-all” resume.
“Before you decide to re-gig your resume, determine what your next position should look like, what skills sets are required for the role, and which employer[s] could benefit from your skills and experience,” she continues.
Resume writer and LinkedIn consultant Kamara Toffolo of Toronto adds the adage “It’s not what you know it’s who you know” will ring true forever.
“In fact, securing an interview, let alone a role, using an online job search as your primary strategy has a very low rate of success,” Toffolo says. “We’re talking low single digits.”
So where do you start? Below, Wright and Toffolo go through five things you can do this summer to stay on top of your career come fall.
The key to any successful job is finding time to network, experts add.
“Don’t be fearful of asking experts or professionals you admire for an informational interview,” Toffolo explains. “This could be a quick coffee or call where you can ask their advice on how they achieved such great success in their own career, and learn what they’d recommend for someone just starting out, making a career change into their same profession, or crushing on their company.”
And because it’s summer, it means people are more likely to be around or have some time in between vacations, Wright adds.
“People tend to be more relaxed during the summer; therefore, get out of your comfort zone and connect with influencers and others you have always wanted to connect with.”
When you are approaching someone to network with, keep your message short and personalized. “Don’t blast a bunch of people with a generic message,” Toffolo adds.
All of our resumes could probably use an update, but keeping a generic one doesn’t work.
“There’s this misconception among most job seekers that if they include everything that they’ve ever done in their career since the beginning of time, that one resume will help them apply to a variety of wildly different roles, because you know, they want to ‘keep their options open,'” Toffolo says.
Your skills, accomplishments and even tone must resonate with your target role. “This summer, rebrand your resume[s] using language and relevant results that relate to your career direction. If you have multiple directions, this could mean you need multiple resumes.”
And as you update your paper resume, don’t forget about the online one.
“LinkedIn is often referred to as a job seeker’s resume-on-steroid, meaning it is available for recruiters/employers to look at 24/7. The moment a recruiter receives a resume, [s]he goes directly to LinkedIn to see if the profile aligns with your resume. Are they carrying the same message? Both must showcase a consistent brand,” Wright says.
But Toffolo adds LinkedIn pages do not follow the same rules as resumes.
“It’s where you get to show how human you are, highlighting your dynamic personality and warmth. Make sure your profile gives this impression by being well-written.”
Most people don’t like writing cover letters, but it is a valuable part of the job application process, Toffolo adds.
“The default mode for cover letters is to regurgitate resume content. But how you should be using your cover letter is to explain what your resume can’t,” she continues.
“Things like why you’re drawn to a role or company, explaining bold career transitions, relocation plans, or identifying why you’re well-suited for a role even if you don’t check all the boxes in the job posting.”
You can also have more fun with your cover letter, allowing employers to see your personality. “You can use this downtime in the summer to create a cover letter template, where you customize it for each and every single job you apply to. Yes, each and every single one.”
Wright says it’s never too late to learn something new, even if it means taking out 15 minutes in your day.
“Employers love relentless learners, so set aside some time, even 15 minutes each day during the summer, to learn something new. It can benefit your career, and put you ahead of the curve when fall arrives.”
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