Summer is almost over. And was it a summer like no other: no beach vacation, no National Parks visits, and maybe not even a trip to the community pool. Since March, it’s been a big blur for many. Because the natural rhythm the summer offers with travel, picnics, and parades was absent, the recreation and reflection that is generally part of the summer was missing. You might not have ventured much beyond your own backyard and you are exhausted just the same. It could be you are now working more, even at a home office. A recent study confirms that we are actually working more at home right now, not less.
August tends to be a slow hiring month, especially in the policy, government, and NGO worlds. In Washington, this is because Congress was usually on recess, and those groups that depend on watching, lobbying, and engaging with Congress would take a break. The pandemic has exacerbated this. Things were already slow, and now things are even slower.
Maybe you’ve given yourself a summer break from it all. That’s a good thing. Taking time to read, garden, or do little of anything has health benefits. Maybe, here and there you were thinking about what to do next career wise, even writing down an idea or two. But you were still in slowdown mode.
But now it is time to the put “pedal to the metal” so to speak, even if the drive is a virtual one. So how do you reignite yourself to get back into the swing of things?
1. Determine Your Objectives
Even before you reach out to employers or rewrite your resume or LinkedIn, you need first to consider your objectives. Is the job you are seeking a “bridge” to something else? This could be a short-term strategy. The dream job you are looking for might be something that will take more effort and time to explore or even require additional education. But a “bridge” job could be something to help you short-term to network, keep your mind active, or pay the bills. If you are not looking for a short-term job, but think the dream job is within grasp, then you need to develop a plan for making it a reality. Ideally, your plan would include specific steps that you need to reach on a weekly basis: maybe a specific number of informational interviews you’ve had, or job applications submitted, or virtual events attended. And evaluate frequently what you are have done. Friday afternoon is a good time to consider what you have done the prior week.
2. Reconnect with Your Networks and Social Media
Taking a pause from social media and networks during the summer can be healthy. The overload (and anxiety) of keeping up with colleagues, friends, and the news of the day can
take its toll. But now, reengaging is important. You don’t need to answer every email you’ve not responded to, so be selective. Indicate you were taking a break from it all, and now are back at the wheel. Catching up is good now. Inquire as to how summer was for others and let them know that your priority now is finding work. They might very well be in the same boat.
3. Return to the Basics
It might be time to review, or even rewrite your resume or CV. I’m often struck by people reluctant to completely rewrite a resume. Sometimes making additions and add-ons make your resume look a bit like a house where additions were added with little thought or planning. Your resume needs to be sharp, fresh, and contemporary in its appearance. The same goes for LinkedIn. Reconsider everything about your profile. If your photo is more than two years old, then it is time to update. Does your headline reflect who you are? Have you developed new interests that might lead to joining some LinkedIn groups?
4. Freshen Up!
Even though the fall might still be more virtual than face to face, that doesn’t mean you can’t freshen up. Can you up your wardrobe a bit? (You might say “Well they only see me from the neck up!” But there is a psychological benefit to sprucing up). If you can’t get to your stylist, can you do something yourself or have a family member help you out? If you haven’t up to now, start an exercise or meditation routine that you can continue through the fall. Commit to eating better. The excuse of, it’s summer so I can some more ice cream, is over. Sorry.
With the change of seasons, we have the opportunity to renew our focus on bettering ourselves, including a renewed effort in seeking career opportunities. Take this time to reengage.
—David J. Smith
David J. Smith (Fulbright Scholar, Estonia 2003-2004) is a career coach and the author of Peace Jobs: A Student’s Guide to Starting a Career Working for Peace (Information Age Publishing 2016). He is on the career advisory board of the Peace and Collaborative Development Network. David writes regularly on career issues at davidjsmithconsulting.com. He can reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.