Summer is upon us! The price of gasoline has gone through the roof; millions of children are unleashed from school; and, guaranteed, job seekers are frustrated enough to put their job search on hold.
As we find ways to survive the gas prices and summer schedule, so too must job seekers find ways to accelerate their search.
While there is a general slowdown in hiring during the summer, the search process for exceptional talent is ongoing. In fact, decision makers continually evaluate talent in order to fill executive positions as soon as the Labor Day holiday is over. Smart job seekers should do everything possible to position themselves for the demand for talent in September and October.
Let’s explore traditional and out-of-the-box search strategies to give you a competitive edge.
The 3ft. Rule
Summer is an extraordinary time to network, as the season is filled with festivals, barbecues, garage sales, sports, and endless other activities. Guess what? Decision makers from every industry and functional area are participating in those activities. Now’s the time to implement what I call “The 3ft. Rule.” Don’t hesitate to talk to anyone who comes within three feet of you. If you’re camping, it’s the people who’ve pitched tents around you. If you’re at the beach, it’s the family swimming next to you. The list goes on. You can easily break the ice by talking about the activity you have in common. Then ask, “By the way, what is your business?” or, “What do you do for a living?” This kicks off networking that wouldn’t have happened otherwise.
Here’s a great summertime success story. One of my clients was having a garage sale and there was an individual checking out the used refrigerator for sale. My client thought: “Okay, I’m going to use The 3ft. Rule.” After a brief discussion about the refrigerator, my client inquired as to what the man did for a living. He happened to be looking for a mechanical engineer at his company, Mare Island. As you’ve probably guessed, my client was a mechanical engineer and landed the position in just three weeks.
It never would have happened if he hadn’t turned the conversation toward work. When you attend summer activities, don’t just hang out with your friends. Seek out other participants and network away.
If you’re not already actively listed on social networking sites like LinkedIn and Facebook, what are you waiting for? Recruiters and executive decision makers use those sites on a regular basis to find talent. During the summer, recruiters and decision makers spend a great deal of time surfing online networking sites. They take their laptops with them on vacation, and browse for talent while lounging on the beach. Actively build your Internet presence so key decision makers can find you.
Diversify your Strategies
Use multiple strategies to reach executive decision makers. Here are some rapid-fire ideas:
- Spice up your resume with visuals. Highlight your performance with graphs, tables and charts. Like they say, a picture is worth a thousand words. Be sure to see my article on developing an executive portfolio in next month’s newsletter.
- Target specific executive decision makers, not just an employer’s HR department, with your resume or executive portfolio.
- While everyone is using email to contact decision makers, take a step back in time and use old fashioned snail mail. It works – particularly with an executive portfolio.
- Make certain you attend local industry trade associations’ summer meetings. The lower turnout common at these meetings gives you the opportunity to spend more time with the decision makers who do attend.
- If you can secure summer interviews, they can be very productive. While the hiring decision might not be made until fall, the company pace frequently slows down and interviews can be more casual. Your potential boss might even be able to spend more time with you in the interview. It’s a great time to build relationships and sell yourself.
The summer slowdown is very much like the slowdown during the November and December holidays. Despite the lack of hiring activity during those times, key decision makers are always on the lookout for peak performers. Hiring takes off like a rocket at the end of summer. The job seeker who has been pursuing opportunities during the slowdown will be first on the list when hiring accelerates in September.
When summer draws to a close, if you have spent your summer wisely, maintaining a focused, intense job search, you will likely be starting a new opportunity.