July 16, 2011

Don’t Get Sidetracked by Summer

Summer in my home state of Minnesota is almost comical for job search counselors. We brace ourselves for spotty attendance in workshops, last minute cancellations of appointments and all kinds of "dog-ate-my-homework" excuses for slowed-down job searches. The culprit, of course, is the summer weather. When you live under a blanket of snow for half the year, it’s nearly impossible to stay indoors writing cover letters on one of the few sunny days the area has to offer.

One solution that allows for maximum outdoors time would be work that brings you into the sunshine, such as a summer camp job or horticulture. But of course, that solution only helps once you’re re-employed. Until then, I’ve thought of some ways the job search itself can be modified to take advantage of your area’s best seasons.

1. Take your networking outside. Whenever it seems possible (and professional), consider asking the person you’re networking with to join you for a short walk outside instead of a meeting in an office. If it’s a coffee meeting, invite them to sit on the coffee shop’s patio with you.

2. Take your computing outside. This might be tricky, depending on the portability of your papers and computer. But if you can set up a semi-sheltered workspace where you can breath the fresh air, you might find yourself less stifled by the work itself.

3. Get up earlier to do your job search. Many job search tasks can be done before the start of the work day (and the beautiful weather). Why not schedule yourself to finish most of your day’s efforts before you’re tempted to goof off?

4. Give yourself three- or four-day weekends now and then. Once in a while it makes sense to give in and enjoy the distraction you’re working so hard to avoid. But only if you can convince yourself to buckle back down and get your job search underway again when you return to it.

5. Consider taking the summer off from job search. I don’t suggest that lightly, but when that’s the actual effect anyway for a number of my job seekers I figure they might as well ask themselves at the beginning of the season: Am I serious about my job search right now? If your answer to that is no and you can manage it financially, maybe you should just admit the truth and enjoy the season.

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