Starting a job search can be time-consuming and nerve-wracking in the best of circumstances, especially if you’re already knee-deep in a busy job or other responsibilities. Summer can often be a slower time for many, with kids out of school, vacation days coming and spare time to focus on giving your career a reboot in the fall.
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Many businesses slow down in the summer, as well, which isn’t exactly conducive to hiring. Take advantage of slightly less structured time to get yourself and your goals in order and improve your chances of a great new job in the near future. Here are several areas to focus on as you set your sights on new potential opportunities.
Perfect Your Resume and Cover Letter
The quieter summer months are the perfect time to get your resume and cover letter in shape. Whether you utilize online resources to do it yourself or hire a resume-builder, make sure you’ve got a professional document that details not only your work history, but the skills you’ve gained and any software or programs you have expertise in. For your cover letter, The Muse recommends you personalize each one to the job you’re applying for. It should always address the hiring manager, and tell them more about you than the resume alone does. However, be sure you’re emphasizing skills that are pertinent to the job prospect.
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Additionally, in this highly digital age of hiring, where many companies use Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) to manage hiring electronically, you’ll want to pepper your resume with keywords that are found in the job description you’re apply for, according to Forbes. That might mean you have to customize a different resume for each job, but it will be worth your time.
Don’t forget that many job leads are obtained through individual connections to someone you know. Be it a former college professor or a personal friend, putting a message out there to contacts that you’re looking for a certain kind of job — sooner than later — can help increase your odds of finding one where you’re not just a nameless applicant. According to U.S. News and Money Report, you should reach out to individuals personally instead of sending a mass email. Be specific about the kind of work you’re looking for, too, so you increase your odds of finding a job that fits your skills.
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Refresh Your Interviewing Skills
If it’s been a while since you’ve sat for an interview — whether in-person, over Zoom or on the phone — you might be rustier than you think. Take the time to practice in front of a camera or mirror, or even with a friend or significant other. If you’ll be doing a virtual interview, make sure you either have a professional background filter, or a clean, tidy-looking space.
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Create an Online Portfolio
If you have samples of the kind of work you do — particularly in the fields of graphic design or a writing — it behooves you to create an online portfolio or one that is easily transmitted digitally to showcase your skills, according to The Muse. From simple PDFs to an actual web presence you build through something like Wix or WordPress, samples of your work can seal the deal for a prospective employer.
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This is also a great time to put a little effort back into yourself. How’s your work wardrobe? Is it up to date or out of touch? Maybe it’s time to get a few new duds. Do you need new headshots or a fresh haircut? If you have a website or business cards, are they up to date and looking their best? Make sure everything is in order. Take some time to bring yourself, your tools and your professionalism up to the highest possible standards for the job you’re seeking.
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Last updated: June 2, 2021