Capitalize on the summer slump
If you’ve recently found yourself sitting at your desk and dreaming about the beach or the mountains instead of spreadsheets, you’re not alone.
Staying focused during the hazy lazy days of summer is a tough task. In fact, a 2012 Captivate Network study found that workplace productivity declines 20 percent in the summer and workers are 45 percent more distracted during this time of the year.
The “summer slump” can also be attributed to a spike in vacationing employees who often time trips to coincide with school breaks. The Captivate study revealed that work attendance drops by 19 percent in the summer. The result? Projects take 13 percent longer to complete than they normally would.
The impact of the summer slowdown has a big impact on both job seekers and employers looking to hire. June, July and August are typically the worst time of the year to find a job because employers have typically completed their first and second quarter hires and won’t make further additions to their staffs until completing a mid-year review. And employers who are looking to expand may have a hard time gathering the staff they need to evaluate candidates and hold interviews.
But that doesn’t mean the summer is a total loss.
There are ways for both employers and job seekers to take advantage of this slower period that can help set them up for success in September.
Here’s a look at strategies to beat the summer blues and achieve your long-term goals – whether that’s landing a new job or attracting top talent.
Embrace the outdoors
For job seekers, this might mean scheduling a hike, a game of tennis or round of golf to connect with key contacts instead of asking for a coffee meeting. Your contacts will be more likely to say yes to something they enjoy and you’ll get more of their time than you would if you met for coffee or lunch.
For employers, warm weather offers the opportunity to engage employees outside. One of my clients hosts deck barbecues every Friday afternoon in the summer as a casual way to connect with workers. Sponsoring company teams to participate in summer events such as Tough Mudder runs or kickball leagues is another tactic to help build community and get employees from different departments better acquainted.
Backfill with someone temporary
Since many workers take vacation or sabbaticals during the summer, this can be a perfect time to draft a freelance project manager to fill in the gaps. Think of it as taking an internship to a new level by plugging in a professional rather than a student. You can even have the same person rotate through different departments filling in for vacationers. You’ll get the chance to test their skills without making a long-term commitment.
Try something new
As an employee, offer to do someone else’s job while they’re on vacation. This allows you to not only look like a go-getter with your boss, but also gives you the chance to try something new and show your stripes. Similarly, job seekers who aren’t having any luck securing a permanent job should consider working on a contract or project basis. This gives you the opportunity to not only try a new job but to also get a sense of the company’s culture and operations.
Build your company and personal brands
Take the time to evaluate your LinkedIn profile, resume and elevator pitch to ensure that they accurately reflect who you are and what you bring to the table. I’ve written about the importance of defining your brand and still believe the key is to focus on your competitive advantage. Use your LinkedIn profile to highlight achievements, special skills and recent projects.
Employers need to freshen up their profiles just like job seekers do. Adding new photos and content to sites like Glassdoor and LinkedIn will keep you front of mind when it comes to recruitment efforts. Culture is a huge draw for today’s workers, so be sure to include information about community involvement, your mission and the benefits that separate you from others in your industry.
Listen and learn
Attention job seekers — school might be out, but you’ve still got some homework to do. Research industry conferences you can attend that will give you the opportunity to network.
Look for networking events that you may not be able to attend during other times of the year because of family or work commitments. Read the latest books relevant to your industry or profession. Employees — particularly younger workers — crave feedback, so employers should use the slower pace of the summer to reconnect with employees one-on-one. Check in with staff to review their career goals and identify any issues that might be hampering their progress. Listening to their input can provide key insight into how to help improve performance.
While it’s tempting to do just enough to get by in the summer, it’s smarter to use these warm days wisely to accomplish your recruitment and job searching objectives.
When fellow employees are at the beach, it could be a good time to fill in at another job or join a company team.