Cap­i­tal­ize on the sum­mer slump

The Denver Post - - BUSINESS - By Lau­ren Sven Lau­ren Sveen is a tal­ent strate­gist who helps in­de­pen­dent pro­fes­sion­als con­nect with fast­grow­ing busi­nesses. She is a speaker on work­place strat­egy, per­sonal re­brand­ing and work-life in­te­gra­tion. You can reach her at lau­ren@ tal­en­tre­de­fine

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.

As­so­ci­ated Press file

When fel­low em­ploy­ees are at the beach, it could be a good time to fill in at an­other job or join a com­pany team.

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