In a typical year, I tell my clients to anticipate a slow-down in their career transition momentum during the summer months. But this year, this may not be the case. During the unpredictability of COVID, many professionals chose to stay in their current jobs, even if it wasn’t the right fit. With hiring and economic activity picking back up, it seems that people are now poised to make some changes and move on.
I can’t say what will happen with the job market this summer, but here is some advice to keep you moving forward in your transition journey.
Prioritize rest (if you can).
After a year of cancelled vacations and working from home, people are eager to enjoy travel and relaxation with their loved ones.
So many people leave paid time off on the table, but I believe there needs to be a better balance of work and play this year. Families need to get out there and experience what we’ve missed over the past 18 months. To be healthy moving forward, you need to prioritize your personal life, mental health, and taking care of yourself. Coming out of these hard months, that is the most important thing.
However, I recognize that some do not have this option, and are in a situation where they need to find the next opportunity—and soon. In that case, you can still keep the momentum going even in the summer moths.
Invest in relationships.
A successful career (and a full life) is relationship-driven. When you’re in a slow season, it’s always wise to invest in your network. Many people don’t realize this, but only 30% of jobs are found through ads or recruiters. 70% of the job market is not advertised and is found through your network.
For those anticipating changes, you have to start building your network with your next step in mind. For example, let’s say I’m in healthcare, and I’m at the director level. I want to make a change, possibly even transition to the VP level. If my network is made up of other directors, that network can give me helpful information, but likely won’t help me to reach new career goals. I need to get out of my comfort zone and network with those who are making those hiring decisions at the next level.
Be responsive to those in your network. Stop ghosting people. People remember that, and when you ghost someone, you let them create your reputation. If you want to stand out in the crowd and earn respect, close the loop.
Assemble a team to think through your options.
If you have to move on from your current position, explore your options. We tend to go to the path of least resistance—familiar types of work or industries where your skills have been used before. But it’s important to look at other opportunities where your abilities might transfer and different kinds of positions that could be a fit. This is especially important as unique opportunities are coming up because of pivots made and lessons learned during the pandemic.
When you start with limited options, you go into the transition process with a mindset of scarcity. Instead, explore options with friends. It can be hard to think outside the box on your own. Bring in people you know and trust to consider your experience, skills, personality, and past successes, then brainstorm about your options. Do your homework. You may have to work harder to help your audience see that you are a fit, but thinking outside the box will open up more opportunities.
Consider the short-term.
There is a job deficit out there right now in industries that serve the public. If you need an immediate opportunity, whether for financial or personal reasons, you may not want to wait. When the rush is on in September when the current COVID recovery stimulus is over, biding your time may backfire. Furthermore, when you’re employed on some level, you feel better about yourself. It’s always easier to look for your next job when you have a job—even if it’s not a long-term fit.
The job market is always unpredictable, but you can continue to control what you can in your career transition journey by resting when you can, developing your network, and looking for new kinds of opportunities, both in the short-term and long-term.