What You Need to Know About Job Searching Over the Summer, According to Experts
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Lounging on the beach. Devouring ice cream. Cooling down beside your hardworking air conditioner.
The summer is a great time to do a lot of things—but is thinking about your career one of them?
To figure out exactly what’s in store for people who want to find a new job while the sun’s hot, I talked to a couple experts.
Summer Is a Company’s Budget Checkpoint
To give a bit of context, it’s important to understand what’s going on internally at companies over the summer. The end of June is halfway through the year. This means that around this time and into July and August, companies are checking in on their yearly goals.
“The summer for most companies is kind of their halfway point where they can determine where they’re at with projects,” says Dan Thompson, Senior Director of Technology at Vaco, which provides IT consulting and recruiting and placement services in the Tampa Bay area. “So for a lot of them, this is a good spot for them to be able to identify, where are we at in completing that project? Do we need to hire additional resources to help accelerate that project?”
In other words, many companies take these months to reconsider their staffing needs and whether or not they want to expand or invest more in certain teams. While some departments might start hiring more aggressively in the summer, others of course might not, depending on how they’re performing.
The kinds of roles companies are looking for this time of year, he adds, may not all be full-time positions. As teams decide what resources they need to complete various projects, they might lean more heavily on contract workers or freelancers in the summer rather than hire a permanent, in-house employee halfway into the year.
Hiring Doesn’t Slow Down All That Much
Despite popular belief that most recruiters are on vacation and thus not as focused on finding talent in the summer, Thompson says that Q2 and Q3 are some of his company’s strongest times of year for recruiting. “We’re actively seeing companies doing a ton of hiring right now,” he says.
The slower pace of the summer is actually beneficial for those companies, he adds. “This is their opportunity, when things are in the middle of the year, where they’re able to bring on folks and spend more time focusing on development and training and education of their employees.” In short, summer allows companies more time to onboard and train new graduates or entry-level folks who may require more attention than other kinds of hires, because during this time of year there are rarely as many urgent deadlines or important projects in the works.
Of course, the hiring pool also tends to grow over the summer. “If you’re looking for an entry-level or more junior position, there’s generally going to be more competition due to the availability of college students,” adds Angela Smith, a Muse career coach with a background in corporate talent acquisition.
But the Vetting Process Might Take Longer
The challenging thing about the slower pace of summer is that the job search process on a company’s end—from finding candidates to interviewing them to making hiring decisions—can take longer than other times of the year. You may receive feedback on an interview a few days later than you’d like or have your meeting or start date pushed back a bit due to a hiring manager being away or out of office.
“A lot of the key players who are supposed to be the hiring managers or maybe even the founders who should be part of the process might be traveling, they might be raising [funding], and it’s important for those people to be part of the recruiting process. So it does slow down a bit,” admits Amanda Mulay, Senior Talent Manager at Lerer Hippeau.
Nick Cromydas, co-founder and CEO of Hunt Club, a recruiting firm based in Chicago, agrees: “There [are] a lot of people hiring, but it’s really complex to nail actual people down in their schedules. We actually find that the average time to fill a role increases by somewhere between 20 to 35% over the summer just based on how dynamic the challenge of scheduling becomes.”
But overall, says Thompson, “I wouldn’t say it’s really noticeable to the job seeker. And the biggest reason I think that is because most people are very mobile. They are accessible almost at all times. Cultural mores and the cultural workforce has changed so much in that folks are able to do more Skype meetings and more phone meetings with folks.”
So even if recruiters aren’t always in the office, they still can—and do—hop on the phone, answer emails, read resumes, and conduct interviews while on the go. “So we’re not noticing the hiring trends slowing down during the summer like we did maybe even five or seven years ago,” he explains. Mulay adds that at smaller companies especially, founders are so focused on growing their businesses that they rarely take completely unplugged vacations, if they take vacations at all this time of year.
Executive Searches Are Big This Time of Year
“There’s definitely a domino effect that we see that starts in probably about the middle to end of May and goes through about the beginning of September before school starts. We’ve noticed that a lot of executives move during that time, that there’s a lot of C-level, VP, director-level changes during that time,” says Thompson. Summer becomes a good time for more senior-level employees to make moves partially because those with families don’t have to worry about uprooting their children mid-school year, and partially because of bonuses.
“A lot of executives get year-end bonuses that pay out in anywhere between February and April,” explains Thompson, which means most people don’t want to leave their jobs until they receive that paycheck—usually right before the summer season starts.
On the hiring end, companies are also looking heavily for executives mid-year. Once yearly goals are officially set—usually toward the end of winter—they can begin their search for the right leaders to spearhead those initiatives.
“The average executive search for Vaco is about 92 days,” says Thompson. “And so when you consider them starting in February or March, once they have an idea of what they want that role to be, that takes you really into May, June, and July...so then once those positions start to open up from the beginning of summer really until you get to the end of Q3 or until the holiday season, that’s when you start to see a lot of executives move.”
He adds, “A lot of things happen during the summer, and it’s truly an opportunity for [executives] to jump in to an organization and start to really get their feet wet at the beginning of the year to then start to make some systematic change going into the following year.”
The Same Job Search Rules Apply, But With a Couple Caveats
OK, so none of this information is all that surprising. If you want to find a new job, summer is as good a time as any to do it. And you can’t go wrong with the tried and true job search advice.
That is, if you consider these few things.
For one thing, don’t let the coolness and comfort of shorts and flip flops lure you into a more lax persona while job searching. “People get very casual during the summer,” says Thompson. “Just make sure that you’re cognizant of that before going into your interview.” Even when it’s sweltering hot outside, you’ll still want to go business formal (or business casual, if it feels appropriate to the company culture) when interviewing at an office or over video chat. (Thompson also advises that individuals try to avoid arriving in a pool of sweat, whether that means wiping yourself down with a handkerchief or changing outfits before walking in.)
Thompson also likes to remind people to be “professionally persistent” during the summer. “If you’re going to apply online or you’re going to use a recruiter or you’re going to reach out on your own, follow up and check in, but also be aware that they may be on vacation, they may be at a conference, and that they’re probably not ignoring you,” he says.
Finally, “be careful about social media,” he emphasizes. In the summer, many of us are tempted to share our fun—and sometimes not-as-professional—antics online. But, says Thompson, “social media is one place where you get to control what your image looks like to a potential employer.” And certain posts, in the wrong hands, can affect whether or not you get hired. So clean your profiles up, or at least make them private.
Cromydas adds that applying to jobs in the summer requires the same kind of dedication (if not more) as other seasons. “Job boards are generally, for the most part, somewhat of a black hole. There are a lot of companies that do an incredible job of managing them, but there are a lot of companies that don’t. So I think the challenge is the same challenge [as other times of year]—if companies are getting hundreds, if not thousands, of applications across their business all year round, you’re now doing it in a period where there are less people potentially manning the funnel.” So in addition to applying, if you want your name to make its way into a hiring manager’s lap, you may want to do a bit of networking and outreach. In other words, he suggests, don’t just rely on one channel to gain traction—especially a channel that may be in more or less of a vacation mode.
“Keep looking for open positions, keep networking, and keep applying! Because there’s such a misperception that companies don’t hire in the summer, a lot of candidates may ease up on their searches. That gives you a chance to stand out just because you’re the one applying,” says Smith. “Otherwise, just treat it like a regular job search during the rest of the year.”