With school out for the summer, vacation is on the minds of many. For frustrated job seekers, vacation might seem a top priority after seas of rejection letters saying, "You're not qualified" or "Positions have been filled."
But should you see summer as an opportunity to take an extended break from your job search?
Career and human resource expert Sheila Curran advises clients "to see other people's downtime as a gift. If you slack off when others have less to do, you'll be missing an extraordinary opportunity."
Curran is managing partner with Curran Consulting Group in Providence, R.I.
If your job search hasn't yielded that coveted position, you deserve to be frustrated, but halting your job search or slowing it down just because it's summer can be the wrong strategy. Remember that many companies are hiring today, including Xerox, a Fortune 200 company that employs about 5,000 in Kentucky.
"It is summertime, and people like to take breaks. We understand," said LaShauna M. Smith, talent acquisition and staffing recruiter at Xerox in Lexington. "Xerox doesn't take the summer off, and we're hiring full-time, entry-level call center positions with benefits right now."
Xerox is only one of many companies looking for talent. Last month alone, I visited a few job fairs in Lexington that promoted a variety of opportunities.
Consider these reasons to keep going strong in your job search:
■ Many other job seekers or job changers will be taking an extended break, so you'll stand out.
■ Companies don't slow down in a competitive market or tight economy. They are still looking for creative ways to increase their return on investment.
■ For college students, the repayment schedules on most federal student loans start six to nine months after you graduate, leave school or become enrolled part-time.
■ And here's another reason for students: Stopping or slowing down your search just about guarantees that you'll move back in with your parents by summer's end.
Many career experts say finding employment is a full-time job, and that is partially true. I would suggest that you have to take care of yourself and invest in your career management wisely. Here are a few tips to complement your job search by maintaining your sanity and health.
■ Give yourself rewards when you make progress toward your career goals. Consider progress to be objectives such as applying for quality positions or making it to the second round of interviews.
■ Create milestones that you can more easily control, such as increasing your LinkedIn contacts by 20 each week, attending two career fairs monthly or following up on each application.
■ Identify a location to work on your job search. It can be a library or a coffee shop that promotes positive feelings and where you feel fruitful.
■ Keep a routine activity, such as volunteering your time to a good cause, exercising three to four days a week and getting six to seven hours of sleep nightly.
■ Network and network a lot! Alumni are excellent networking resources during a job search. And summer can be a good time to touch base with them.
"When your fellow alumni or connections are less harried and stressed, they're more likely to be receptive to your request for an informational interview," Curran said. "Invite them to lunch or coffee, and don't forget to build rapport before launching into your reason for meeting."
While you're waiting on that ideal job, here are a few suggestions to keep you competitive:
■ Be flexible and consider pursuing an entry-level position that might lead to the ideal job you're seeking 14 to 18 months later.
■ Keep the right perspective that your first job will provide experience, a chance to build your arsenal of skills and prove your commitment to your company.
■ Keep the negative feelings at bay and approach your search by embracing the lessons you've learned.
I hope you take a wise break. Oh, and Smith added, Xerox would love to employ you.
Lenroy Jones is the associate director at the University of Kentucky's James W. Stuckert Career Center. He holds a master's degree in college and university administration from Michigan State University. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org, "like" him at Facebook.com/CareerDude or join him at LinkedIn.com.