Whether your like your boss or not, you know the feeling I’m talking about:  you breathe a huge sigh of relief when the boss heads out of town for some R&R.

Sure, you probably have more to do – but, in general, it’s nice to have a little break, to not to have someone breathing down your neck or scheduling project review meetings.  And your stress level probably goes down by some serious percentage points when the boss is out, too.

Here’s why your boss’s time off is a golden opportunity for you, too:  you can use your schedule flexibility to connect, catch up and strategize for future career success.  This is your key moment to further your job search when your boss is on vacation.

Here are 10 things job seekers can do, both at your current job and externally for your job search, to make key progress while the boss is out:

Within your current job:

  • Handle things (and let your boss know).  

You hate getting back from vacation with 10 annoying problems to solve, right?  So does your boss.  Handle things, and make sure you somehow let your boss see when he/she gets back that “it’s all set.” Make that the boss’s pet project, in particular, doesn’t go sideways during vacation.

  • Get some face time with your boss’s boss

We’ve seen over and over that the best way to get hired is to know a senior executive who can pull you into a new organization, years later.  Now’s a great time to make sure that a future game-changer for you sees you at your best.  Instead of staying in your corner of the office, make sure your boss’s boss understands that you’re a problem solver and go-to employee.

  • Nurture an executive-level reference at your current company

When you’re changing jobs, you don’t want to give your current boss as a reference.  However, if you can find another executive at the company (who’d keep it on the down low) who will vouch for you, great.  Take some time to build and strengthen a relationship with someone you think would be a reference for you in the future.

  • Schedule a “vision session” for the next 6 months at your current job

It’s true for all of us: when we’re back to back with status reports and meetings, we tend to forget about the big picture.  Even if you’re intending to leave your current job ASAP, schedule some career-strengthening strategy time.  What projects or learning opportunities might help both you AND your organization?  Are there resume-building items that you could accomplish within the next 6 months?

  • Have a housekeeping power-session where you get organized

In your day-to-day rush, are there things that need to get organized, categorized or updated?  Take some time to “clean house” and get yourself organized.  Clean out your inbox (zero inbox feels great!), update your reports, and feel how good it feels to have a clean desk.  (You’ll need it when the boss comes back on Monday and drops some new action items on it!)

I haven’t forgotten about your job search:  here’s how you can use some of that free time on your future:

  • Schedule networking calls/ meetings/coffees, or job interviews

If you have flexibility when your boss is out of the office, use it!  Schedule a few networking conversations to update people about your job search, ask for (or offer) advice, and get some new ideas for your search.  Or, obviously, if you’ve got a job interview invite, try to schedule it when the boss is out so you don’t have to pretend you’re visiting the dentist, AGAIN.

  • Connect with your references just to check in and keep them updated

Your references are a key part of your job search, so what about taking a moment to reach out and give them a BRIEF update about your search, thanking them again for offering to be a reference when the time is right?

  • Schedule an hour for a “vision session” for your career

In a job search, it’s super easy to get tunnel vision and just put one foot in front of the other, since you’re busy and fitting a job search into the corners of your life.  That said, if you’ve got a small window of time to turn off all distractions and think big for your career- how might that change what actions you take in the upcoming weeks and months?

  • Make a list of your recent “wins” at work and update your resume if you haven’t done it recently

If you’ve been at this job search thing for a while, you have likely completed some projects that would be great resume fodder.  Take a minute and take some fresh eyes to your resume, to see if there are any good results you can add in.  (If not, go back to your strategic planning to see what you might be able to add soon!)

  • Research salaries and potential employers

I’m not trying to make you cranky with this one, honestly I’m not.  You may be underpaid (or overpaid) and it might temporarily make you more unhappy with your job, but knowledge is better than turning a blind eye to data.  What are people with your skill set making these days in the roles you’re looking at?  What’s the culture *actually* like at your ideal company?

Yes, these may be adding to your to-do list when you really want to be leaving a little bit early while the clock-watcher is gone.  So, I’ll add one more:  plan your own vacation, if you haven’t had one recently.

~ Kathy Robinson

Founder, TurningPoint


Question for you:  What do you think is the best tip for your job search when your boss is on vacation?