It’s the summer, which means that employers will be slooowwwing down the hiring process while managers are on vacation.

Ay-yay-ay… not so good news for job seekers. Or is it? What if there are some lemons we can turn into lemonade?

Here are some thoughts about using the downtime to your advantage:

1) Hiring Managers or your networking contacts may, in fact, be more available for informational interviewing or outreach. If they’re not on vacation, they’re in an office in slowdown mode with many people out, so they have time to return emails and phone calls. Reach out… even if you’ve already applied or reached out before. They just might pick up the phone or email you back.

2) People are in a good mood during holiday weeks, and more willing to chat, so be on the lookout for new connections – neighbors you haven’t talked to recently, friends of friends at a barbecue, people next to you on the plane if you’re traveling, etc. Make sure to ask what the person does for work, so you get to tell them you’re looking for work and what you’re looking for. (They’ll offer to help if they can.)

3) A job search is pretty tough, emotionally. You’re in your house, or at Panera, mostly alone and not getting a lot of feedback or positive support. Use family and friend time to make sure you’re having some laughs and getting your mind off the search for a while. If you don’t already have plans to see people this weekend, make some. Try to see as many people as possible, actually.

4) Don’t automatically assume that since it’s a slower week that nothing will happen in your search. That’s a good expectation, but there are exceptions to the rule; when I was a recruiter, I made job offers on July 3rd, December 24th, the Friday after Thanksgiving, etc. So make sure you continue to answer your phone professionally, but at the same time give yourself a break from looking at new postings until next week.

5) Use the down time to do some industry education. Look at books, blogs, online seminars, trade magazines, etc. Think of it as summer school for your job; what else can you learn about your field, and better yet, is there an industry-related book you can take outside to read if the weather’s nice?

6) Let go of guilt and be the grill-master instead. You’re probably being a little hard on yourself, feeling that you’re not working as hard as you can on your job search. You may also be asked by well-meaning but obtuse friends, “you don’t have a job yet?” Remember there are a LOT of people in your same boat these days, and find a funny answer, possibly involving management of your cat.

Try to relax, enjoy, connect, and learn. There are better times coming, and it would be a real bummer to let stress ruin a perfectly good holiday season.

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