By Caroline Ceniza-Levine
Forbes, April 9, 2019.
If you’re looking for a job, it pays to be mindful of business needs, such as seasonal hiring, and use the circumstances to your advantage. Many employers need additional help over the summer. Regular employees go on vacation. A business that sees an uptick over the summer (e.g., outdoor café, outdoor activity) may need additional support.
If your ultimate goal is a permanent, full-time job, don’t dismiss a seasonal job as irrelevant. With the right strategies, you can convert a temp job or internship to a full-time opportunity. The money earned from a summer job can cover your ongoing expenses and extend your job search time a few months. (Don’t assume this money is insignificant. You have leverage to negotiate as a temp, consultant or freelancer.) The experience and connections from a summer job may lead to other opportunities, if not at that company, then elsewhere. For rising college seniors or M.B.A. students in-between their two years, the right summer job can mean locking in a full-time offer by the fall.
Get started now to take advantage of seasonal hiring. Here are seven steps to getting a summer job.
Create a list of target employers.
Don’t just rely on job postings to identify potential opportunities. Create your own list of employers you are interested in, as well as employers who might have a summer need. Walk your neighborhood to get ideas for who might be busier over the summer. Think of smaller companies who might not have extra resources they can pull from different departments to cover for vacationing employees.
Get in front of employers early.
Many employers don’t take the time or even have the time to launch a job search well in advance. Some employers may not think of summer hiring for a month or two. This means jobs may exist but are not posted , and their in-house recruiters (if they have any) are not actively searching. In turn, lazier candidates won’t compete with you, if you get in front of employers early and contact them with your interest and availability. Target the head of the department you want to work for, not HR – the actual department will feel the need most.
Create urgency to hire.
When you contact companies, remind them of why they should line up summer resources now. You can lift my reasons from above (e.g., people go on vacation, business gets busier.). Since it’s not yet summer, employers might set your inquiry aside for later, and you won’t get first shot at the job openings. Create an urgency to hire so you move your job prospects forward.
Present yourself as the solution.
Of course, in addition to motivating employers to hire now, you need to convince them to hire you specifically. Name a specific job you can do, so you present yourself as the solution to your dream employer’s exact hiring need. This means you need to understand the job, match your qualifications to it, and lay this out clearly and compellingly to the employer. This is what you should be doing for any job, summer or not!
Follow up till you get a decision.
The approach I describe will likely occur over multiple conversations so be prepared to follow up. You might first contact your employer targets to get meetings. Just landing the first meeting probably requires multiple attempts. The first meeting might just be to introduce yourself, and confirm the business need. Sure, you will have done thorough research beforehand so you have an idea of the business need, but you should confirm it with your prospective employers. Confirming the need also serves to remind them they have a problem and to build a sense of urgency. Getting from identifying the problem to convincing them you are the solution might take several more meetings. Keep following up till you get a decision that is Yes or No. No response is not a No.
Sign up with temp agencies.
In addition to drumming up your own leads, sign up with temp agencies now who may have pre-existing relationships with employers to handle the summer hiring. Just like you want to get in front of employers before all the other summer applicants show up, you want to start recruiter relationships now before they get busy.
Use your university or alumni career services.
Another pipeline for leads is the career services office at your school or alma mater (if you have already graduated). The university career services office offers a variety of services, including help with your job search, job postings and networking leads.
You should play the summer hiring season to your advantage. However, also be aware of the disadvantage the summer season brings to hiring. People go on vacation, and that includes decision-makers. If your job search is in process, it may slow down over the summer. Try to wrap things up before the people making the hiring decisions go on vacation or are too busy covering for vacationing employees.