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Summer in the city

August 18, 2008. Orna Rudi

Jobseekers find that the job market is not at all hot during the summertime.

Summertime is a frustrating time to find work in any year, and this year is especially not easy. The job market goes into its annual hibernation in July, which can last through November, depending when the High Holy Days fall. July and August is the summer vacation, the school year and all its attendant turmoil begins on September 1, followed by Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur and Sukkot sometime in September or October, and we've arrived at November.

This is not an easy time for jobseekers, especially the unemployed, and most of all for unemployed managers. A manager can spend months finding a job, regardless of the summer somnolence. Adding a few inactive months can be a sure recipe for despair.

It is therefore necessary to prepare in advance. Let us begin with people who chose to leave their job just when this period is beginning. Lo and behold, there are such people. In a few cases the departure is voluntary, with the intention of taking an extended summer vacation. In many cases, these people expected to find a new job immediately and discovered that there was no one to talk to.

In cases of voluntary departure, people should keep three things in mind, thoughthere are always exceptions. First, it is better to resign during autumn or winter; summer is not the time to go looking for work. Second, if you have nonetheless decided to leave your job before obtaining a new one, you should prepare yourself financially and emotionally - especially emotionally - for long months of unemployment. Third, the more senior a post you are seeking, the longer the job search will take, and you should take this into account when timing departure from a job. It is also a good idea to verify the job market at any given time and assess the market personally, including assessing your marketing options, such as the quality of your networks.

As for people whose departure is involuntary, and who have less control of the process, the layoff should usually not come as a total surprise. The writing is on the wall, sometimes addressed personally. This includes longstanding dissatisfaction with the employee, accompanied by implicit and explicit hints. More generalized signs of pending job loss include warnings that the company is in trouble and cutbacks of junior employees and managers are in the offing. There are even more extreme situations in which people induce their own firing, either consciously or unconsciously, but nevertheless fail to prepare for the consequences.

Naturally, a correct analysis of the situation makes it possible to begin looking for the next job in advance, before the pink slip arrives. It is sometimes also possible to initiate measures to strengthen one's position within the company, if only to gain time.

If none of these measures work, what action can be taken during the sleepy summer months? It is definitely worthwhile creating a full daily agenda, including taking care of items deferred because of lack of time or desire. These include both recreation and job seeking. Even though the market is slow, summer is a good time to renew neglected relationships. People are less pressured, they have more free time, and are likely to be more readily available for networking appointments, not to mention the opportunity for well wishing in person, rather than by SMS or e-mail.

If possible, it is also a good idea to try to leverage these meetings into a broader network. If your interlocutor has no job to offer you, he or she may know someone who can, or who can augment your networking in the future. No less important, it is necessary to maintain ties with job placement companies, both because there is some level of business activity and there are jobs available, and because severing ties for several months can harm your chances when the market wakes up again.

Most important of all, do not despair. Understand that this is how it is during summer, and avoid drawing the wrong conclusions or thinking that you'll never find a job or that you're not good enough, which will not help your job search.

Orna Rudi is a career management advisor.

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