Summer job-hunting can really put you in a funk. Sometimes it looks as if everyone -- except you -- is on vacation. Your letters and phone calls go unanswered. Managers can't get around to hiring decisions.
But before you feel sorry for yourself or hang up the "gone fishin' " sign until Labor Day, consider the opportunities you may be missing. Temp jobs can lead to permanent positions. As other job hunters kick back, you have less competition and a greater chance to stand out.
True, it may be more difficult to land interviews, says Kathleen Voss, a Chicago-based career counselor, but summer is a great time to freshen up your resume, and take the other preliminary steps that are essential to any job search. Here are a few suggestions:
* Renew contacts. Most job leads come through personal contacts. What better time to nurture them than when business is a little slower? Jennifer Greiner, a New York career counselor, recommends you revisit your "dead file." "If you approached a company six months ago, try them again now," she says.
With managers generally more relaxed, they also might be receptive to a call from you asking, "Could I come in and chat with you about career opportunities?"
* Take stock of your goals. People can be the most helpful if you tell them precisely what you want in a job (rather than, for example, saying what turned you off about your last -- or current -- position).
* Go on a self-improvement campaign. If nothing else, use the time to upgrade your skills or image. Maybe you've wanted to learn more about spreadsheets or spruce up your writing. Even if it's too late for summer school, you can scout around for a private tutor.
* Do background research. To make the best impression, gather specifics about the companies you plan to contact. For instance, you'll want to check for reports of recent layoffs and new product launches.