1. Treat every day as a new opportunity for a fresh start. If you are looking backward with a tinge of guilt for sitting at the beach when you know you could have been working more productively to advance your career, give yourself permission to let it go. Recognize that every day presents new opportunities, and resolve to put in maximum effort from today onward.
2. Get support from your family. As schedules move into fall mode, this is a good time for a family conversation about your own needs for time to concentrate on getting a job. Make sure your family members understand you need to have regular hours set aside for that purpose. Help them understand that a critical way they can support you is by not asking you to run errands or do other things for them during the day just because you don’t have a job that you need to be at.
However, remember: In turn, you have an obligation to fulfill your end of the bargain and make effective use of your time. Set a schedule for your daily job hunt to include all the elements of a job search, including researching, connecting, networking, interviewing and so on.
3. Rework your résumé. Take a fresh look at your résumé. It’s time for a major rewrite if you have an objective statement or bullets that begin with “Responsible for,” or if you haven’t presented the story of how you fulfilled what what was expected of you and what results you’ve achieved at your current or former jobs. Remember to look at your résumé not just as a catalog of everything you did, but rather as a marketing document that shows the value you offer your next employer.
There are numerous books and articles about how to build an effective résumé, but if best practice “résumé speak” seems outside your grasp, you may well consider making an investment in yourself with a solid résumé writer or coach.
4. Make new connections, and consciously expand your network. All kinds of groups and organizations are coming to life in September after a summer hiatus. Make sure you are plugged into the local chapter of your college alumni association, trade and industry groups, professional organizations and so on. Attend lectures, meetings, classes, continuing education opportunities, retreats and other events.
Make a point of talking to new people and showing an interest in them. This way you are bound to meet people with whom you have something in common. Make certain to get names and contact information, and later check them out, connect with them on LinkedIn and keep your conversations going.
5. Be slow and deliberate rather than fast and frantic. Sure, you can apply to dozens of jobs online in an evening. But your chances of landing a job this way are very limited. Instead, take time to research companies in which you are interested. Carefully craft cover letters to show why and how you can fulfill their needs, and then network your way inside. Remember that it is always the value you can add that’s important, rather than the opportunity an employer could offer you.
6. Curate your online presence. Write a blog, and be sure to include links to professional articles you find interesting or stimulating. Engage in dialog within LinkedIn groups to answer and ask intelligent questions. And, on the flip side, get rid of anything on your Facebook page or elsewhere that could cause someone to form a negative opinion of you.