How to Stay Motivated During Your Summer Job Search

A frustrated person holding a tablet displaying an application form.

Recently laid off? Looking for a new job? Here are four tips to ensure you stay motivated during the lazy daze of summer.

Be reasonable.

Set achievable goals. Making unrealistic claims leads to neglecting your responsibilities. Setting goals depends on the person. For example: submitting one résumé per day can be a realistic goal for you, while others may set three résumés per week as a realistic expectation. Twelve résumés in one day may seem achievable to some people; however, if you’re spending less than one hour on readjusting your résumé and cover letter to match the job posting, you’re probably not going to hear back from many employers.

It’s important to know yourself and what you’re capable of. If the goal is too unrealistic, you will have no motivation to pursue it.

Set a time to wake up and get dressed, especially if you’re job searching from home.

Would you go to work with unkempt hair and pajamas still on? If you’re working from home, your house becomes your work – and you need to get ready accordingly. This small change in your morning routine will prepare you for the rest of the day. This will also combat the relaxation vacation vibe that everyone feels in the hot weather. Another trick is to work in a cool environment. Colder air keeps you focussed, so if you have a laptop, try bringing it with you to a local, air-conditioned coffee shop for the day.

Volunteer with an organization.

Having a structured schedule can be important during the summer when relaxation is most tempting. The best way to achieve minor goals and create structure into your daily routine is to volunteer in the field you plan to pursue.  Not only is volunteering a good way to network and gain contacts in your field, but it looks really good on résumés. Employers are looking for experience and volunteering is a great way to get it!

Treat yourself when you’re working hard.

It’s so critical to be kind to yourself. Job hunting can be stressful, and procrastinating on the job search can result in even more stress. One way to combat job search apathy is to reward yourself only when a résumé is submitted. The best way to do this is to develop a tiered system for your achievements. For instance, submitting one résumé may result in a snack, and submitting three personalized résumés could call for a Netflix break or a mid-afternoon lounge by the pool.

If you find yourself constantly giving yourself large rewards for minor achievements, there will be no motivation to push harder to get more done.

By Pam Simpson, a summer student with The Career Foundation. 

4 Simple Steps to Explaining “Gaps” on your Résumé

Mind_the_Gap_TCF

There is no “right way” to explain a gap between positions on your résumé. It’s a roll-of-the-dice how an employer perceives that gap when they first see your résumé, and is as likely to be scrutinized and judged when they ask you about it in an interview. The key to surviving this “red flag” is keeping your answer honest, positive, and without reason for further discussion – which is ultimately more scrutiny.

1.  Start with a skills-based functional résumé!

These résumés can’t hide a gap, but they do lead with pertinent skills before revealing when and where you have worked.  The intent is to win the heart and mind of an employer by directly answering why the employer should hire you within the first half of the first page. With the emphasis on what you know and what you’ve done, the hope is that this is where your interview is focused. However, be prepared to deal with the gap in the interview.

2.  Positive and complementary activities between positions

Don’t pretend to be Superman undertaking Superman things unless you actually did save the world. Beware trying to over-compensate with larger-than-life illustrations as it may not convince the interviewer. Simple and real examples (if they are in fact real) are the easiest way to explain how you’ve been keeping busy while unemployed. Training and certifications are best. Volunteer initiatives or projects in the arts are great. Being a “Home Coordinator” is good. Travel is cool, too!

3.  If you’ve moved or recently immigrated, then welcome! (And use this to your advantage).

This is the best-case scenario. If you’ve relocated then use that. Complement it with positive experiences in your new location, the energy you’ve put into understanding and adapting to the local labour market, and your enthusiasm to be where you are now.

4.  Honesty with heroic doses of genuine sincerity

Some have used humour and some have simply said nothing, and the latter is as bad as chattering at great length on any topic not relevant to the position you’re applying for. If you must indicate the reason you were let go, then do so in the most positive way. This could entail referring to changes to the labour market and company restructuring; and while these aren’t necessarily positive, they can be communicated in a tone that demonstrates your genuine appreciation for your previous role and employer.

Keep your answer short and DO NOT provide any additional information that might raise suspicion from the employer. This leads to additional questions – none of which will be focused on what you could do for that company. Add a sincere “I’ve been actively job searching, and in a labour market as competitive as ours is, I trust you’ll understand why I’m so excited to be meeting with you today.”

Jason Douglas Smith is a Training Application Coordinator with The Career Foundation, and has successfully directed clients in not only developing personalized job search strategy plans, but in circumnavigating the rigorous demands of applications for Provincially funded retraining. When not working, this self-professed Futurist can often be found reading, writing, and barbecuing in his native Burlington.