and the livin’ is easy (or should be). A favorite song from one of my favorite musicals, Porgy and Bess, this tune just forces you to kick back and think of summer’s delightful season. In nearly every piece of print media you pick up in July, you’ll find a top-10 or best tips list devoted to summer.
Making an informal survey this month of the 20 or so trade journals and magazines to which I subscribe, I found no fewer than four exact duplicates of a quote I used myself in a previous year’s summer issue of a newsletter I publish for those in my industry (The Word Advantage). The quote, from Henry James, is, “Summer afternoon - Summer afternoon … the two most beautiful words in the English language.” That, combined with all the “best things to do in July” lists that keep appearing, made me reconsider the glories of a summer afternoon from the standpoint of job search and careers in general. So here’s my list of perfect things to do in July relative to your career:
1. Retool your resume’s qualifications profile. Even if you’re not actively engaged in a search, consider these questions: Does it demonstrate the value I bring to a prospective employer (even my current one?)? Is my unique “value proposition” succinctly and clearly shown? Are those distinctive qualities and attributes I possess precisely delineated? Would “I be interested” in talking to me after a 10-second read of the qualifications profile?
2. Make a mid-year resolution to learn a new skill - or use one you have already acquired, but allowed to get “rusty.” For instance, still plagued by fear-of-PowerPoint? Then investigate an adult ed class in your community (likely to start right after Labor Day) or register for a similar class through an online or community college. Already taken a program in Excel, but never put it to use? Make a commitment to spend an hour or two one evening a week practicing and really learning to use it. And pick something useful to do with it (i.e., put your household budget [or a section of it - college planning, investments, etc.] on Excel … create a table with names/contact info for key colleagues, and so forth).
3. Decide to read one “recommended” build-your-career/management style book before the end of summer. At virtually all levels of management within most organizations, it has become nearly impossible to avoid the importance of understanding brand and how it relates to personal success and business success. Consider throwing a copy of Scott Bedbury’s A New Brand World: 8 Principles for Achieving Brand Leadership in the 21st Century in your carryon or beach bag. Bedbury was instrumental to the meteoric rise of both Starbucks and Nike. Maybe Winning (Jack Welch, Suzy Welch) will provide the motivational zing as GE’s former chief espouses the notions of “lead, don’t manage.” If you’re a fan of the habits of Stephen Covey, definitely read The 8th Habit: From Effectiveness to Greatness. It’s almost a personal blueprint for branding-with-meaning.
4. Rejuvenate your business and casual-biz wardrobe with summer sales, especially if you have a few extra days off from work over the summer. And if you are in aggressive search mode, consider revamping your personal image and wardrobe.
5. Whether job searching or not, build your ideal position wishlist — listing every must-have and want-to-have for future consideration when negotiating comp packages. Be liberal. Dream large.
6. Reconnect — with those in your networking groups, those in your circles of influence, and, especially, those whom you truly care about.
Summer’s the perfect time to adopt a slightly different lens through which to look at everything that really matters. The change of perspective (physical or attitude) may be just the thing you (and your career) need!
– Jan Melnik, MRW, CCM, CPRW, President, Absolute Advantage