It's the middle of summer! Time to sip lemonade, slather on the SPF and read gossip magazines for hours, right?
Not if you've just graduated from college and you're eager to find a full-time job before the fall. If you're looking for your first job this summer, here are a few ideas to help you snap up job offers while everyone else is slacking:
1. Network al fresco. People often have less on their plates in the summer months and are more willing to take time for a networking lunch, informational interview or some casual bonding with a young job seeker like you. Who could turn down an offer to meet for lunch at a sunny outdoor café or an after-work drink at a pleasantly breezy rooftop bar? Fill your summer schedule with networking meetings with friends, friends-of-friends and friends-of-friends-of-friends, and ask for their assistance with your job hunt.
2. Become an active alum. Your college alumni network is one of your best networking opportunities as a young person. Get involved immediately by attending summer social events and emailing people in your school's alumni database or on Facebook who work in the field you want to pursue. Don't wait until the fall, when next year's seniors will start their alumni outreach.
3. Visit (or revisit) Career Services. College career services offices have great (and usually free) resources -- exclusive job databases, resume critiquing, mock interviewing, networking connections, one-on-one career counseling, etc. The problem is that students often don't take advantage. Your college career service office is absolutely available to you after you've graduated, and you may just find the career counselors have more time on their hands since no students are on campus.
4. Set up free keyword news alerts. Let job leads and company research come directly to your inbox. Sign up for free Google news alerts (http://www.google.com/alerts) for companies, industries, products or events related to the industries that interest you. This means you'll be the very first to know about new products, new management and new job opportunities -- even if you're lying on the beach.
5. Clean up your online image. Employers absolutely check your Facebook and MySpace pages, so be careful what you post (and what your friends post about you). Now is the time to delete any inappropriate photos, comments or tags. And, while it's tempting to post all of those summer party pics, do your best to resist the urge.
6. Start creating a professional online presence. Once you've cleaned up your existing profiles, start creating a professional social networking presence. Set up a profile on LinkedIn.com, the leading online professional network, and start linking to professionals you know -- friends with jobs, family members with jobs, alumni and others. Share your job search interests with the people in your online network so they can introduce you to potential job leads in their online networks.
7. Go to summer school. Remember when summer school was considered punishment? Now it can give you a leg up in your job search. If you feel you need to add some additional skills to your resume, take a class this summer. Look to local colleges, professional associations and online learning programs for course listings. Classes provide great networking opportunities with teachers and fellow students. Plus, recruiters will be impressed that you spent the summer improving your skill set.
8. Bring your brain to the beach. If you can't bear the thought of sitting inside a classroom, then take your learning to go. Instead of reading the latest romance or spy novel, pack your beach bag with a book that will advance your business knowledge, such as the biography of a successful entrepreneur, a negotiation guide or a job hunting manual.
9. Temp your way to a permanent gig. Temping is a great option for recent grads to gain experience and skills -- as well as job offers. Temp jobs are, obviously, temporary, so you'll be gaining experience and new contacts while not making a major lifetime commitment. What's intriguing about temping is that it's like being a summer intern -- you are able to gain on-the-job, in-the-office experience -- but the length of commitment is up to you. And, if you make a strong enough impression, you may receive a full-time job offer after a few months.
10. Persist (politely). Sometimes the job goes to the person who is in the right place at the right time. Stay on people's radar screens in the summer by regularly reminding them of your interest and your fabulousness. Some ideas for keeping on a recruiter or networking contact's radar screen: drop a note when you see the company mentioned in a news article (an added bonus of those news alerts!) or ask if there is any freelance work you can take on over the summer while people are on vacation. Warning: I said persist, not pester!
Bottom line: Summer tends to fly by faster than any other season, so make plans now to take full advantage of all the job search opportunities of this unique time of year.