Summer’s Coming — Better Step Up Your Job Hunt Now
An email correspondent from way outside the Beltway writes in, asking if he should put his hopes of finding a D.C. area job on hold for a while, until the summer vacation season ends and hiring managers are again focused on filling jobs.
While it’s true that many D.C. folks try to get out of town for at least a week (and for plenty of long weekends) over the summer, my advice — based on my own experience and checking in with some D.C. area recruiters and managers — is that June through mid-July is still a pretty good time to job hunt here, as managers try to fill openings before the late-July/August slowdown. Here are some tips for summer hunting in the D.C. area:
*Expect plenty of stops and starts in the hiring process. With many organizations staggering managers’ vacation schedules, you may be asked to come back several times to meet with different managers. There may be even longer lags than usual between initial interviews and later ones, or between a final interview and an offer, as the hiring manager has to work around vacations and other summer distractions for approval of an offer. Don’t take it as a personal slight and don’t presume that your candidacy is off the table if you don’t hear back right away, especially the closer it gets to the August exodus from D.C.
*Politely but directly ask whether a posted position will be filled right away or whether it may be delayed. As always, at the end of an interview ask when you may expect to hear back — and then ask if that might be delayed by vacation schedules. This gives the hiring manager an opportunity to be honest with you about possible delays, and at least you have a better idea of what to expect.
*Keep at it while others fall out of the job market. Just as at Christmastime, if you “zig” while others “zag” you may score points with a hiring manager. While other job hunters head to the beach, figuring no one will be around to conduct interviews anyway, if you’re in town and available, you may slide right in. Hiring managers sometimes have extra time before long holiday weekends or when things are slower in Washington, and they may welcome the opportunity to conduct interviews or read through job hunters’ materials then. If you can come in for an interview right away, your candidacy may benefit — the hiring manager likely will be impressed by your availability and diligence. Summer slowdowns can be an especially good time to schedule informational interviews, as recruiters are not as busy then.
*Consider the types of organizations you’re targeting in your search. Many organizations connected to Congress — as well as the House and Senate, of course — shut down or significantly slow down for a good portion of August so your search probably wouldn’t advance there much late in the summer. Yet many businesses and media outlets in D.C. still are open (and most media still publish regularly!) throughout the summer, so they would still be likely to at least review your resume and other materials. Do some research to see whether the organizations you’re interested in are worth pursuing as the summer goes on.
*Don’t take too long of a break. Even if interviewing and hiring slows down in D.C. in the summer, you shouldn’t give up. It’s a good time to focus on gaining experience through free-lance or contract work (which is available year-round) and to take some courses and brush up on your skills. If you go on hiatus too long, it may be harder to jump back into a job hunt when hiring heats up again. So give yourself a summer break, but time it carefully.