5 Smart Career Moves to Make Before Labor Day

Whether you’re looking for a new job, angling for a promotion or just seeking more responsibility in your current role, most people would agree that summer is not the best time to accomplish big career moves.   People are out on vacation, attitudes are relaxed and things move slowly, making it difficult to schedule interviews and get exposure at work.

But after Labor Day, most companies are back to the grindstone and, in many cases, ready to make hiring and talent management decisions. With only a few weeks left until then, why not make hay while the sun shines by positioning yourself and your career for a productive fall? Here are five smart things you can do right now to prepare.


1. Have conversations
I make no secret of the fact that I believe relationship building is the key to career success, and summer is actually one of the best times to identify and cultivate those relationships. People are generally more relaxed, in better moods and – since work demands tend to slow down in the summer – more willing to walk up the street for a cup of coffee with you. Need help identifying whom to talk to? Check out these tips on networking in a targeted way.

2. Complete your LinkedIn profile
I’m always surprised by the number of job candidates I see who have incomplete LinkedIn profiles. These days, it’s inevitable that most hiring managers and recruiters are going to look you up on LinkedIn, and if you’re missing information or have outdated work history listed there, you basically just gave them a reason to keep looking. My advice for optimizing a LinkedIn profile is the same as the advice I give for resumes – write it as though it will be read in 15 seconds or less. And if you’re a SoFi borrower, you can contact us for a customized LinkedIn profile assessment – one of the many career coaching benefits we offer to our members.

3. Take a headshot
While you’re on LinkedIn, check out your picture – does it say “I’m an accomplished professional” or “I’m on a jet ski!”?   Obviously, you should aim for the former, but hiring a photographer to take headshots can be expensive. Why not take advantage of the nice weather, grab a friend with a nice camera (or smartphone) and head outside to take your own photos? A head shot doesn’t need to be in a fancy studio – you just need a nice, well-lit photo of yourself in professional clothing – minus the water sports.

4. Get the experience you need
A big hurdle for job seekers and ladder climbers alike is not having the necessary skills and experience to get the job or get to the next level. If summer is slow around your office, use the extra time to volunteer for projects or take an online class. Your workplace may even pay for certain education or certifications, so start now before things get crazy again. 

5. Make a plan for fall
Autumn may be a relatively productive season for career management goals, but when December rolls around, things slow down again for the holidays. So how are you going to make the best of the three months before then? No matter what your goals are, your best bet is to make a plan and stick to it. As I mentioned before (and I can never stress this enough), I believe the best thing both job seekers and ladder climbers can do is have as many conversations as possible, so a good plan might be to connect with one or two new people per week from Labor Day to Thanksgiving.   With that volume of conversations, you’ll substantially increase your chances of making progress on your career goals before year-end.


Got a burning question about career strategy? Post it here in the comments and I’ll try to answer it in a future blog post.

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