Dear Sam: I graduated college in the middle of May, but still haven’t found a job. I’m starting to get concerned because some of my close friends from my program have already accepted positions. Have I missed my chance to get into a good company, or do companies still continue hiring throughout the summer? – Eric
Dear Eric: Congratulations on your graduation! While it’s true that summer isn’t the peak hiring season for most companies (typically January and February are the most popular months for hiring in most industries), there are actually some benefits to job hunting during the summer:
Less Candidates Competing for Jobs
Since there do tend to be less people applying for jobs over the summer, you have a better chance of standing out as a strong candidate. Make sure you differentiate yourself from other recent graduates by highlighting your key achievements from your academic career, in any internships or jobs you held while in college, and in any extracurricular activities that you were involved in, and by targeting your documents to the jobs that you are applying for. If you haven’t already, set up a LinkedIn profile as well so that your accomplishments are also presented digitally.
Additional Networking Opportunities
Treat every summer gathering you attend as a chance to network. The vast majority of jobs—upwards of 85% according to recent surveys—are secured through networking (i.e. the candidates had a direct referral/inside contact), so take advantage of social events and share your elevator pitch as often as possible. Many organizations and associations (such as the Columbus Young Professionals Club here in central Ohio) even offer summer sports leagues and other community events for fun/casual networking opportunities. Research has shown that around 80% of jobs are never even posted online, so you never know who will know somebody who is hiring! Join alumni groups as well (through LinkedIn or in person) to establish connections with other graduates from your alma mater.
Shorter or More Relaxed Interview Processes
With many hiring managers and staff members leaving for summer vacations, scheduling interviews (especially multiple rounds of interviews) can be challenging for companies. Instead, many hiring managers will try to expedite the process to avoid having to coordinate multiple meetings. This can be a positive situation for candidates, because it could lead to less extensive vetting processes and quicker job offers. With lighter workloads for many staff members as well, there is a chance that the environment will be more relaxed, possibly leading to more casual interviews.
Availability of Entry-Level Roles
Many companies take the end of the school year/graduation into consideration when hiring for entry-level positions, so there can be many openings for trainee or beginner roles during the summer. Customer service and sales roles in particular are great ways to get your foot in the door of large companies, and many offer career tracks with the possibility of rapid promotions. Even if this type of position isn’t your dream position, they can be great resume-builders and can lead to long-term career possibilities.
Peak hiring season or not, present yourself in the best possible light (on paper and online), network as often as possible (in person and online), and attack your job search head-on. With your college degree completed, it is time to move on to the next chapter in your professional life. Congratulations again on your accomplishment, and best of luck in your search!