Ask Annie

Don't let summer slow down your job hunt

June 23, 2011: 12:55 PM ET

Job seekers often fall victim to the misconception that companies don't hire during the dog days. There are several reasons to turn up the heat on your job search.

By Anne Fisher, contributor

FORTUNE -- Dear Annie: Please settle an argument. A close friend of mine who has been job hunting for the past six months or so is talking about taking July and August "off," on the theory that employers don't hire anyone in the summer anyway. I got my job in mid-August last year, so I know firsthand this isn't always true, but was I just an exception, or is summer generally a good time to keep job hunting? We have a lobster dinner riding on your answer. — Cape Cod

Dear C.C.: "The idea that companies cut back on hiring in the summer is a myth," says Patty Coffey, a partner at staffing firm Winter Wyman. "In fact, most employers fill job openings at the same pace, or even an increased pace, during the hottest months of the year."

The trickiest part of a summer job hunt is, as you might imagine, scheduling interviews around people's vacations. "An interview process that would normally take three weeks may stretch out to five weeks or even longer," Coffey notes. "So candidates may have to be a little more patient than usual."

Even so, Coffey says that there are seven reasons you should persevere:

1. Interviewers are less pressed for time. "It's a slow season in many industries. Accounting firms, for example, are busiest in the winter and early spring, so summer is a great time for them to build and train their staff," Coffey says.

2. The jobs are there. Since her specialty is IT recruiting, Coffey is keenly aware of the number of jobs currently going unfilled due to a scarcity of skilled candidates, particularly in the East and the Midwest. A recent Dice.com poll of 900 managers who hire techies says that 65% hope to add staff in the second half of 2011 --that is, starting in July.

But even non-IT candidates enjoy one distinct advantage during the summer: "You face less competition if other job seekers are buying into the summer-slowdown myth."

3. Contract-to-hire positions are more abundant during summer. "Many organizations bring in contract employees to fill in for people on vacation, or for people who have timed longer leaves of absence like sabbaticals to coincide with summer," Coffey says. "These temporary positions could turn into permanent jobs."

4. There are more opportunities for in-person networking. "Summer is a social season," notes Coffey. "So take advantage of occasions like golf outings and neighborhood get-togethers to expand your professional network."

5. Interviews may be sped up. "While summer vacation schedules can prolong the interview process, they can also expedite it," Coffey says. "Hiring managers may decide to pack a whole series of interviews into as little as one day, to avoid the complexity of scheduling multiple meetings."

6. Summer may make a transition easier. Since the pace of work may be somewhat less hectic, job candidates may find they have a better chance of getting acquainted with prospective colleagues and bosses. "It can also be less traumatic for families if a move is involved," Coffey notes, "since children wouldn't have to switch schools mid-year."

7. You can sneak away from the office more easily. For people who already have jobs and are seeking new ones, summer is ideal, Coffey notes: "With more lax schedules in July and August, including shortened workdays on Fridays and unofficial long weekends, it's easier to slip away unnoticed. In fact, August is a good time to take a 'job search vacation,' where you use some vacation days to conduct a week-long blitz of intense searching and interviewing."

Given all that, it seems you win this bet -- but, in light of your friend's unemployed status, why not spring for the lobsters anyway?

Talkback: Do you agree that summer can be an especially advantageous time to find a new job? Leave a comment below.

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About This Author
Anne Fisher
Anne Fisher
Contributor, Fortune

Anne Fisher has been writing "Ask Annie," a column on careers, for Fortune since 1996, helping readers navigate booms, recessions, changing industries, and changing ideas about what's appropriate in the workplace (and beyond). Anne is the author of two books, Wall Street Women (Knopf, 1990) and If My Career's on the Fast Track, Where Do I Get a Road Map? (William Morrow, 2001).

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