For most of us in or adjacent to education, the back-to-school ramp-up time feels even more like a restart than the calendar new year. With the appearance of backpacks and neatly sharpened pencils in every store, there is a sense of new beginnings and new opportunities. Why not take this as an opportunity for a mid-year, end-of-summer career tune-up?
Some people recommend doing this during the holidays, but honestly, that can be a bad time. The days are short, we’re collectively not eating well, and there are family and end-of-year business stressors to tackle. Pulling career maintenance into the end of summer seems like a much more beneficial time all around.
Here are some ways you can maximize this time of returning to school and fresh starts to make sure your career is on track:
1. Reach out to your network in a more personal way.
During the summer months, people are often more engaged in personal activities: traveling, spending time with kids, or tackling a larger athletic undertaking, for example. Have you chatted with people in your network recently? End-of-summer is a great time to deepen your relationship with your business network in a more personal way rather than always talking business.
2. Take some time for YOU.
As the summer winds down, use that vacation time. Get up early to watch the Tour de France or Wimbledon. Engage with family, friends, and nature. Rent a paddleboard just to see if you like it. As you chat with those in your network in a more personal way, make sure you also have some personal stories to share about YOU and how you take care of yourself.
3. Reflect on your goals and adjust accordingly.
How did things go? Are you ahead of where you thought you would be or behind? Take some to reflect, and then adjust your goals accordingly. To meet your EOY numbers, what do you need to do? If you’re behind, how can you catch up? If you’re way ahead of your goals, perhaps they weren’t robust enough. Chat with your boss to see if they need to be adjusted to something more challenging. If you’re in sales, check your numbers and see where you stand. Do you need to create a new number for your forecast? If in doubt, chat with your boss.
4. Self-reflect on your career both year-to-date and overall.
Don’t wait for that end-of-year performance review – do your own. Are you where you want to be? Doing what you want to do? How could you do things better? How could you be a more involved and supportive team player? Are you on track for where you want your career to go in the future, both short-term and long-term? If this is difficult for you, have coffee with a trusted colleague or two and ask for honest feedback. (Make sure to offer to return the favor!)
5. Update your resume and LinkedIn profile.
When it comes to updating your resume, put a tickler in your calendar to do this MONTHLY. If you’ve been at the same company for five years and then need to update your resume after an RIF (reduction in force), you’ll either draw a blank or only remember the big things, which doesn’t serve you well.
We recommend that everyone have a comprehensive working document that lists everything you’ve done (something like a running Google Doc or spreadsheet). This document isn’t formatted, it just has all the relevant information. Dates, Names, Goals, Performance, Activities, and so on and so forth. Then use that doc to make edits and streamline your resume when you need to share it with someone.
Your LinkedIn profile is also like an ongoing resume. Make sure to keep it current. See our post on updating your information on LinkedIn for more details.
Even if you’re not actively searching for something new, what if you get a call from a recruiter with your dream, career-making job – will you be prepared or caught short-handed? More importantly, what if the recruiter didn’t call because your LI profile is so WEAK?!!
6. For edtech, organize your pipeline strategy for back-to-school.
Start planting the seeds now for a competitive advantage once the school year begins. If you contact a school or district two weeks earlier than others who are still getting their ducks in a row, that’s a big advantage.
What are your favorite ways to tune up your career in the middle of the year?