Sarina Finkelstein (photo illustration)—Getty Images (4)
By Caroline Ceniza-Levine
September 8, 2015

Recruiting picks up in the fall. Employers are back from vacation mode. They see their end-of-year targets and if they are behind, they have to hire now to hit goal. They have three quarters’ worth of budget data, and if there is salary money still to be allocated, they have to hire now or possibly lose the headcount in the next year. So there are multiple reasons why the fall is a great time to prioritize your job search activity if you’ve slacked off or gotten discouraged during the summer. Here are 4 tips to jump start your job search for the fall season:

Savor the summer

Yes, as people come back to the busy fall they pine for their summer. Use the after-summer glow to engender good feelings:

  • Infuse your networking with questions about their summer activity.
  • Circle back to people by sharing your own vacation news.
  • If you know any working parents, send a back-to-school tips article so they know you’re thinking of their needs specifically.
  • If there are people you tried to meet but vacations got in the way, ask again now.
  • If there are specific company discussions you want to pick up again, mention the push to hit year-end goals and to finalize year-end headcount as an excuse to restart discussions now.

Use the change of season as a reason to get in touch and a topic to talk about.

Sync up your schedules

School is back in session, so working parents will have two calendars to juggle – academic and professional. Member groups that take the summer off from activities now resume meetings and events. Community service, board work, and other outside activities that slow or stop over summer get back to normal. As your job search picks up so do all of your other commitments, and this makes scheduling more complex:

  • Put school, family, and other non-work activities on your work schedule now to avoid double-booking.
  • Block out space for work projects (you may also be pushing towards year-end goals) that you know are imminent.
  • Now look at what you leave open space for job search activities like research, refining your resume, networking, and interviews. If you don’t see a minimum of five hours (and ideally at least ten) for your job search, you need to make cuts elsewhere.

A job search takes time and energy. If you overbook now, it won’t get done. You will not magically find the time.

Schedule backwards from Thanksgiving

Sure, hiring takes place year-round, but it has its own timetable that ebbs and flows. Summer is slower because of vacations. The winter holiday season, starting with Thanksgiving, also slows down hiring. Therefore, if you want to be in a new job by next year, you want to time your search to be done or at least in late stages by Thanksgiving:

  • What companies would you like to be meeting with by Thanksgiving?
  • Who do you know there or who do you know who can introduce you? How and when will you reach out to these people? Networking takes place over time. Reserve several weeks, if not months for this.
  • Do you have an updated resume and LinkedIn profile to share? If not, block time to do this before you network. This means October at the latest.
  • Do you even know what companies are of interest so you can find the relevant people and target your resume appropriately? If not, block out time to read about different companies and industries, to do some introspection about your interests and priorities, and to experiment with classes, meetups, or volunteer work – something hands-on that will give you insight into what you enjoy. If you are still in the what-do-I-want stage, you need to get clarity before you network and before you spend time on a resume and LinkedIn profile that might not be related to your ultimate target. Block out time now – this means September.

People do get hired over the holidays but these candidates are likely already in play. If you want to be already in play by Thanksgiving, this means a September start.

Start now

If you have a clear sense of your target companies, you can jump to refining your marketing materials or straight to networking, if you have materials in place, don’t feel like you can put off your networking activity for later – take advantage of the extra time. You have more time to build genuine relationships. You can reach out to more people. You can experiment with different types of networking – social media, Meetups, focusing on immediate friends and family, cold calling heads of the departments where you want to work. Even if you don’t have a clear sense of what you want next, you still have time to launch a thoughtful and comprehensive job search before year-end, if you start right now.

Read next: 4 Hobbies That Could Get You a Job

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