Categorized | Job Hunting

How to taste freedom without poisoning your resume.

Posted on 13 September 2008

After hundreds of hours chained to your desktop, you’re finally free. Some of you may have just graduated college, while others may be dot-com casualties, recently booted into the world of unemployment. And, coincidentally, it just so happens to be summertime.

It sure would be nice to sit around, bask in the noontime sun, get in shape, and meet your working-class friends for lunch–but will all this lackadaisical languor damage your career? How will this look on your resume? What will your friends and family think of your freewheeling, freeloading, vagabond ways? With proper planning and forethought, however, you can take the summer off and still look productive. Call it an independent summer, a summer away from the steady tick of a time clock and the slimy smirk of a snide supervisor.

First Steps
Your first and most important consideration: the almighty greenback. Make sure you have enough money socked away to pay for your basic necessities: rent, food, bills, and fun. If your kitty isn’t quite what you thought, factor some moneymaking schemes into your three-month plan (see below).
You can create your own schedule, work poolside adorned in aloha gear, occasionally consult a cell phone or laptop, and jabber with your friends during every happy hour.
Now, consider the other basic necessity for a guilt-free and fulfilling summer: the proper mindset. Convince yourself that you deserve a break. Remember these useful statements: “My six-month internship was too much pressure” and “I need a break before I move from full-time student to full-time indentured servant” and “It works for the French, so why not me?” Any of these will do, or feel free to create your own.

The Three-Month Plan
There are a whole host of ideas and activities to get you through the summer looking like a champ (albeit a bronzed and chiseled one). Pick an idea from the following menu and sculpt it into your own.

  • Meander through your job hunt. This is a popular way to spend the summer, an independent classic. Allocate a couple of hours each day to job hunt, late mornings or early afternoons. Send up to four resumes each day and, as the summer progresses, accelerate your pace to ten per day. You’re guaranteed to get a few responses. Ideally, you won’t have any serious interviews until the end of August or start of September anyway, because things start to cool down then. If anyone questions your slow response time, just sigh and reply, “It’s a tough market out there.” No one will kick you while you’re down. Meanwhile, as you slowly accelerate your resume output, you’ll be lowering the SPF rating on your suntan lotion to deepen that healthy glow.
  • Freelance and consulting opportunities. This is an excellent choice for those who are a little short in the money category. You can create your own schedule, work poolside adorned in aloha gear, occasionally consult a cell phone or laptop, and jabber with your friends during every happy hour. Reference your work as ‘consulting’ rather than ‘freelancing‘ because the latter tends to sound a bit wishy-washy. Do a few short-term gigs during the summer and you’re technically working. No guilt necessary.
  • Expand your curriculum vitae. Suppose you want to learn French, attend a summer business workshop at Harvard, or sharpen your international relations expertise in Italy. Don’t just take classes at your local University–think much bigger. It’s the “travel and learn” combo that wins accolades from independent summer aficionados everywhere. Specific criteria when selecting an academic program should include: warm weather, simplified syllabi, and most importantly, prestigious name-dropping quotient. Perhaps you could boast, “I perfected my pastry-making talents at the Cordon Bleu in Paris.”
  • Altruism is always a winner. For those folks with a hankering to do good while they take in the sun, consider eco-travel. These trips pair exotic locations with actual volunteer work: building schools, paving streets, archeological digs, or teaching English. No one will criticize you for spending time in this manner. The cost is minimal, often just room and board, and the rewards abound–but such adventures are not for homebodies. You’ll likely travel to parts of the globe where a lavatory is just a hole in the ground and rice is the sole culinary staple (think Survivor).

Making Peace with Your Past
Like we said, with a little planning and forethought, any activity can turn into an exemplary item on your resume. And when you compile your resume this fall, a listless summer may appear chock-full of activities and deeds. Even the most daunting prospective employer will drool over your go-getter, hard-work attitude. If you have any continued pangs of guilt, remember that all this rest and relaxation will better equip you for the next big gig. You’ll be refreshed, recharged, and ready to kick some corporate butt. Really, your future boss will thank you.

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