Back to school and back to the job hunt: Using the September Surge to find a new role

Sep 04, 2023

4 mins

Back to school and back to the job hunt: Using the September Surge to find a new role
Christine Wilson

Christine is a writer based in Toronto, Canada.

There’s something about September and the fall season that feels like the true beginning of a new year. Maybe It’s the sudden burst of cool air that reinvigorates us, the readiness to get back into a routine after the whirlwind of summer, or that feeling from when we were kids of returning to school and starting a new grade.

While you might not be shopping for new binders and pens and boarding the morning bus with your classmates, you can use this fresh-start feeling to boost your job hunt. The final days of summer might motivate you to squeeze in more social time and make connections. Slower work days provide time to reflect on what’s next in your career and how to prepare to make some moves. Additionally, fresh from their holidays, businesses are back to work, rejuvenated and ready to finish the year strong.

September is one of the most popular hiring months, so how can you make the most of this time to find a new job? To learn why the back-to-school period is an ideal time to pursue your job hunt, personal branding specialist and career coach Pamela Weinberg shares her strategies and tips for leveraging this time of year to land your next job.

What are the benefits of aligning your job search efforts with the back-to-school period?

The perks of ramping up your job search in September are both emotional and practical. This time of year naturally feels reenergizing, and as the seasons change, we tend to want to seek change, too. “No matter how old we are, September always feels like the start of a new year. September and January are typically times when people make resolutions to either find a new job or improve upon the one they already have. It tends to be a natural transition time and a good time to find a new job,” Weinberg notes.

Conveniently, the dog days of summer usually encourage people to slow down, which can mean more downtime to revisit and refresh your job search materials. “August tends to be a slower time at the office, with many people taking vacations, so it leaves time to update your resume, your LinkedIn profile, and to start thinking about what’s next,” she points out.

What are common obstacles of job hunting during this time, and how can job seekers overcome them?

That said, businesses might not be as eager and ready to hire as you are to apply. The increase in vacation time in August means it could take a little longer to hear back from places, so patience is required.

“One of the obstacles of job hunting during ‘back-to-school’ time is that hiring managers and HR professionals are likely coming back from their vacations and will take a little time to ramp back up,” Weinberg mentions. However, Weinberg suggests you don’t let that hold you back. “The process will be a bit slower, so if you apply for a role at the end of August/beginning of September, just keep in mind that it may take longer for them to review your application.”

Remember this when following up, too; just because their OOO message says they’ll return to their desk on a certain date doesn’t mean you should jump on following up that day. Allow for some breathing room before you reach out after their holidays.

Practical tips and strategies for refocusing your job search efforts during the back-to-school period

So how can you get the most out of this time of year and use the momentum to support your job hunt efforts? Weinberg says to take advantage of all that summer social time and use it to sneak in some networking. “Summer is an excellent time for networking. Whether it is at a backyard BBQ or your cousin’s wedding—every occasion provides networking opportunities,” she says.

Before attending an event, prepare what you want to say and how you want to sell yourself. “Put together your one-minute elevator pitch, and have some questions ready for those you meet,” Weinberg suggests. If you don’t want to let the connection end there, be sure to get their contact information so you can follow up afterward. “Connect on LinkedIn with those you meet and follow up with them in mid-September to check in and say hello.”

Circling back to the season’s slower pace, Weinberg also points out that since things tend to be a bit slower heading into Labor Day, this is an excellent time to get people on the phone who are in the office. “Use this time to network within your office and connect with other companies or industries that interest you. If you lay the groundwork in August, it can bear fruit in September,” Weinberg states.

Key takeaways: How to use the back-to-school period to relaunch your job search

In the working world, back to school means back to the job hunt. Late summer and early fall are ripe with opportunities to network and prepare to land your ideal role. Here are the main things to note as you relaunch your search.

Set new goals with the season. Channel the younger version of you who would resolve to get better grades or try out for a sports team in the new school year by getting clear on your career goals and what you hope to accomplish during this transition time. Use these goals to guide your job hunt efforts and get intentional about the change you want to create.

Have your elevator pitch ready for social events. Every summer get-together provides a chance to expand your network. Strike up a conversation with the people you meet. Inevitably, one of the first questions people usually ask is what you do for work—use this to casually mention you’re seeking a new opportunity and sell yourself; you never know who could have a connection to what you’re looking for.

Lay the groundwork in August, and apply in September. Leverage social opportunities in August to network and your downtime to prepare your resume and update your LinkedIn. Weinberg recommends waiting until the week after Labor Day to apply or reach out so that people have time to settle back in after summer vacation. Be patient, and remember, this is also the time for you to have some fun and get excited for what’s to come.

Photo: Welcome to the Jungle

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