Back-to-school time often signifies a wonderful period when parents are relieved to see their children leave home and go off to the care and instruction of schoolteachers and administrators. Social media timelines are flooded with kids’ photos and commentary from parents who are ecstatic to shed their “activity director” summer jobs. But just as kids are venturing into new territory of the next grade, parents should think of this time as one to shift focus back to career management. Three things make this the perfect time to propel your personal career goals. And yes, timing matters.
1. The end of the summer means the beginning of budget season for many businesses. For most companies, the fiscal year starts with the calendar year, in January. That means, by September, companies are considering what expenses they need to cut to make financial targets by year-end. It is very common for lay-offs to be planned during this time and often, companies will notify those selected for lay-off before Thanksgiving. Getting a jumpstart on networking is never a bad idea during this time. If you have the misfortune of being notified of lay-off before year-end, you will be well-served to have started proactively networking and thinking about your next career move. And even if you’re not laid off, it never hurts to put some feelers out, check out your options and get to know some people in your field.
2. Performance review season is coming up. As the fiscal year ends, you will likely be asked to initiate your performance appraisal by doing a self-assessment. Agony! I know. But what a great time to reflect on your contributions ahead of the year-end crunch. You can start now, thinking through where you stand in relation to meeting your performance goals, seeking feedback so you know how your manager thinks you’ve done so far, and making necessary changes ahead of final review time. That’s good intel to have as you consider what you need to do to manage your career for the short-term.
3. It’s party time! If there’s one time of the year you can expect to be pushed to socialize, it’s around the holidays. Instead of approaching these events as solely informal parties or, on the opposite end, strictly networking events, think of them as opportunities to let people get to know you. After all, when people like you, they tend to want to help you. And even if you don’t need help right now, you can build relationships that might come in handy if you ever need help. Be sure to prepare your “elevator pitch” as you get ready to party this holiday season. Prepare to state one major accomplishment in your current role, the type of position you might want next and a bit about how your skills can translate to that target role. This pitch shouldn’t take longer than one minute to communicate. No biggie. Just do a little work to prepare in case it comes up in casual conversation. It’s “networking-light,” and you can do it right before you get on the dance floor.
Make this back-to-school season work for you too. A little bit of thought and preparation can go a long way. This is your career management homework, so get started. Let’s work better.