How many times have warm summer days beckoned you to abandon the office — to call in sick, take a mental health day and high tail it to the park or the beach? This time of year, the temptation to slack at work is real. Those colleagues you see taking extra long lunches to soak up that sun aren’t mirages. And joining them can be very, very tempting.
But (and you knew there was a ‘but’ coming, didn’t you?) summer slacking can be a career killer. If you have your eyes on a promotion, raise or any type of career advancement, the warm months aren’t the ones to lay low — rather, they’re one of the best times to go above and beyond in your role, and show your bosses what you’re really made of.
“It’s okay to enjoy the slower summer months,” says Ishviene Arora, co-founder and COO at Vested, a financial services communications agency. The way to do it is to “work smarter, not harder.” For example, if you work in an industry that slows down during the summer, use that down time to focus on out-of-the-box initiatives that your job may not ordinarily allow time for.
“You have an opportunity to get more visibility when you go the extra mile,” agrees Addie Swartz, CEO of reacHIRE, a company that works with organizations to promote a gender diverse workforce and bring women back to work after a career break. During the summer, more people than usual will be out on vacation or out for long weekends. “If you’re able to help solve a crisis when others are checked out, it can make a difference,” Swartz says.
How to make it happen:
1. Beat your deadlines, and over-communicate
If you’re working on a project with a deadline, get it competed early, Swartz recommends. With people frequently out on vacation during the summer, staying ahead of things can ensure there are no delays in the approvals or review process. Also, when a project is completed, it’s best to over-communicate so that everyone (including those who may be covering for someone who’s out of office) is on the same page. “Sending that last email on a summer Friday letting everyone know where things stand shows commitment and dedication,” she says.
2. Offer to support a colleague or supervisor
“If someone in my company came to me and said, ‘I know you’re going to be away for a week, can I do the following three things for you?’ I would love it,” Swartz says. Helping a colleague is not only a nice thing to do, it can also enable you to get some extra credit for a job well done, and to learn an additional skill. Additionally, this is something that isn’t limited to skilled workers— even if you’re just starting your career, you can offer to help out your managers, or coach one of your company’s interns.
3. Suggest ways to be more productive that also allow you to enjoy the summer
Feeling trapped in the office but have a meeting coming up? Suggest an outdoor huddle or a meeting that takes place on a walk or a run, Swartz says. “A different setting can inspire creativity. You’re leveraging the summer, but also doing something that has a positive impact on company culture and your work experience.” Another option would be to suggest an outdoor potluck lunch with your colleagues or company. “You can be team-building while also capturing the spirit of summertime.”
4.) Don’t wait for projects to come to you
Be proactive, and don’t wait for someone to bring you new projects on a silver tray, explains career expert Gabriel Shaoolian. “Remember it's about working hard, not just getting by. Promotions come to those who earn them,” he says. If your office offers summer Fridays, you can express to your manager that you’re happy to work certain Friday afternoons to help your team or another team complete a task or project. Just make sure you still leave yourself with enough down-time of your own.
5.) Don’t let the basics slide
Finally, during the summer months, it can be tempting to come in late (especially if your boss is out of town), or come in already dressed for the beach. Don’t. “Dressing for the position you want, not the one that you have, is key in advancing,” says Heather Monahan, founder of #BossInHeels and author of Confidence Creator. “You want everyone to see you as ready for that next position, so looking the part and acting it are necessary.” This also means arriving to work early, and showing up for meetings on time and prepared, just as you would any other time of year.
With Kathryn Tuggle
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