Wall Street shuts down during August, with traders and investment bankers seizing the opportunity for a rare vacation, and the financial district of New York is a ghost town.
Now’s the time to ask whether the time is right to look for a new job, or perhaps take the opportunity to set yourself up for a promotion. Here are some tips to make the most of the summer lull.
Go back to basics
A slowing down of business allows more time for working on your resume, updating your social-media profiles to add keywords connected to the skills required for a new job or fitting in an online course, says Janet Raiffa, an investment banking career coach, the former head of campus recruiting at Goldman Sachs and a former associate director in the Career Management Center at Columbia Business School.
“A summer ‘staycation’ could include some networking with classmates and former colleagues or in-office informational interviews,” she says. “A summer share with peers in the industry can also be an opportunity to network that would be more difficult in another season.”
Emmeline Kuhn, a principal in the global technology and operations practice at Korn Ferry, a recruitment firm, agrees.
“The summer is a wonderful time to schedule lunches and informationals,” Kuhn says. “Many business leaders have slower days during the summer months, making lunch and coffee possible. It is a great time to reach out to your broader network for catchups,” she says.
Score points with your boss
The best way to get brownie points in front-office investment banking is to be as actively engaged as possible, regardless of the season or how much work is on your plate, according to Sarah Harte, executive director of global markets at Sheffield Haworth, a financial services recruitment firm.
“You need to be actively contributing to revenue, team work, extra project work, firm sporting teams and in general being a positive representative for the bank you are at,” Harte says.
Ask HR about the rules of the game
You can’t win a game if you don’t know the rules, so don’t be shy about asking your boss or HR what it takes to earn a promotion.
“There are very clear rules around promotions these days, almost to the point of being scientific, and sometimes no matter how much you do, you may not be awarded a promotion when you think you deserve one,” Harte says.
“This is especially true for MDs and directors where there is a restricted number given out each year,” she says. “If you are aiming for a promotion and are concerned about this, then you should seek out advice from your HR rep to find out exactly what the process is in order to be promoted and see how they are tracking.”
Sharpen your tech skills
Hiring managers want to hire those who keep abreast of new ideas and concepts and are passionate about technology and digital media, Kuhn says.
“They are interested in [hiring] IT leaders that are thinking like business leaders, focused on how to move the dial forward for the overall enterprise,” she says. “This includes knowledge across the digital landscape – often including an emphasis on data and analytics – as well as leadership skills to encourage business heads to move in an innovative direction.”
Step up your networking game
Summer is a great time to network, whether you’re attending a conference, a meeting of an industry organization or happy hour at a local watering hole or private club. However, no matter how many networking occasions you’ve been to, don’t just saunter in without a game plan, fly by the seat of your pants and down a bunch of drinks.
“Find out from a schoolmate or former colleague where the firms will be going, and go there,” Raiffa says.
Events for interns will feature mid- and senior-level bankers, and maybe a peer at that institution could arrange an informal meeting while you are both at the same venue.
Monitor who’s leaving banks for business school
If you’re at the analyst or associate level, you’ll see professionals leaving banks at different times during the summer to prepare for or start business school. This will create some holes at their firms.
“Check LinkedIn for updates on people heading off to MBA programs and see if they are aware of openings created by their departure or those of their colleagues,” Raiffa says.
Foster relationships with recruiters
Before you meet a hiring manager, the chances are you will be contacting a recruiter.
“If banks are slow and there’s not much hiring going on while summer interns are in residence, headhunters will also be slow,” Raiffa says. “Summer is a good time to reach out to headhunters to arrange first meetings and figure out what types of hiring they anticipate in the fall.”
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