4 Ways to Advance Your Career This Summer

by Salary.com Staff - Original publish date: June 9, 2014

Get a Tan & a Raise

If the winter of 2013-2014 felt like one of the worst on record in your town, it probably was. The amount of snow in Chicago and New York City was in the top 10 all time, while Minneapolis had 50 days with temperatures below zero (and not surprising, reported 225 cases of frostbite). And even if you tried to escape it, the number of canceled flights was the worst in two decades.

In other words, bring on summer!

However, just because you can finally exchange your snowsuit for your swimsuit, it doesn’t mean you should ignore your career for the next few months.

Here are some tips to maintain your good standing at work while maintaining your tan.

4. Learn Something New

If the pace of your work slows down a bit in the summer, it’s the perfect opportunity to learn a new skill on the side. These could fall into a few different categories.

  • Higher learning. Maybe you’ve watched as co-workers with an MBA or other advanced degree leap-frogged over you for that promotion – and higher salary. This could be a good time to get back to school and expand that education, whether it’s an additional degree or a required certification for your industry.
  • Updated skills. Have you been working so hard that you haven’t had time to keep up with the latest technology? Now’s the time to take that class in blogging, Twitter, Photoshop, web analytics, or digital video editing.
  • Side hustles. Is there a passion project you’ve been meaning to get to? Go ahead and start that food or travel blog, take an improv class, or buy a block of yoga classes. The benefits could include doing something fun and enjoyable, better performance at your current job, or the first step toward making a little money on the side.

3. Take a Step Back

Have you been so focused on your day-to-day job that you haven’t looked up from your desk in 6 months? Plan a long weekend away to really take stock of where you are in your career. Ask yourself some honest questions:

  • How has your job changed in the past year?
  • When was the last time you got a raise or promotion?
  • Is your career advancing the way you want it to?
  • And simply, do you like doing what you’re doing?

Much like you should bring your car to the garage for a 30,000 mile check-up before going on that multi-state road trip in the peak of summer, every professional should step back and make sure they’re on the right road to success.

2. Prepare for the Next Step

If you decide that it might be worth exploring new opportunities, use the summer to test the waters.

  • Use the Salary.com Salary Wizard to find out how much your skills are worth on the market
  • Update your resume so that it’s remains current in case something interesting pops up
  • Create a web presence and gather some materials to develop a portfolio of your best work
  • When heading to the beach, skip the books about “Lean Diet” and instead pick up “Lean In” to learn negotiation skills
  • Use happy hours, summer barbecues and weddings as informal networking to learn more about new opportunities
  • Use a summer Friday to go on an interview, just to see what’s out there

Even if things are slow or you find that you’re still pretty happy in your current job, things can change fast – you’ll be the one that’s prepared in the fall if the economy takes a turn or an amazing opportunity arises.

1. Get Out of Town

While it might be tempting to stay in the office while everyone else is on vacation in order to look like the hardest worker and get more done, resist the temptation.

If most of the office grinds to a halt during a certain time and everyone with two nickels to rub together heads to the beach, make sure you’re not the only one left behind. Why? A new study from staffing agency Robert Half says 39% of American workers won’t use all their vacation time. If you’ve worked hard to negotiate your pay, your title, and your benefits, why leave any perks on the table?Working too hard and NOT taking a vacation can lead to career burnout and elevated levels of stress on the job. Even the best employee can’t operate at peak performance at all times, so take time off to recharge your batteries, and come back from the break even more productive.

Trust me, all those items in your inbox will still be there when you get back, and before you know it, you’ll once again be cursing reports of 8-12” of snow and a wind chill factor in the teens.

Get a Summer Raise

Just because we're heading into the slower months doesn't mean it's necessarily a bad time to ask for a raise. And Salary.com can help you get paid fairly what you do.

The first thing you should do is research, so you're able to come to the table armed with the knowledge of what your job is worth. Use our free Salary Wizard below to find out what's a fair salary for your position. You can enter your location, education level, years of experience and more to find out an appropriate salary range before you negotiate.

Good luck.