Centred Content

Dear Joanna

The summer season as begun in Toronto. I have been looking really hard and long for a position as a receptionist and it seems like all the employers are taking vacations this time of the year! I am participating in Reena’s Channels Community Participation program and the job coach recommends that I take a “breather” – but still focus on my job search and balance this with resting, relaxing, having fun and even learning a new skill! Do you have any suggestions as to how I can enjoy the summer holiday season and continue my job search?

Relaxing & Resting

Centred Content

Dear R&R,

This summer season can be challenging for both job seekers and employees alike and can be filled with anxiety and stress. You are not alone in having a hard time relaxing and enjoying during this break when most companies are closed and employees are on vacation.

You can consider taking a break from your job search. However,  I have heard from people looking for work that this is actually the best time for your job search.  Since many employees are in a “summer fun vacation mood”,  this could be an opportunity for you to set up informational interviews, apply for jobs and network. I’ve also learned that recruiters or hiring managers could be more open to helping you with your job search as they are less busy.

Career advice expert journalist Leah Eichler in the “Globe & Mail” (Report on Business, 2013) recommends taking a break is critical for your health, well-being and work-life balance.

Below are some tips sourced from Eichler and from conversations with select employers that could help you have a stress-free, and much-deserved holiday.

  1. Give warning. If you are looking for work, and are taking a much-deserved break, set an “out of office” setting in your Gmail or other service provider account. Change your voicemail and email to let people know that you are away from your desk at this time.  If you doing this from your cell or home phone,  I wouldn’t be specific about the dates of your holiday.  I would have a professional voicemail indicating when you will be returning all messages. Mention that you “have limited access to emails and internet”. I would make an exception if you are expecting an important follow-up phone call or email from a potential employer or a person from your networking.
  2. Prioritize projects. If there is a job opening with a deadline date during your holiday, then I would apply for it. Focus on urgent deadlines first. But if it’s not due until two weeks after you return, it can wait. This is a priority over a break unless you are on vacation with no access to email or the internet. Mention this in your out-of-office setting.
  3. Make a list. Before you leave for vacation or a break, create a back-to-work to-do list or a back-to-job search to-do list.
  4. Clean up. There’s nothing more depressing than returning from your break or vacation to see a pile of papers on your desk. So leave your area neat and tidy before leaving. Important files should be clearly labelled—and accessible. A clean and organized desk can do wonders to alleviate anxiety.
  5. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Give yourself sufficient time when you return to sort through your emails, messages and other issues that have happened while you were away.

Enjoy your summer vacation or break!


To submit your questions and comments to this column IN CONFIDENCE, please email jsamuels@reena.org

Joanna Samuels, M.Ed., CMF, CTDP, RRP is the Employment Resource Supervisor at Reena with expertise in job development, job coaching, and workshop facilitation with people with disabilities and multi-barriers as well as staff training. Also, Joanna helps employers with building an inclusive workforce, is a published author and columnist, as well as a certified Life Skills Coach, and certified Personality Dimensions Facilitator.