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Barbeques, sun tans, and personal branding?

In the last three months, more people have quit their jobs than been laid off, according to a recent AP article. Is this a sign of better economic times or an exhausted workforce that in light of recent layoffs have endured more stressful environments? Could it be that companies are actually hiring again or maybe is it just the lure of the amazing Chicago weather? Many employees are quitting their jobs without lining up another position. Is their tenacity to be applauded? Firms may frown upon this as it is common to fret over gaps on a resume. It may be misconstrued that these candidates aren’t loyal and will quit when things get a little stressful. A prospective employer may even wonder if a sudden departure was due to a performance issues and that the candidate left before getting fired. Actions can be misinterpreted so finding another position first is superlative.

With amazing temperatures and so much to do during the summer in Chicago, who wants to sit inside combing the internet for networking and employment opportunities? Thanks to the smart phones and the expanding App repertoire, it is now possible to career network while getting a sun tan, mowing the lawn, or chilling with a cold one at a Wrigley. As if you needed another excuse to get a Smartphone!

Consider it a career investment and check out a few of these amazing apps that can be accessed from anywhere any time:

* Twitter and Facebook- available for almost every smart phone – in addition to keeping up with social networks, many businesses post jobs and company news via this avenue. Get the leg up on the competition and apply first.
* LinkedIn – Blackberry, iphone and Palm all of have free apps. A business network is just as important as a social one.
* Craigslist- iPhone, blackberry and almost any other smart phone can access Craigslist making it feasible to search new job posts any time!
* Indeed – A free iPhone app that mirrors their website. What is amazing about this app is that in addition to all the jobs on the major job boards (Careerbuilder, Monster, etc) many firms put an RSS feed from their website so they are also searchable- one stop shopping.

If taking the smart phone plunge isn’t in the cards, the old school methods of career networking can be just as effective. Many Chicago firms host parties and happy hours during the summer- why not grab your business cards and a cold one?

A few tried and true tips still work for these events:

* Mints - Who hasn’t gotten stuck talking to “that guy” with the horrendous breath- no one wants to be “that guy”!
* Desperado – As tempting as it is to ask a new introduction for any job prospects, another approach is to take a business card and follow up later with a professional email or call. It is a party after all and no one wants to be put on the spot.
* Money Money Money - Cash is still king- tipping is appropriate even at free parties
* Noted - after the party while memories are fresh it is helpful to take a few minutes and write down notes that will help to establish a rapport later.

It is possible to enjoy all that summer in Chicago has to offer AND grow your personal brand. Make sure to keep track of all contacts, it is so unprofessional when a candidate doesn’t know where they sent their resumes or what jobs they have applied to. Maybe the Smartphone is essential…excel spreadsheet anyone? Maybe after you get done celebrating the Blackhawks!

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