How to Get Promoted This Summer

A raise during "slack-off" season? Sign us up!
by Rebecca Milzoff



In the summer, women leave work early 50 percent more often than men. C'mon, ladies!In the summer, women leave work early 50 percent more often than men. C'mon, ladies!Meryl Poster is still scarred by the sunny summer day she wore a trendy miniskirt to work. The cute outfit wasn't exactly inappropriate for her creative job as Miramax's vice president of production, but, she recalls, it still felt like "a weird one-off " in contrast to her generally more buttoned-up style. And sure enough, she had to fly unexpectedly to Montreal for a major meeting. "I felt foolish and unprofessional," says Poster, now an executive at the Weinstein Company. "The one day I took a laid-back approach to dressing, this happened."

Turns out summer affects all kinds of choices people make about work, from what they wear to the time they clock out--and usually not for the better. In fact, office productivity drops 20 percent this time of year, according to a recent Captivate survey. But here's a counterintuitive suggestion from work experts: Approach the next three months right, and they can actually be your chance to get ahead. You might even land a raise by Labor Day. Here's how to sidestep the slump and get on it:

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Don't flake out.
First things first: Do take a vacation; vacations are good. But when you are at your desk, stay focused. The Captivate survey found that workers are 45 percent more distracted in the warmer months. The worst offenders? Women under 34! "So many millennials are making plans, shopping on Gilt, and sneaking out early," sighs Jeanne Meister, founding partner of Future Workplace, an executive development firm in New York City. "In today's open offices, it's so obvious." And cover for your boss when she'sout if you can. It puts a virtual halo over your head.

Check the office calendar.
Here's a sneaky little workplace truth: If your company's fiscal year ends in June or July (many do), summer's a good time to ask for a raise, since bosses who have money left in their budgets often give out promotions or spot bonuses, says Carolyn Thompson, human resources solutions director at accounting firm Dixon Hughes Goodman in Washington, D.C. So request a meeting to review your achievements during the previous six months, outline your goals, and ask for a salary bump. Even if your fiscal year doesn't end until December, summer is still a good time to solicit feedback; with others away on vacation, you'll have your boss's undivided attention.

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Mine the down days.
The workload for some jobs (not all--sorry, lifeguards!) is naturally lighter in summer, so use the time to google the heck out of the issues in your field. Women often "see their industries from street level," says Karen Finerman, president of hedge fund Metropolitan Capital Advisors in NYC. "You need a satellite shot to get a deeper understanding." Relay your observations to your boss, she says, and you'll "show off how valuable you are."

Do something new.
Here's the best part of your summer assignment: Go to a museum, reading, or concert. "Take your mind somewhere interesting," says M T Carney, a former Disney marketing executive who now heads her own agency. "Then apply it back to work. A lot of great ideas came from outside the category they were ultimately applied in." Frisbees, for example, were born when Frisbie Pie Company execs learned that college kids were tossing around their empty pie tins. Bottom line, says Meister: "Summer's a great time to stand out because everyone else's head is at the beach." Get yours in the game--write us in September from that nice new corner office, why don't you?

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