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With much of the working world taking off on vacation, summer is a great time for keeners, career advisers say.

This will not come as welcome news to those of us who hope to enjoy a more relaxed pace for the next couple of months. However, for those interested in advancing at work or changing jobs, it is a good time to make a move.

The day is gone when employers put off hiring and promotion decisions until September, says career coach Neil Rankin, founder of Toronto-based

With the national unemployment rate at a 32-year low, as reported by Statistics Canada yesterday, the on-line job boards are posting hundreds of new positions every day, Mr. Rankin says.

"The people I work with are all going for interviews. It's not as if July and August are here and everybody is rolling up the sidewalks."

Vancouver-based career coach, Ian Christie, founder and president of Bold Career, says "summer does not have to be a wasteland of activity for your career and professional goals."

"Holidays can be a time to shine when you pick up the slack from absent co-workers and a time to move the ball forward on some of those important goals," he writes in an advisory to clients.

It is also prime time to start preparing for a job change.

"You can also make progress on . . . expanding your network. Yes, lots of people will be away, but there is still an opportunity to make progress," Mr. Christie says.

"Too often, I have seen clients start their process in September, but miss half of the autumn season because getting market ready takes some time."

For those left behind in the office while colleagues are lounging around the pool, summer offers the opportunity to take on new roles, Mr. Rankin says.

"When a supervisor sees someone going the extra mile to acquire new information and be more helpful to the company, that can only be helpful down the road," he says.

New York-based career coaching firm, The Five O'Clock Club, has found that an increasing numbers of professionals -- worried about falling behind -- are compromising by taking "tethered vacations" that involve some contact with the office while they are away.

"Vacations are critical but tricky," says Richard Bayer, chief operating officer of The Five O'Clock Club. "The pace of business requires intense investments of time, attention, skills and emotion. But humans needs to decompress and recharge our batteries to continuously meet the demands of the workplace."

But, in highly competitive workplaces, "too much vacation has a downside," he cautions.

"When you're away from the office, you can't defend yourself against colleagues who want to undermine your position on a new initiative or steal the credit for a lucrative deal you put together," Mr. Bayer says.

While the vast majority of Canadian employers accommodate employee requests for two or more weeks of summer vacation, they also accommodate those who prefer regular "mini-vacations" instead of long stretches away from the office, Toronto-based Hewitt Associates found in a survey of 157 Canadian employers.

More than 90 per cent now grant employee requests to take their vacations a day or two at a time, adding them to summer weekends "to make multiple long weekends," Hewitt found.

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