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How to Get the Best Present of All:
Job-Hunting Tips for the Holidays
by Randall S. Hansen, Ph.D.
As cooler weather arrives and stores fill aisles with holiday items, it's easy to get distracted -- even discouraged -- about the holidays and your job-search. Many job-seekers believe if they are in the middle of a job-search and Thanksgiving is on the horizon, that they might as well give up finding a job until the new year.
Thinking that job-hunting, networking, and hiring stop because of the holidays is perhaps one of the biggest misconceptions of job-seekers -- and that could be good news for you since you're reading this article. The simple truth is that while the holidays do cause business to slow, employers are still interviewing and still hiring -- and deep into planning for the following year. Plus, because many job-seekers suspend their job-hunting activities during the holidays, there is simply less competition for open positions.
Use the how-to advice in this article to revisit, revamp, and reinvigorate your job-search during the holidays -- and by doing so lay the groundwork for giving yourself the best present of all... a new job.
How to Job-Hunting During the HolidaysThe first step involves a change in your mindset -- both about job-hunting and about the holidays. You'll need to believe -- really believe -- that you can have job-search success during the holidays. You'll also need to fight -- and completely shake off -- the holiday blues. A positive attitude and energy will not only provide you with more confidence, but will also radiate to employers -- and give you an edge. Furthermore, make an action plan for the twenty or so business days between Thanksgiving and New Year's -- with a goal of accomplishing at least one job-search activity each day.
The second step is about reviewing your job-search materials and strategies. If you have been job-hunting and not receiving any (or few) interviews, it is time to revisit your resume. (Consider free and paid services for critiquing your resume, as well as our job-seeker resume tools and resources). If you are obtaining interviews, but not receiving any offers, it is time to review your interviewing strategies. (Consider asking for feedback, conducting a mock interview, and using our job interviewing resources).
The third step focuses on taking advantage of the holidays for pushing your networking activities into a higher gear. Besides your usual networking activities (which should be the main focus of your job-hunting strategy), consider sending holiday greeting cards to former co-workers, bosses, clients, vendors, and the like that include a networking or resume-highlights card; attend business, professional, and social holiday gatherings prepared with your short elevator speech and a plan to uncover any job leads and add more people to your network (but remember not to dwell on any job woes); conduct informational interviews with people -- even the busiest folks (hiring managers and recruiters) are less likely to be traveling or stuck in meetings (plus most people will also be happier with the holiday spirit). Remember to follow up with all these folks after the holidays too.
The fourth step involves monitoring key employer career centers and niche and professional job boards. Even in December, new job opportunities will be posted by employers, so spend some of your time monitoring and applying for these positions. These activities should in no way consume more than a quarter of your holiday job-search activities, as the other tools of job-hunting are much more likely to lead to job leads, job interviews, and job offers. Answering an urgent call from an employer, though, could lead to a quicker than usual hiring decision.
An optional step, if you have the time and energy, is to volunteer. Charities and other organizations are often stressed to the limits trying to help people cope with the holidays. Besides the emotional and spiritual lift you'll receive from giving back, volunteering is an excellent way to meet new people to add to your network.
Final Thoughts on Conducting a Job-Search During the HolidaysIf you put your mind to it, you may be able to accomplish more for your job-search during the weeks between Thanksgiving and New Year's than any other time. Bosses and higher-ups are less likely to be traveling and more accessible and year-end budgets and new-year budgets are being finalized opening up opportunities. Furthermore, people are generally in a happier and more giving mood, and there are fewer job-seekers fighting for the same jobs.
At the same time, as with most other things in life, strive for balance. If you're currently employed, consider using some of your vacation time for both job-hunting and relaxing. If you are unemployed, keep your main focus on job-hunting for a full-time position, but also take time to enjoy the season -- while also keeping all your options open -- including holiday/seasonal work and other temporary employment while searching for a full-time position.
If the end of December comes around and you do not have a job offer, don't be discouraged. If you did all the rights things over the past weeks, you've laid a strong foundation for finding a job in the new year. The relationships you build now plant the seeds for future success.
Finally, remember that you can accomplish other useful job-hunting activities during the holidays -- or any other time of the year, including:
- generating a consistent personal brand -- one that serves as an umbrella for your entire job-search process
- developing or beefing up a job-search portfolio (including both print and online versions)
- creating or enhancing your LinkedIn profile
- buying your domain name (SuzyJobseeker.com) and publish your resume and/or online portfolio
- conducting a cold-calling campaign to prospective employers
See also these Don't Sing the Holidays* Blues: A Six-Step Guide to Successful Job-Hunting Between Thanksgiving and New Year's.
Questions about some of the terminology used in this article? Get more information (definitions and links) on key college, career, and job-search terms by going to our Job-Seeker's Glossary of Job-Hunting Terms.
Dr. Randall S. Hansen is founder of Quintessential Careers, one of the oldest and most comprehensive career development sites on the Web, as well CEO of EmpoweringSites.com. He is also founder of MyCollegeSuccessStory.com and EnhanceMyVocabulary.com. He is publisher of Quintessential Careers Press, including the Quintessential Careers electronic newsletter, QuintZine. Dr. Hansen is also a published author, with several books, chapters in books, and hundreds of articles. He's often quoted in the media and conducts empowering workshops around the country. Finally, Dr. Hansen is also an educator, having taught at the college level for more than 15 years. Visit his personal Website or reach him by email at randall(at)quintcareers.com.
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