Ah, the holiday season. There’s nothing quite like it! From the appearance of delectable Thanksgiving treats in the grocery store to Christmas and Hanukkah decorations on full display, there are plenty of signs that the festive winter holiday season has commenced!
Yet, here you are, still looking for a new job. The holidays are a time for family, friends, food – and job searching?
The weeks between Thanksgiving and New Year’s often seem compressed and jam-packed with activity. Focus on work seems to wane as people plan for family visits, feasts with friends, and festivities related to their jobs or professions.
Whether you are unemployed and looking for your next job or still employed and pursuing a career change, this time of year often feels like a lost cause.
You’re too busy, or if you’re not, those that do the hiring usually are. At least, that’s what you’ve come to expect.
Lost in the holiday hoopla is the fact that a successful holiday season job search is actually a very real possibility. There are indeed some great opportunities during the holiday season to network, generate job leads, and engage in a job search that has the potential to create positive results.
Why You Should Continue Job Searching During the Holidays
Here’s the good news.
Despite the common belief that a holiday job search is a waste of effort, nothing could be further from the truth. The holiday season actually offers job seekers valuable opportunities not seen at other times of the year.
Many job seekers buy into the myth that job searching during the holidays is a waste because no one hires during the holidays. Make this work in your favor!
Sending out your resume, chatting to friends and acquaintances about potential opportunities, or meeting with recruiters NOW means you have access to more potential interviews – with less competition.
Upcoming Budget Reviews
Many companies have their budget review and planning in January, meaning that departments must use up their currently allotted budget by the end of the year. And if departments need people, they will try to hire them. So use this fact as your impetus to start your job search at a time when most people take a break.
Increased Networking Opportunities
The holiday season usually means gatherings, parties, and social events. With discretion, job search networking during the holiday season can be ideal! Whatever the occasion, professional or personal, take advantage of your chance to connect with people. With the combination of being around people you know now and those you are meeting for the first time, the holidays can jumpstart your search for a new job. Remember that the more people you meet and talk with, the greater your chances of landing a job.
The Most Wonderful Time of Year
So, keep that search momentum going. If anything, the holidays are a time to step up your job search. You should continue to set regular job search goals and take positive action steps daily toward achieving those goals.
Still, free time is sparse between all the holiday parties, family gatherings, and travel plans, and it’s hard to focus on your job search. We understand! But don’t worry – we’ve got you covered. Here are 12 painless (and maybe even fun!) ways to continue with your holiday season job search. Happy hunting!
1) Take Advantage of Every Seasonal Event Invitation
Tis the season. To be social. To get in touch, to reconnect, to communicate. If there are company functions planned, attend them. Remember that not every job lead necessarily involves another employer. It may actually exist with your current company.
If you’re invited to other holiday parties, go. It doesn’t matter whose party it is. Go. Is your friend’s employer having a party? Go. Is the association you belong to hosting a mixer? Go. Is your local chamber of commerce having an open house? Go. The idea is to collect as many job leads as you can.
2) Be Prepared
At all of these parties, it may be that some people know of an opportunity for you, give you their card, and ask you to contact them – which is great!
You don’t want to be unprepared, so make sure your cover letter, resume, and references are ready to go so you can make the most of any opportunity that comes your way. Also, update and optimize your LinkedIn profile for those who might look you up after meeting you at a party.
While you want to be prepared for those who ask for them, it would be a display of bad taste to bring your resume and cover letter to a holiday social event. As an alternative, many job seekers find that networking business cards are the perfect solution, ensuring your contact knows how to reach you.
Professional resume writers get really busy in January around the new year, so don’t put it off. NOW is the best time to seek out resume writing help and schedule a consultation with us at Distinctive Career Services. We can help with your resume and cover letter writing, your Linkedin profile, and you’re your networking business cards.
3) Enjoy the Festivities, But Just Say No!
While not every festivity is guaranteed to generate potential job leads, any conduct on your part that results in a need for you to apologize is virtually guaranteed to close a door, if not worse.
Don’t for a moment think that a potential employer will forgive (never mind forget) a drunken display because it’s the holidays. And, no, no employer will deny you an opportunity because you didn’t drink at a holiday party. Trust us. Drinking or not drinking is not a test.
4) Explore the Unadvertised Job Market
Even if companies are hiring, they may not advertise those openings, so don’t use the job boards as your only guide to finding job openings.
Search for the companies where you want to work and the possibility that they have the type of work you want to do. As we’ve already pointed out, the holiday season is an ideal time to reconnect with people in your network.
Take advantage of this as a chance to find people you know who have connections with your companies of interest. When talking with your friends, family, and business contacts, ask them if they have other ideas for people you should speak with.
Many businesses become more relaxed as the holidays approach – more gatherings, fewer people in the office. Use this to your advantage. Prospective employers could be more open to chatting about jobs available now or in the new year.
Job searching in this targeted way is often the most effective strategy a may result in uncovering dream job opportunities that you would not otherwise know about.
5) It’s the Write Time. Or, Rather, it’s the Time to Write
Think holiday greeting cards are passé? Perhaps, if they’re preprinted without the addition of a personal touch.
Who among us doesn’t like to receive a handwritten note from someone we know? Exactly.
Go through your contact list and take inventory of those with whom you have had a positive connection. It might be a former employer, a mentor, a past co-worker, a customer, a recruiter you’ve been in touch with, or someone you met at a conference
If you haven’t thought about these individuals in some time, likely, they haven’t thought much about you either. So give them a reason to do so. Showing you care may be exactly what the doctor ordered.
Of course, now isn’t the time to mention your holiday job search, but you could follow up a week or two later with a phone call. The topic of work will inevitably come up, and that is the time to discuss your search and ask if they have any suggestions for people that might be helpful for you to talk with.
You would be surprised at how few job seekers use this strategy, so it is a great way to stand out from your competition. You might consider sending your card at a slightly offbeat time so it arrives alone rather than with a dozen other cards. For example, on December 26, you could send a “Happy New Year” card.
As the saying goes, timing is everything. And your friendly social reminder may just cross the desk of someone who knows of a position for which you are ideally suited. Wouldn’t a new job start the New Year off just right?
6) Enjoy the Chit Chat
People want to chat at holiday events, and talking about work is a natural part of the chit-chat – but only a part. So let the conversation flow naturally; otherwise, you may come across as too blunt, and that’s not quite how you want to be remembered.
Engage, but don’t overdo it. And remember that your goal is simply to gain introductions or referrals to people, continuously expanding and strengthening your network.
If you ask if your contact knows of a job opening, the answer will almost always be “no.” But if you ask for an introduction to other people your contact knows, the answer will often be in the affirmative.
7) Follow Up With Your Contacts
If you do have networking prospects who could potentially help you with your career goals, make sure you follow up on all of them. Because it’s the holidays, people are in happier spirits and will enjoy hearing from you, and your strategy should reflect that. In other words, make the conversation reasonably light and relaxed but still to the point.
8) Have Your Own Gathering
It is better to give than to receive – and if you find yourself looking for opportunities for job search networking during the holiday season, it can be a great idea to host your own holiday party.
Invite friends and colleagues, acquaintances, and neighbors. You never know who might hold the key to new career opportunities. It also lets people know what gracious, conscientious, and enjoyable company you are – which makes for a great first impression.
9) Evaluate Your Job Search and Interview Strategies
Even if you have to wait for new job opportunities to unveil themselves or come to fruition as you search during the holidays, this doesn’t mean there is nothing for you to do.
Take this time to reassess your job search strategies, research prospective employers, and polish your professional networking and interview techniques.
Refining these aspects will make you more confident when talking with others before and during job interviews and, in turn, will enhance your chances of getting hired.
10) Be Open to New Ideas and Opportunities
As you start your holiday job search, you may have a specific idea about what you want from a new position, and that’s good. But don’t let that idea limit you to what is out there.
Consider every new opportunity that comes along, even if it wasn’t in your original career path. You could find some delightful surprises, or it could reinforce that what you thought you wanted was correct.
11) Stay Positive
Many people struggle through the “holiday blues,” and the tendency for this can be even greater when you are frustrated by a challenging job search.
If you are conducting a job search during the holidays, keep your ultimate goal in sight by setting weekly goals and daily milestones. Schedule and calendar these milestones to ensure you allocate the time you need for your search.
But don’t forget yourself! Make sure you also schedule time to relax and enjoy the holidays.
Cultivating patience is smart too. When more people are out of the office, and those there are filling in for those who aren’t, the pace of business and hiring can become slower. Therefore, you need to wait patiently – things will happen.
12) Plan for the Future
If you are feeling at all unsure about your career path, now might be the perfect chance to take a step back and spend some time evaluating and clarifying your career goals. Maybe you decide it is time to step out of your career comfort zone and pursue an industry change you’ve been considering. Maybe you decide it is time to make a complete career fresh start. Or perhaps you discover your current career path is exactly where you want to be.
Regardless of your career decision, some time invested in working on career design and planning is time well spent.
The start of a new year marks an excellent opportunity to take stock of where you’ve been and plan where you want to go next. After all, what better time is there to start dreaming of a brighter future? If you require some motivation, look no further than the brand-new year and its seemingly infinite possibilities. From a career change to learning a new skill, now is the time to make your resolutions happen. So grab your planner, dust off your pens, and get down to business — using the freshness of the year ahead as inspiration and fuel for achieving success in whatever endeavor you choose.
The bottom line: Don’t use the holidays as an excuse to take a break from your pursuit of a new job. Conducting a search during the holidays can be very fruitful. Take advantage of the fact that you have less competition, continue with your efforts, and maintain your momentum by setting goals and following through with daily action steps.
Whether you land your next job now or in the New Year, when the celebrations are over, you’ll be far ahead of all your job search competition–many who chose to forget all about job searching during the holidays.