If you have ever conducted a job search during the holidays-if you are conducting one right now-it is important to understand that the holidays offer valuable opportunities not seen at other times of the year. Whatever you do, don’t believe the misconception that job searching during the holidays is a waste of time. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Not only will you have less competition in the job market during the holidays, you may have increased employment opportunities as many employers are still interviewing and hiring. Some are seeking new staff to fulfill certain business goals before the end of the year and others seek to put new employees in place, to have them all ready to go at the start of the New Year.
Here are some quick but essential tips to help you maximize the success of your job search efforts during the holidays.
1. Take advantage of holiday parties and events – Job leads and referrals can come from the most unexpected of sources. Family parties, get-togethers with friends, children’s events, church events, and holiday parties held by associations and civic groups should all be viewed and treated as networking opportunities. You should go to as many as you can fit in your schedule. Definitely keep it casual (now is not the time to hand out your résumé), but when the topic of work naturally comes up, talk about your job search and let people know you are open to advice and will be deeply appreciative of referrals. Collect names, email addresses, and phone numbers and follow up with your contacts a few days after the party.
2. Polish your presentation – Beat the rush! Professional resume writers are often swamped with work during the first few months of the year from job seekers and would-be job seekers who are just waiting for the New Year to conduct their search. If you need some professional assistance strengthening your resume, there is no better time than the present regardless of the season. Besides your comprehensive, traditional resume, you might also consider a shorter one-page version to use with networking contacts. These documents are concise summaries that will help your network contacts understand your job search goals, your qualifications, and your value proposition. If unemployed, you should also consider having some business cards made up with your name, a brief branding statement, and your contact information. You can hand these out at all the networking parties and events you attend during the holidays.
3. Re-establish old contacts – Truly effective networking is a continual effort that involves cultivating and nurturing relationships. If you’ve lost touch with old co-workers, supervisors, and college friends, now is a great time to reach out to them. Send a holiday card and include a note letting them know you’ve been thinking of them. Now isn’t the time to mention your job search, but a week or two later you could follow up with a phone call and a suggestion that you meet for coffee. The topic of work will inevitably come up and that is the time to discuss your search and to ask if they have any suggestions for people that it might be helpful for you to talk with.
4. Nurture new contacts – Put the names of recruiters you’ve been in touch with, employers who have recently interviewed you, and all your new networking contacts on your holiday card list. Send a “Season’s Greetings” or “Happy Holidays” card. You would be surprised at how few job seekers use this technique, and so it is a great way to keep your name in front of hiring decision-makers and help you 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.
5. 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. Keep your ultimate goal in sight by setting weekly job search goals and daily milestones. Schedule and calendar these milestones to make sure you allocate the time you need for your search. But, don’t forget yourself! Make sure you also schedule time for you to just relax and enjoy the holidays.
6. Get out and volunteer – There are lots of opportunities to volunteer your time over the holidays. Particularly if you are unemployed and have some extra time on your hands, volunteering is a great way to build new networking contacts, to enhance your qualifications and experience, and to help out your community at the same time. If you are struggling with feeling a bit “blue” about job searching during the holidays, this is also a great way to get out of the house and just forget your troubles for a brief time. Helping others feels good!
The bottom-line: Don’t take the holidays off. Continue with your job search and maintain your momentum by setting goals and following through with daily action steps. Whether you land your next job now or whether you land it in the New Year, when the celebrations are over you’ll be far ahead of all your job search competition-many of whom chose to forget all about job searching during the holidays.