Yes, Virginia, the holidays are a good time to expand your career opportunities

 

Whoever said it is a bad idea to job search during the holidays is a Grinch. Holidays, although having their own challenges, are a fantastic time to put a little kick in building your network and boost your career search.

The downsides are that during this time it might be difficult to get all decision makers together at one time. This only means that things could be delayed. No worries. You can keep in contact, send a little holiday cheer and reach right back out after everyone has returned to the office.

Budget considerations seem to be the excuse the Grinches use to not job search. Bah Humbug! If it is a budget issue that they can’t hire by the end of the year, it only means a bit of a delay into the new year. As my son would say, “it’s not that heavy.” It gives you time to build relationships and prepare for the upcoming submission or interview.

The other side of the coin of budget considerations is there are some jobs that are “use it or lose it”. Meaning if they do not fill them by the end of the year, that position will be written off. In that situation, recruiters work doubly hard to fill those positions in the last few weeks before the new year. They have to, too many people are not active because they listened to a Grinch.

Reach out, connect and keep your ears open for these opportunities.

The holidays also provide ample reasons to get out there and network! Maybe you aren’t invited to your dream company’s holiday party, but that doesn’t mean you can’t hobnob with your future coworkers. Charitable organizations give plenty of opportunities for a twofer: to expand your network and support a worthy cause.

You may not have to work very hard to find these opportunities, sometimes they come to you. Case in point: I was called for a donation/tickets to a fun, youth-focused benefit concert – thank you Memphis Firefighters!

Many friends and family have holiday get-togethers. This is a wonderful opportunity to drop little nuggets. Often attendees will reminisce over the past year or look forward. This is a great time to casually mention your career goals or job search. You can have fun with this: “All I want for Christmas is an introduction to Chris Kringle at Holiday Central Company.” Or if you aren’t in the mood for a little corny, maybe say that you have had a great year and next year you are excited to hit one of your goals – to move up into that Reindeer Logistics position.

Be of good cheer and get out there! When attending events be your best elf. Go with the intention of not only meeting specific or new people but with the purpose of providing value to them. It is a golden rule of networking, but worth repeating.

Don’t forget that any interaction is a networking opportunity. Out shopping for someone on your list or for yourself? Oh come on, I can’t be the only one that sees a major deal score on something I already wanted so I just happen to pick it up while I’m out…. While out in the holiday eating and shopping frenzy, talk to your fellow elves. You never know where these conversations can lead. I’m always happily distracted by conversations with strangers during crazy holiday mayhem.

The holidays lend themselves for more interaction. Except on Black Fridays, most people seem to be filled with more cheer. When you see all the opportunities around you, the holidays can be the time when you crush your networking goals.

 

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A little about me: I do what I love: help leaders break out of a suffocating corporate existence and into a position and place that renews their brilliance.
As the Founder and Principle of Career Polish, Inc., a national career personal branding firm, I am an Executive Brand Strategist, Resume Writer and Career Coach. I work with individual clients, companies, leadership and teams to identify, strengthen and effectively communicate their brand, engagement, commitment and most importantly – their value – by learning and leveraging personal branding as applied to LinkedIn, resumes, networking, communication, relationship management, presence and influence.
Click here – CareerPolish.com – to find out more about how we can help you.
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It Is Useless To Job Search During The Holiday Season

santa-holiday-job-search-tips

Without a plan, that is.

I do not know who decided that job searching during the holidays was a bad idea. The origin does not matter, I only wish the idea would stop perpetuating.

There are plenty of benefits and considerations about searching during the holiday. Although some searches slow down or are temporarily delayed during this time, there are plenty of opportunities still available and interviews to score. Here are five considerations:

  1. Some companies have a need due to a recent “reorganization” at the end of the year or by staff giving notice to take advantage of time off coupled with holiday closing. Candidates will be needed to fill these needs at the start of the new year.
  2. There is less competition because so many take the ill advice of taking a full break during the holidays.
  3. Holiday hiring has its own timeline. It requires flexibility and patience to accommodate staff taking time off before they lose it at the end of the year, holiday parties and companies closing for a day.
  4. If you do not hear by the end of the year it is not an automatic rejection. There are many factors coming into play, not only the ones mentioned above, but the human element of after the first of the year everyone reengaging to move forward.
  5. Fiscal year and budgets come into play so your start date could very well be after the new year, this could also work to your advantage in negotiating salary and benefits.

Leverage the opportunities at hand to not only spread merriment, but also spread the word you are ready and available for that next great opportunity! Here are four tips for conducting an active holiday search:

  1. This is the time for good cheer and many attendees at holiday events will welcome the opportunity to help you with your search or spread the word.
  2. There are more networking opportunities that come along with holidays – more events and more attendees. Think beyond company events to research and include Chambers of Commerce or professional associations, as well.
  3. Partner changing your strategy (attending more events) with changing your approach. Think of this push as growing your network instead of finding a job and it will increase your ability to enjoy the interactions much more. Added bonus – partner these two with a goal of helping those you meet.
  4. Use holidays as an excuse to reconnect with your network and gently remind them you are searching. Send holiday notes, cards or emails wishing them well and casually mention, in an upbeat tone, that you are continuing to search for your next great opportunity and know it will be coming soon. If your contacts have helped you in the past, be sure to thank them.

But what if you are burnt? What if you have been networking, getting the word out and been active in your searching to no avail? You cannot muster the enthusiasm or energy to go caroling for opportunities. You may not be in the mindset for active searching; however, holidays are still a good time to passively search.

What I call passive search is setting a strategy. If all your holiday deeds are done, you may have more time on your hands. Take advantage of this by reevaluating and refocusing your job search strategy. It requires quiet time, index cards, pen and eggnog (or your choice of beverage). Here are five action items to help refocus and evaluate:

  1. Review your resume. Do not look at it as yours, evaluate it as a hiring manager. Does it speak to the position you seek and the value you bring in a clear way? Grab a glass of eggnog and a pen and start slashing and dashing.
  2. Review your LinkedIn profile. This is a different conversation than your resume. For more about the differences – check out this article: I speak 7 Languages – None are Right for Writing a LinkedIn Profile Are you speaking to your target audience? Is your value, passion and personality coming through? Print it out, grab another glass of eggnog, pen and slash and dash.
  3. What do you offer? Here is a great brainstorming exercise that always works for me in removing blocks and guiding me to clarification. Grab a stack of index cards (or if you prefer notebook/electronic document – one card would equal one line), glass of eggnog and a pen.Only write one thought per index card. Start with the obvious: Degree, years of experience, specific skills – but just one per card. Write as many as you can think of, do not limit yourself and there are no bad ideas. After you have written as many as you can, take each one and now expand on it. Write as much as you can and if another thought comes up – write a new card.
  1. What are you looking for? You can either do the same process with index cards as above. Begin with a single thought per card or line. The type of company, size, industry. Then start getting into the nitty gritty: what do you want to do, how, what about the environment. One thought per card. Then create another stack of cards – what do you not want. Keep going after you think you are done, get it down to the bone. Anything that pops in your head write it down. Things like parking, is there a gym nearby, whatever the smallest details you can think. Once you have completed each list take a break. Then come back and review. You might be surprised at some of the things that come out of this.
  1. What about your network, who can help you and how? Grab more index cards and refill that eggnog and start writing one name per card. Think of people in your network – not just work but personal networks. People at the gym, clubs, organizations, kids sports groups – anyone you can think of write them down. Then on the back of each card, write down how they can help you.Next, review all the ‘hows’ and create an action plan. Reach out to Joey at the gym and ask him about xyz. Connect with Joan on LinkedIn and request an introduction to Jerry.

Take advantage of the opportunities that the holidays offer for both a passive and active job search and with a little effort, action and persistence you might just be ringing in a new job after the new year!

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As the Founder and Principle of Career Polish, Inc., a national career coaching and practice firm, I am an Executive Brand Strategist, Resume Writer and Career Coach. I work with individual clients, companies, leadership and teams to identify, strengthen and effectively communicate their brand, engagement, commitment and most importantly – their value – by learning and leveraging LinkedIn, resumes, networking, communication, relationship management, presence and influence.
I help people get from where they are in their jobs to where they want to be in their careers.

Click here – CareerPolish.com – to find out more about how we can help you.

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Holiday Networking: Make it Simple, Make it Brief and Don’t Make it All About You

new years pictureDecember is typically a great month full of even more opportunities to get together with friends, family and business associates.  With the holidays driving the month most get-togethers are centered on appreciation for those we know, the blessings in our life and an excuse to get out a bit more and have fun.

 

Christmas parties, holiday parties, Hanukah parties it does not matter – the underlying reason for the get together is the spirit of the season.

 

That does not mean there is not an opportunity to network, oh no, there are even more opportunities to network.  However, when most activities are holiday driven the approach should be adjusted just a bit.

 

The spirit and season is about giving and sharing.

 

Therefore, your networking speech should be tightened up just a bit to make it less about you and more about others.

 

Instead of your normal 30 second “here is all my value” speech, try to condense it to about 10 seconds and then translate to the spirit of the event.

 

Personally in response to what I do I could respond, “I help people get noticed to get hired, which could be a great Christmas present.”

 

Just for the record, there always seems to be that lingering political correctness over Christmas/Holiday thing going on so try not to focus on that so much and focus more on the meaning.

 

In my personal opinion and experience people do not get offended if you say Christmas rather than holiday if the context is about the joy of the season or wishing them health, happiness and blessings.

 

Instead of the typical follow up questions during networking – the “what is your target market, is there anyone I can introduce you to blah, blah, blah – try asking something in the spirit of the season.

 

For example, you could inquire if there are any special family traditions that they will be doing this year, or what was their favorite tradition they did as a kid that they will be doing with their kids/grandkids or even state that you are always looking for new seasonal recipes – do they have any favorite that they could share.

 

Yes, you are networking; but you are also there to celebrate the season so relax and enjoy yourself, be yourself and don’t make it all about you.

 

Make those connections and be sure to tell people that you would love to follow up with them to find out more about what they do and how you can help them, but right now how about offering them another cup of eggnog?

 

 

Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW

Career Coach-Strategist

Certified Professional Resume Writer

Career Polish, Inc.

http://www.CareerPolish.com