Do you believe a December job search is basically a waste of your time and energy? If so, think again ... the holidays are actually one of the best times of year to look for work!
You, as a savvy job-seeker, already know that the vast majority of new positions are found by way of networking. But have you realized how powerful the holiday spirit can be when it comes to finding your next job? This festive time of year is packed with opportunities to meet new people, enlarge your network of contacts, and reach out to friends, family and coworkers. Believe it or not -- there are even socially sanctioned ways you can reconnect with recruiters and hiring managers.
Yet, because the month of December generally marks a slowdown in both workloads and hiring, many job-seekers opt to take this time off. Your competition levels, therefore, will drop substantially. And better yet, your competitors' long winter's nap becomes your great big advantage. By remaining active, the potential for you to be selected as the candidate who lands the job in January will skyrocket.
What others do not realize is that the start of the New Year brings about a major increase in hiring. (Employers need to ramp up their staff to handle the new projects and initiatives that are put into place during the first quarter of the year.) So, by making your presence known and building connections throughout the month of December, you will be setting yourself up to be first in line when hiring takes off.
Seasonal schmoozing: a job-seekers' bonanza!
The holidays are filled with parties, gatherings, and community events. These are all prime opportunities to mix, mingle and share your story. Be certain, however, that you don't dampen the festivities by trying too hard. Resist the temptation to deliver a rehearsed elevator speech unless you are attending a formal industry event where such introductions would be commonplace. Even then, make sure you judge the mood of the merrymakers before you come across as too stiff or businesslike.
At informal gatherings, a light touch is always best. When asked what you do, you can reply with a snappy one-liner that will pique your listeners' interest. For example, a department store buyer used this playful response when asked about her career, "I shop with other people's money." (You can bet ears perked up with that one!) Once the buyer had the attention of her audience, she then continued with a lengthier description of her skills, experience and job search goals.
Holiday greetings: your cheerful -- yet potent -- way to spread the word
Holiday cards and letters are not only welcomed, they are expected. Done correctly, they can be a great way of securing new leads and opportunities. After sharing the latest news about your family, you can mention your job search and add a few of the companies you are targeting. Then in a low-key manner, you can let your friends know that you would appreciate any suggestions or contacts they might have.
You can also send holiday greetings to recruiters you have worked with in the past, reconnect and then update them on your search. Recruiters are busy people and can easily forget candidates. So your greeting may well put you at the top of their mind in a favorable light. And, if you are very lucky, they might have the ideal job cross their desk just as your greeting appears in their inbox.
You might also consider sending a brief message to managers with whom you've interviewed. You can wish them well and let them know you are still interested in their position/company. Even if they have hired someone in the job you were seeking, things may not be working out. (Most companies employ a 90-day trial period for just this reason.) Or they might be looking at additional openings that would be a perfect fit for someone with your talents and skills. You have nothing to lose and, potentially, a lot to gain by sending a simple greeting.
Broaden your reach in new and innovative ways...
Volunteering, seasonal hiring, and all sorts of opportunities present themselves for moving beyond your immediate circle of contacts. Pursue as many of these as you can that will comfortably allow you time for other holiday networking activities. You never know where such opportunities may lead or with whom you will interact. Plus, the giving nature of volunteering and meeting with like minded people can't help but lift your spirits.
Above all, be sure to take full advantage of this very special time of year. People tend to be a bit merrier and certainly more open to reconnecting. So take the time to reach out, share the warmth of the season, and keep your ultimate goals in mind. The holiday spirit is filled with potential and that alone should put a hearty ho-ho-ho into your job search!
Mary Eileen Williams is a Nationally Board Certified Career Counselor with a Master's Degree in Career Development and twenty years' experience assisting midlife jobseekers to achieve satisfying careers. Her book, Land the Job You Love: 10 Surefire Strategies for Jobseekers Over 50, is a step-by-step guide that shows you how you can turn your age into an advantage and brand yourself for success. Updated in 2014, it's packed with even more critical information aimed at providing mature applicants with the tools they need to gain the edge over the competition and successfully navigate the modern job market. Visit her website at Feisty Side of Fifty.com and celebrate your sassy side!