Don’t Be a Grinch!
Smart job seekers continue their search despite the holidaysBy Donald J. Strankowski
Ascend Career and Life Strategies
The holiday season will soon be upon us. It's almost time to start thinking about putting up a Christmas tree, visits from the in-laws, shopping for gifts and going to holiday parties.
What most people don’t realize is that the holiday season can also be a great time to conduct or to get more assertive with your job search.
The Thanksgiving-to-New Year holiday season is often viewed by many job seekers as a job-search desert. Nobody's hiring; new budgets haven't been decided; everybody's on vacation—so the conventional wisdom goes. People are thinking more about shopping lists and holiday parties than work, right?
Like most “conventional wisdom,” these opinions may contain an iota of truth, but the holiday season can also be a gold mine of opportunity for prudent job seekers.
The holidays give job seekers the gifts of social and networking opportunities, increased access to hiring managers and often new budgets and business projects that need to be staffed. It’s also a time of goodwill and giving where people are more likely to help.
Here are five key reasons to continue or even step up your job search during the holiday season:
1 - Your odds for success can increase due to a reduction in competition
Perhaps the biggest benefit for job-hunters is reduced competition for jobs. Because of most people’s thinking that employers are not hiring during the holiday season, many seem to give up their search during this time period. Though there may be a slight drop in the number of available full-time jobs, the number of job-seekers actively pursuing employment can drop off drastically thus, increasing your chances for success. Simply continue to do all the things you’ve been doing to this point; cold calling, networking, working with recruiters, etc. Playing the numbers can definitely work in your favor if you continue with the job search momentum you’ve already established.
2 - Many executives and key decision makers limit their travel during the holidays
Because of extended vacations, holiday preparation and in some instances last-minute budget and fiscal responsibilities, many key decision makers do not (or greatly limit) their travel during the Thanksgiving to New Year’s stretch. What this means to the smart job-seeker is that more key decision makers are available to make hiring decisions and when attempting to cold call or meet during a networking event.
3 - Some companies can find themselves with a budget surplus
Another circumstance that can work in your favor is the fact that some companies may not have used up all allocated funds for the current fiscal year. Back in corporate America during my days of selling software, December was usually a strong month due to the fact that many companies still had budgetary funds remaining. Not spending all available funds the current year often meant a decrease in funds allocated for the following year. Many departmental budgets are also used for hiring which means it’s use it or lose it. Some companies may opt to bring on new employees close to the end of the year as to use up any remaining funds and to allow the new employees to get acquainted with the new company and their peers. Still other employers may be under pressure to fill positions by year-end as to enter the beginning of the new calendar year fully staffed.
4 - Use seasonal activities to influence network contacts
The holiday season often brings us in contact with people we don't see very much during the year--former work colleagues, neighbors, out-of-town relatives, and old friends. These people can all be very influential members of your network, and once you've reconnected over a holiday get-together or phone call, you can follow up to ask for more specific assistance.
Try to attend as many holiday get-togethers and networking events as possible. Ask questions of the people you meet and show a genuine interest in what they do; this will in return pique their interest in you and their willingness to help.
Don't attend holiday parties with a fist full of resumes but do have business cards with you at all times. If you're unemployed, invest in a nicely printed personal business card, with your name, contact information and perhaps a two-word career descriptor, like Sales Executive, Database Programmer, etc. This way, you'll have something to exchange with the people you meet.
Be prepared to inform your contacts what you're up to and what you're looking for then ease up a bit. Try something like, “I don't want to bend your ear too long, how about if I give you a call in a few days to see what suggestions you might be able to give me.” When you do call, you've already set the “wheels in motion” so you won't feel awkward reintroducing yourself. Also, remember to dress for success for holiday networking events and parties!
5 - Don’t be a Scrooge—Volunteer!
An extremely effective technique for making contacts during the holiday period is volunteering. You'll be providing some much-needed help and simultaneously get the benefit of meeting new people. There are many groups that could use your assistance right about now--and for the rest of the year as well. Volunteering is also a great way to keep your skills sharp.
Don’t let you job search skills get “Frosty” during the holiday season. Keep things flowing and get a leg up on your competition before the January rush sets in. Will it be easy making inroads during the holiday season? Not exactly, but it's a far superior strategy to procrastination. Working longer, harder, and smarter always pays big dividends.
Donald J. Strankowski Jr. is founder and president of Ascend Career and Life Strategies, a training and consulting firm for businesses, professionals, executives. He works out of Boulder, Colorado and can be contacted at 303-245-7049, via email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on the web at www.AscendCareers.net.
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by Donald J. Strankowski
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