As we head into the holiday season you may be thinking that it’s time to take a break from your job search. However, many job experts believe that the holidays can be one of the best times of the year to find a job. Monster resume expert Kim Isaacs (Networking Tips for the Holidays) points out that many companies want to start the New Year with the right talent already on board. Job search consultant Alison Doyle (Holiday Season Job Searching Tips) emphasizes that the business needs that drive hiring throughout the year – competitive pressures, growing markets, strategic initiatives – don’t take a break at the end of the year, even with the distraction of holiday celebrations.
The holiday season can be a great time to begin or jumpstart your job search because it can provide more occasions to socialize and network than other times of the year. According to Jamie Belinne, assistant dean for career services at C.T. Bauer College of Business (Take advantage of holiday networking opportunities to search for a new job), many jobs are never advertised before they are filled, so making the most of networking opportunities during the holiday season can help you tap into this hidden job market. And because many job seekers often postpone their search until January, there may be less competition during the holidays.
Networking at Holiday Events
- Whether you’re attending an employer-sponsored party or some other holiday event, make the most of social gatherings by planning in advance. If you’re at a party or mixer where you don’t know many people, you might want to set a goal, such as to meet and connect with three to five people. You should also be prepared to answer questions about your career goals clearly and concisely.
- Start conversations by focusing on the person you’re speaking with and showing interest in their lives, careers, etc. Networking is not about using people to give you a job, but rather about building meaningful and purposeful relationships with people who have knowledge and experience you can learn from.
- After you have established rapport, you can use the natural flow of the conversation to share your career and job search goals in a sentence or two. For example: “I’ve been working as a project manager in the chemicals industry for the past five years, but I’m starting to look at director level roles.”
- Sharing your goals opens the door to asking for advice and suggestions. People are generally quite willing to be helpful by sharing their experience or offering ideas, opinions and information.
- You can share business cards with your contact information and current position if applicable, but don’t hand out resumes at holiday functions. You can always send a resume as a follow up if it seems appropriate.
Following Up with Contacts
- Stay in touch with the people who’ve given you advice or support. You may want to send a handwritten thank you note or a holiday greeting card to key contacts, or share articles and information you think they may enjoy. Let people know if their suggestions have been helpful or if you have followed up with a referral.
- Keep your network going into the New Year and beyond. If there is a change in your status or goals, send an updated resume or note.
- Keep track of your contacts and how you have followed up with each by using contact management software, or a spreadsheet, chart or rolodex. Being organized in your follow up activity can help keep your network strong and viable well into the future.
Networking with Family, Friends and Colleagues
- Holiday gatherings with family and friends are a great opportunity to let everyone know about your job search goals and solicit information and suggestions.
- The holidays are also a good time to contact former colleagues, co-workers and old friends to catch up on what’s going on with them and share your current activities and goals. You can send an email or holiday note and suggest a catch up phone call or meeting for coffee or lunch.
As online job search expert Susan P. Joyce points out (Party Your Way to a New Job: Holiday Networking), networking is a long-term activity of sharing information and leads, where hopefully you help others as much as they help you. The holidays provide wonderful opportunities and venues for networking, and expanding the size and strength of your network at holiday events is a smart job search strategy.
The Muse Editor, offering job opportunities, expert advice, company information and career coaching and courses.