Job Search Tips for the Holiday Season
The holiday season often brings us in contact with people we don’t see very much during the year; former work colleagues, neighbors, 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 naturally follow up to ask for more specific assistance. Use seasonal activities to stimulate network contacts.
Remember – The jobs in Q1 will get filled by the pro-active job seekers in Q4!
Be prepared to BRIEFLY inform your contacts what you’re up to and what you’re looking for… then step back. “I don’t want to monopolize your time! 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 “primed the pump,” so to speak, and you won’t feel awkward reintroducing yourself to people you haven’t been close with recently.
TIP: If you attend a work party for your spouse, spend as much time as possible talking with other spouses (not just co-workers) because they will bring outside perspectives from many different workplaces.
TIP: If you come across people who have found a new job in the last year or so, remember that they are VERY inclined to be helpful to other job seekers!
Take advantage of corporate “down time” to meet with less-stressed executives. The last two weeks of December, lots of people take time off. Those who don’t often find themselves in a low-key work environment-most projects are completed, and there is a lull before things start fresh in the new year. This is the time to reconnect with people in your network and ask for an in-person meeting.
TIP: Bring in some holiday cookies, candy, nuts, or fruit to share-nothing elaborate or expensive, but a good way to make yourself part of the work environment.
TIP: Remember to ask for “advice, suggestions, and ideas,” NOT jobs or even job leads. Be clear about your talents, strengths and interests. Be appreciative, follow up on all ideas, and periodically provide a status report to your contacts. Keep them in the loop so they remain an active part of your network.
Position yourself to move strongly “out of the gate”come January. To be sure you’re ready to take off next month, do the following now:
Update or polish your resume. Make sure it is communicating your value and includes plenty of solid achievements that will prove your worth to potential employers. Rename it “your First/Last name Resume 2010”
Create a 2010 “template” cover letters that you can quickly tailor for individual opportunities. There’s no need to start from scratch each time, and if you give some thought now to the most important information you should present, you can easily modify these templates to get customized cover letters out quickly in January.
Search the web for job postings that are of interest, even if you don’t intend to apply for them due to location, level, industry, or some other factor. Peruse these postings to gain a solid understanding of what employers are looking for, and examine your resume and cover letter to make sure you’ve included the “key words” employers are most likely to use.
Create an updated target company list. Use online and traditional research methods to find companies you’d like to work for… companies with the right size, location, industry, growth projection, leadership team, mission, values, strategic partners, and on and on. Once you have your list, you can approach networking contacts with a real sense of mission: Help me connect to someone influential at this particular company.
Do salary research. Using job postings and information available at sites such as www.salary.com, come up with facts and trends that will support your salary-negotiation requests.
Research 20 new recruiters that specialize in your industry and discipline and use the “Call-Send-Call” formula:
1. Call each recruiter “directly” to introduce yourself, verify their specialty and email address, identify your objective and offer to provide your information electronically.
2. Send your professionally developed resume and customized cover letter with your salary requirements, geographic preferences and your professional objective.
3. Call them back in 1-2 weeks to answer any questions they may have about your background and experience. Note: Don’t call just to see if they received your email?
Brush up your interviewing and negotiating skills. Read a book on interviewing skills…prepare and practice your responses to common interview questions… videotape yourself and critique your performance… practice with a friend or a coach… zero in on your specific problem areas and practice, practice, practice untill your performance is smooth and polished. The key to successful interviewing is to be crystal clear about what you have to offer and how it can benefit a company, and be confident and persistent in communicating this information.
Be sure to enjoy the holiday season, regardless of your job search status. Try not to let the uncertainty, stress, or frustration of a job search interfere with family activities, traditional holiday celebrations, or the true joy of the season. If you do, you’ll certainly regret it when you look back, a few months from now, from the security of your new position.
Best Wishes for a Joyous Holiday Season!
Mark S. James, CPC
Hire Consulting Services