It’s no fun being on a job search at this time of year. For one thing, your ability to enjoy the holiday season might be dampened – or even drowned entirely – by the overwhelming reality that you’re not working although you’d like to be. Your holiday spending may be curtailed a little or a lot, adding to the discouragement load (“If I were working, I could buy my wife/kids/boyfriend a really great gift.”) It’s easy to feel stressed about what the New Year holds in store, job-search-wise; and on top of all that, you’ve heard the rumor that employers shut down their hiring engines during December. So what’s an end-of-the-year job-seeker to do?
Here are seven tips to make your December job-search time profitable and to pump up your emotional-energy fuel tank this month. Take a look!
- Keep the Engine Running: For starters, ignore the bad, old advice says that companies don’t hire people in December. Are you kidding? December 31 is the most popular fiscal year end on the planet, and the old ‘use it or lose it’ budgeting rule applies to new-hire salaries as much as it does to office supplies. Plenty of hiring managers are under the gun to fill jobs this month. Keep putting irons in the fire!
- Put Your Holiday Networking to Use: “I don’t want to go to any parties,” says my friend Amy. “I don’t want to meet a bunch of people and have to tell them I’m not working.” That’s one way to look at holiday networking. Another way is to say “Hey! If I can meet a dozen new people this month that’s good for me.” Of course, you won’t launch into your job-search spiel as you meet people for the first time at holiday events. You’ll spend your conversational energy creating relationship ‘glue’ with one, two or three people per event. That glue will inspire the follow-up coffees or lunches where a more focused conversation can take place — about your job search for sure, and your new acquaintance’s plans and projects as well.
- Build Your Online Soapbox: If you haven’t concentrated on the online portion of your job search thus far – and I’m talking about your online soapbox, not black hole job ads on Monster and its ilk – now is the time to do it. Make a plan to get your LinkedIn profile completed and to add a reasonable number of new LinkedIn connections — let’s say thirty of them — by the time 2010 rings in. If you don’t have your personal LinkedIn url on your email signature and your job search business cards, that’s another housekeeping and marketing item to attend to. What, no job-search business cards? Vistaprint.com will hook you up for a few pennies.
- Spark Holiday Reconnections: December is a great time to reconnect with friends and colleagues. Lunch, breakfast, coffee, drinks, bike rides and walks around the lake are all great catch-up venues, and every one of your in-person catch-up dates will give you moral support and advice for the job search you’re conducting. Job leads and new introductions are other great outcomes from one-on-one, face-to-face catch-ups. Two per week is a reasonable goal. What are you waiting for?
- Start a Journal: If you think keeping a journal is wussy, ask my friend Rodney, an online marketing guy. He job-hunted for six months before landing a plum job with a great company. “Writing a daily journal entry reminded me that I wasn’t spinning my wheels,” he said. “It was also a way to work out my ideas — about my job search, finances, my marketing plan, etc. — on paper. Now that I have a job, I’m going to keep journaling.”
- Re-Write Your Resume: Ninety-five percent of the job-seekers I know have sub-par resumes, yet say to themselves “I don’t have the energy to tackle that project, and anyway, I’ll make a great impact when I meet the hiring manager in person.” Only problem: ninety-five percent of the time, the hiring manager sees your resume before s/he sees you. Use any December downtime to dig into your resume and pump up its energy level. My suggestion: rip out the stodgy corporate boilerplate (“results-oriented professional with bottom-line orientation”) first.
- Consider a Holiday Job: Is hawking down comforters beneath you? I don’t blame you for feeling that way, but taking a part-time holiday sales job is not a bad way to throw off the holiday job-search blues. The social interaction, problem-solving opportunities, income-generation (however modest) and feeling of “I have a place to be, at ten a.m. today” that a holiday job provides are non-trivial boosts for job-seekers. Bonus: more networking! In the worst case, your holiday-job adventures will be fodder for your novel (or screenplay). Your designer neckties and sassy pumps are dying of boredom in your closet. Get out there!