Top 10 Holiday Tips for Career Success

Monday, December 21st, 2009 | Posted in Blog, Ford Myers

Every year as the holidays approach, most jobseekers and career changers make the mistake of halting all their efforts. They believe there is no point in pursuing new opportunities during the holidays, and that nobody is making hiring decisions until late January, so “why bother?” Many decide to do absolutely nothing from mid-November to the second or third week in January.

Making these kinds of assumptions about the holidays is, again, a huge mistake! Especially in this challenging job market – the worst since the Great Depression!

When it comes to the holidays, I suggest you be a “contrarian” – and do what all the other job seekers are not doing. Since most of them are taking an extended break, this opens-up real opportunities for you!
The reality is that the holidays are an excellent time to develop and leverage new contacts for your job search or career transition. Many companies are completing their budget planning for the next fiscal year. This is often the best time to get in front of hiring managers, who can create a position for you in the coming year. Many managers have to fill openings early in the year or they may lose the budget for that position. Also, once year-end bonuses are paid, a predictable percentage of employees will leave their jobs, creating new vacancies!

Here are 10 career-savvy tips you can follow during the holidays:

1. IT’S ALL ABOUT RELATIONSHIPS
Business is all about establishing relationships – and relationships are best developed in social settings. During the holidays, most people are naturally more convivial and generous in spirit. There is simply no better time to solidify existing relationships and forge new ones!

2. TUNE IN TO THE NETWORK
There are many networking events in December and January – in your social life, in your community, and in your professional circles. Think of all the companies having holiday parties. Many charities have their last fundraisers of the tax year in December. The book sales, holiday fairs and other celebrations make this the best time of year for productive networking!

3. SMALL TALK REAPS BIG BENEFITS
Most professional associations make a holiday party out of their December meeting. These special occasions offer a more casual atmosphere than the formal presentations held at other monthly meetings. Do not bring a resume to these events. Create a simple, tasteful business card with your name, phone number and e-mail address. Be prepared to make interesting small talk to establish new contacts. Ask the people you meet about themselves, their work, and their interests. Remember, everyone’s favorite subject is “themselves!”

4. CONVERSATION STARTERS AND STOPPERS
Prior to a social or networking event, prepare at least three neutral questions you can ask, such as:
• How do you know the host, the company, etc.?
• What made you decide to come to this event?
• What other organizations in this industry do you belong to?
If you find it’s time to move on and talk with someone new, you’ll need some phrases to help you transition during the event. Here are some good “exit lines:”
• I’ll let you go now, so you can continue circulating around the room.
• I’ll stop monopolizing your time so you can meet some other folks.
• It was great speaking with you. I’ll follow up as we discussed.

5. VOLUNTEER

There are more volunteer opportunities around the holidays than at any other time of year. This is a good way to help other people, feel good when you need a boost, have a renewed sense of purpose during your search, and meet other professionals. Volunteering also gives you something interesting to discuss with the new people you meet!

6. CALL PEOPLE
On the day after the holiday, make follow-up calls to people you’ve just met, and also make cold calls. You’ll find that many people will not be at work. Whoever is at work that day will not only be available for a conversation, but will be grateful to speak to someone. If there are people who you’ve been having a hard time reaching, be sure to take advantage of this unique calling opportunity.

7. SEND HOLIDAY CARDS
Pick a seasonal, nondenominational theme – usually a depiction of a winter scene is best. This is the time to send cards to everyone on your “career list,” including executive search firms, Human Resource professionals, and hiring managers. Don’t write about your job search in the card. Send your cards early enough for people to invite you to their holiday get-togethers, and to send you a card in return. Be sure to include your contact information with the card, so the recipient can also reach you!

8. ‘TIS BETTER TO GIVE THAN TO RECEIVE
Remember the old saying popular at this time of year, “Tis better to give than to receive.” Well, it’s certainly true when you’re attempting to connect with people during the holidays. The fastest and most effective strategy for getting help is to offer help to others. Ask the people in your network who they might like an introduction to, or if there is any way that you can be of assistance to them. Be a real “connector,” and in turn, you will become “connected!”

9. PLUG IN AND TURN ON
Technology has come a long way. Use the holidays to connect and reconnect with people on business networking web sites, such as http://www.linkedin.com, http://facebook.com, http://www.ryze.com, http://www.visualcv.com, and http://www.ecademy.com. Connect with local businesspeople in cyberspace and then take your connection “live” with a face-to-face meeting.

10. BECOME AN OPPORTUNITY MAGNET
At holiday time, some jobseekers tend to become overly negative or cynical during what they perceive as a lull in their career transition. Don’t fall into this trap. Get into positive action precisely when others are giving-up or “sitting on the sidelines” until early next year. Always think and speak positively, and you’ll become an opportunity magnet – poised to attract, interview, and “hire” your next employer.

If you’re currently in career transition or looking to move-up at your organization, these strategies should give you a new perspective on the holidays. Instead of “taking a vacation” from your career development activities, take full advantage of this overlooked opportunity to make real progress in your quest. Then, you’ll really have something to celebrate!

Click here to watch helpful career success videos!

About Ford Myers

Career Success and Job Search Expert, Ford R. Myers

Ford R. Myers is an award-winning career coach and President of Career Potential, LLC. He is author of the best-seller, Get The Job You Want, Even When No One’s Hiring. Ford’s firm helps clients take charge of their careers, create the work they love, and earn what they deserve! He has held senior consulting positions at three of the nation’s largest career service firms. Ford’s articles and interviews have appeared in hundreds of magazines, newspapers, television and radio networks. He has also conducted presentations at many companies, associations and universities. Learn more at www.CareerPotential.com or contact Ford directly at 1-800-972-6588.

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