The holiday season is always a time for shopping, but this year, with unemployment in double digits, it's a time for shopping for jobs.
And a good time, at that.
The holiday season holds many special opportunities for the job-shopper, says Ken Dawson, CEO of Total Career Success and co-author of Job Search: The Total System, third edition.
“A common misconception about the holiday season is that business ceases when the festivities begin." But "the holidays are a social time, with parties, association functions and increased travel," and "smart job- seekers use these holiday events to reconnect with old friends as well as develop their professional and personal contacts."
In fact, with serious concerns about joblessness weighing on the nation, “job shopping is a holiday priority for many," Dawson says. Even though a layoff or job change can put a real damper on one’s Holiday spirit, now is not the time to slow down on networking and job-search efforts.
For those seeking work, Dawson says, "networking during the holidays more than any other activity will further their job hunt and position them to be ahead of their competition come January 4.”
He recommends the following tips to ensure success in holiday job searches:
• Attend holiday parties and join the festivities. People can make excellent contacts, which may otherwise take weeks to uncover. Given that the No. 1 reason people find new positions is a positive attitude, be sure holiday spirits include being positive and upbeat about the future.
• Be open about the job search and share information not only about what you are seeking, but also exchange information you have gained that can benefit others. Remember, giving is better than receiving, and in this situation, it will create better results for you.
• Use holiday cards, hard-copy or electronic, to update friends, associates and family on a current status. A note on a card is an upbeat way to get the word out. Then follow up to personally exchange greetings and contacts.
• Plan ahead if you are going to be traveling. Notify potential employers, and let them know you’ll be in town and would like to drop by. The out-of-towner has the psychological advantage over someone locally.
• Don’t hesitate to network with potential employers during the holiday season. With many companies in the midst of budget planning, managers may have tips on positions opening after the first of the year. And with company activities slowing during the holidays, it can be an ideal time to call a manager who may be catching up in his or her office.
• Use the holidays to organize a job search. Do homework, research companies and be prepared for increased activity after the first of the year.
Adds Sheryl Dawson, co-author of Job Search: The Total System:
“Whether out of a job or anticipating the ‘ax,’ you shouldn’t use the holidays as an excuse not to pursue new opportunities. Many job searchers make the false assumption that the holidays are a bad time to search. Rather than slowing down job search activity, step up the pace....
“The holidays are a perfect time to make contacts. Job-seekers shouldn’t think they’d spoil the fun by letting people know they’re looking for work. With a cheerful attitude and a professional approach, a holiday job seeker has a definite edge over those who wait until after New Year's."
Finally, "Most of all, constructive activity helps eliminate the temptation for the job-seeker to get down in the dumps during the holidays. No one likes a party pooper. Stay positive, flexible and proactive. Remember, you only need one job, so do not focus on the unemployment statistics. Rather, focus on what you have to offer an employer – your skills, competencies and value. If your industry is down, and you must consider alternative careers or industries, concentrate on your transferable skills. There is a job or opportunity that is right for you.”