When the calendar reads mid-December, the days are getting shorter, and the weather’s getting colder and your stress level rises in anticipation of the holidays, especially if you’re unemployed. Do you find yourself d saying “bah humbug” more often than “ho-ho-ho”?
If that sounds familiar, here are some possible ways for you to remain positive and proactive in your job search during the Holidays.
Although it may seem counter-intuitive, the lull between Christmas and New Year’s may actually be a good time to step up your job search activities. While the malls might still be crowded, many non-retail businesses are actually slower this time of year. You may find that people have the luxury of spending more time with you now than they could when they were busier. You may even get lucky enough to meet with that otherwise elusive executive who never seems to have time to take your phone calls.
‘Tis the season to thank everyone who has helped you in the past year. Taking the time to send holiday cards is the perfect thank you and a way of reminding the people in your network - family, friends, neighbors, professional colleagues, etc. - that you are still in the job search. The Holidays may be the right time to both expand your network by adding new people to it, as well as the time to thank people already in your network with Holiday cards.
Rather than dreading going to holiday parties because you are unemployed, think of them as an occasion to network. Try to approach each social event as an opportunity to meet someone whom you can add to your network, although you may not be successful at every party. Preparing your so-called 30-second commercial or elevator pitch beforehand is as important as getting your outfit ready. You need to have at the ready a brief summary of your strengths, skills, and major accomplishments, as well as a succinct statement of your job target or career goals. When you arrive at the party armed with your 30-second self-advertisement, you will be prepared rather than tongue-tied when you are asked the inevitable, dreaded question: “So what do you do for work?”
If the other person seems interested in your situation and offers to help, you can agree to follow-up, in whatever way the person suggests – e.g., by sending your resume, e-mailing, or calling the person’s office to schedule a convenient time to meet to talk more in depth about career situation and perhaps possible job opportunities. If you have business cards, take a few with you, but leave copies of your resume at home. Your business card need have only important contact information; a job title for yourself is optional.
In the spirit of the season, try to come up with some creative ways to help others in your network, rather than thinking of your network as simply a bottomless well of support and advice for you. One way that you can help someone who has helped you is to offer to write a recommendation for them that will become part of their LinkedIn profile. Can you share a job lead that you’re not interested in with another job seeker whom you’ve met at a networking support group? Maybe you can connect a fellow job seeker with a relative of yours in the same field.
Continue your quest to help others by considering volunteering. When you are unemployed, volunteering helps get you out of the house – and out of your own head - and forces you to think about and engage with other people. At this time of year, nonprofit organizations, shelters, nursing homes and hospitals can often benefit from additional help. Help doesn’t have to mean writing a check – you can volunteer your time, energy and skills, perhaps for an event or some end-of-year fund-raising. You can check out web sites such as www.volunteermatch.org, or www.bostoncares.org or contact your own religious organization or other nonprofits for seasonal volunteer opportunities. The web site, www.boston-online.com/Volunteer lists and describes options for volunteering at a number of greater Boston-area non-profit organizations.