With your social calendar full of holiday parties this time of year, take advantage of the opportunity to network and build contacts that might help you find a job. Here are 10 tips to help you.
- Schedule as many networking opportunities as possible. This includes holiday parties at companies you want to work for, as well as networking groups, conferences, workshops and one-on one events. While you don’t want to overbook yourself to the point of exhaustion, you want to take advantage of this season, which has more events than the rest of the year. Plus, people are in better moods right now, thanks to the holidays, which is even more of a reason to kick networking into high gear!
- Don’t pitch yourself at the party. Focus on making friends. Yes, you want a job. But networking isn’t about pushing your agenda. It’s about making contacts and nurturing them. So you might meet a hiring manager at a party tomorrow. Rather than announcing your needs in the job department, follow up with an email. Then invite her to coffee or lunch. Maintain the relationship, and at the right time, you can ask about a job. Tactfully.
- Don’t slack off on the job hunt right now. It might be tempting to forgo your daily job search to wrap gifts instead, but you’d be making a big mistake. Many people assume job hunting is dead during the holidays, but in fact, the holidays are a great time to work on those relationships. Hiring managers are more available with work slowing, so it’s a great time to make contact, either over the phone or in-person.
- Strategically plan to be at parties where you know key decision makers will be. If you’re not sure which parties to fill your dance card with, aim for the ones with people who work for the companies you want to work for. If you’re lucky, you might have a friend who works for that company who can invite you to the annual holiday party. But also look at networking groups (check Meetup and see who the members are) to find the key decision makers.
- Send holiday cards as followup to meeting people. Networking isn’t just about drinking eggnog with other people; it also includes the follow-up. This time of year, you will stand out by sending a holiday card to your newly-made contacts. Handwrite a short note telling them how nice it was to meet them at the X party. Include your business card if you didn’t already exchange them at the party. Include a personal mention, playing off the conversation you had (“I hope your son wins the soccer tournament!”) to add a little more intimate connection.
- Schedule a coffee meeting if you feel the connection is solid enough. As you nurture these contacts, you’ll interact with them more and more. It might start out with a few emails back and forth. But if it feels right (you think the person will be receptive), invite your new contact out for coffee. Your objective here isn’t to ask for a job, but rather to get advice. Maybe it’s to ask what this particular company looks for in an employee, or maybe it’s to get mentored on how you can improve your skills to be more hireable. If your contact is comfortable with you and is in a position to help, let her ask if she can give you a reference or set up an interview.
- Find local meetings in your industry and participate. A great way to meet the movers and shakers in your industry is by diving in headfirst. Find groups in your area that meet monthly to discuss topics that relate to your field. This will help you get the behind-the-scenes buzz on who’s hiring and what they’re looking for.
- Don’t drink too much! We’ve all heard about the office party that went a little crazy. While it’s fine to have a glass of wine, remember you’re networking to impress. If the hiring manager’s memory of you involves a lampshade, you probably won’t fall high on the hiring list.
- Focus on giving, rather than getting. Networking is about creating value. Don’t go into it looking for what you can get out of it. Instead, focus on how you can make yourself useful to new people. Maybe you can recommend a good book to read, or connect a new contact to a graphic designer if she’s looking for one. The more you give, the more people will stick around. And they’ll want to give back to you!
- Don’t forget your business cards! This one seems like a no-brainer, but I can’t tell you how many industry events I’ve attended where people had forgotten their business cards! Make sure yours has up-to-date contact information, and that you have enough to exchange. (Better too many than not enough!)
Keep these tips in mind as you network throughout December. Remember, it’s about developing long-term relationships, not getting what you want right now.
Many people assume that the job market slows around the holidays and end of year, but that’s not true. It’s actually a good time to step up your networking and job seeking, so that you position yourself to be the candidate companies turn to when they’re ready to hire.
Think of it like this: Many companies are trying to fill their open requisitions so new employees can start fresh in the new year. Sometimes they need to use up their hiring budget before January. Plus, people tend to be lax on everything during the holidays. People are taking time off to hang out with friends and family. Fewer job seekers are working hard to network, so this gives you the leg up if you dedicate yourself to rubbing elbows with hiring managers. There are plenty of networking events and holiday parties going on, which give you the chance to connect with people from companies where you want to work.
Business is slower for companies, so you’re more likely to get through to the decision maker by phone. You can get more insight about what the company is really looking for in a job candidate (sometimes what the job description doesn’t mention), and you can forge a connection by putting a voice with a name that you only knew via email.
January hiring usually increases a bit, so even if a company isn’t hiring in November or December, you’ll be on your toes by staying up to date on the latest jobs all holiday season long. Your resume will be updated and you’ll know who’s hiring if you continue full-force through the holiday season.
What You Should Be Doing
Make the most of the holidays for networking opportunities. End of the year networking opportunities are abound – from neighborhood get togethers and year-end events for your kids’s school to company holiday parties and holiday networking events. You never know where you might meet your next job connection.
Talking about the holidays is a great way to put people at ease this time of year, whether you’re in a job interview or attending a professional function. Work to build relationships with people, not by announcing your availability and need for a job, but taking an opportunity to get to know them and show a genuine interest in building a relationship. Then follow-up by email or phone occasionally, and when they’re ready to hire, you’ll be top of mind.
You could also send holiday cards to anyone you’ve submitted a resume to or interviewed with recently. Include your business card and a personal note reminding them how you met. Don’t mention anything about the job; stick to holiday wishes.
I can’t believe Thanksgiving is already approaching! It’s the time of year when we sit back and reflect on our past year and all we have to be thankful for. Losing your job may be a devastating blow. As you contemplate life after getting the pink slip, look at what you have going for you…
Unemployment is not a death sentence. It may take some time to find your next position, but you will find it. Stay healthy and be thankful for the good health you and your family enjoy.
Losing your job can feel like someone pulled the rug out from under you. Thanks to the signing of the COBRA policy in 1985, all qualifying employers must provide health insurance coverage to those who have lost their job and their immediate families. COBRA allows for up to 18 months of health insurance coverage, which is something you can be thankful for.
Think of the 26 weeks of unemployment benefits you’re receiving as cushion. It might not be a comfy cushion, but having some money coming in is better than none at all.
Take Time for You
Work, Home, Work. Work never ends does it? Employers expect their employees to give 110 percent. Look at your job loss as a vacation from the 60-hour workweeks, tight deadlines, and endless meetings.
You’re out of the rat race. What now? Be grateful for time for yourself. Stay in pajamas. Sleep! Knit. Explore a new hobby. Volunteer. Finish the baby book you started eight years ago…when your child was still a baby!
Spend time with your family and friends. You’ll never get this time back, so enjoy your family while you extra time to do so.
Got time? Finding time to exercise when you were working may not have worked with long commutes, business travel, or overtime. Appreciate that you have time for exercise and fitness.
Gift of Time
When the initial shock of losing your job lessens, look at your life. Did you love your job? Or were you punching a clock? Take stock of what motivates you. Need a career change? Now is the time to explore your options. What is important to you in an employer? Allow yourself time to find the right job. Want to return to school? Be thankful you have time to re-invent yourself.
Hone your skills…beef up your resume, practice your interview skills, take a class. Be glad that you have the opportunity to make yourself more employable.
It Takes a Village
Be thankful for the people in your life who support you through hard times. Being unemployed isn’t easy, but with the emotional support of friends and family, the burden lessens.
Photo courtesy: MTsofar
It's that time of year when I'm U.S. bound for the holiday season. In about four hours, we'll be boarding the flight for the long awaited journey home. This year I've planned an extended trip with stops in Richmond, Virginia to see the family and three weeks in New York.
Ok, I know what you're thinking, why would I think about giving up a month of beautiful Buenos Aires summer days for freezing cold NYC winters?
I can hardly wait. I'm especially looking forward to finally meet so many of you with whom I communicate daily, but have yet to meet in person. So if you are in NY, please let me know. I'll be there from December 28th through January 20th.
I hope you have a wonderful holiday. Enjoy!