For some the holiday season is far from jolly because they have just learned that their position has been eliminated or reorganized. Being out of work at the holidays can certainly dampen one’s spirits but it can be the perfect time of year to jumpstart your job search. While it is tempting to take the month off to “lick your wounds,” it is more productive to lay the foundation for a successful job search.
Prepare Your Tools
You need to be prepared for your job search journey so take advantage of the opportunity to update your tools. Review and update your resume. Ask others for feedback. Practice writing cover letters for positions you may be interested in to get back in the groove. If you do not have a Linked In profile build one, if you have one, update it. Focus on putting your best professional foot forward.
Define Your Plan
You need a plan. Identify the companies the fit your key criteria – industry, size, geography, etc. Research the companies you are most interested in to learn more about their financials, plans, competitors, challenges, etc. Review your network to identify contacts in those organizations. Review their recent postings to see if there have been positions that interest you and review their qualifications for those roles.
Network Like Crazy
For many professionals, there is some quieter time at work around the holidays. Unless they are closing the books for the year or involved in a significant time constrained project, this is an easier time of year to get on someone’s calendar for an informational interview. Take advantage of this to network like crazy. Talk to as many people as you can in your target companies to learn more about the companies, their hiring practices and the skills sets they seek. Talk to people in the roles that interest you.
Use your social gatherings during the holiday season to learn more about where people work and what they do so you can identify targets for additional informational interviews. This is the perfect time of year to expand your network. Be sure friends and family members know you are seeking a job and help them understand the types of companies and roles you are seeking. They may have contacts who can help. You will never know that their next door neighbor works at your top company if you don’t ask!
Maintain and leverage your current network by reaching out to people you may have worked with in the past to let them know you are back in the job market. They can offer suggestions, advice and valuable connections as well. You are not in this alone – leverage your resources.
Most professional associations have social events at this time of year. Identify appropriate groups for your profession and attend an event or two to meet others in your field.
While it may feel that this is the worst possible time of year to be out of work, there is a silver lining. Many companies are on calendar year budgets and with the start of the new year they often have new headcount in the budget. There is typically a surge of hiring activity in the first quarter. To take full advantage of that, prepare your tools and build your network now so you are poised for success in the new year.
A productive December of research, planning and networking could position you for great success in January when positions open up.