Every job searcher experiences seasonal dead spots: when not much is happening on the job front. You’ll notice dead zones in mid-July or early August. November and December are similar.
However, while the visible job market sleeps, the hidden job market thrives. Any serious job searcher should be fully focused at this time of year.
OK, so in job search programs, we are always telling you to always dig in to the hidden job market. Most people are finding great jobs through networking and directly contacting companies year round. But in November and December, you have a completely natural advantage: culturally, Christmas and New Year’s are near. This means parties, events and general good will. People are also getting in touch with others they haven’t contacted in a long time. Those so-called blue moon contacts are often amazing leads to jobs. Here’s how to join the networking action:
1) Accept absolutely every invitation to go out and connect with others. I don’t care if you feel tired or depressed. Everyone does at this time of year. Get yourself together, spiff yourself up and have coffee, accompany a friend to her office party, visit the relatives, whatever. Socialize!
2) Once you’re out, talk about your job search and your hopes for the New Year. Don’t be shy about your project. Say what you’re looking for and be clear. Not, “I’m looking for any old job that will put some food on my table.” No! Try, “I’m looking for a position in <field> where I can use my <type of> skills.” For instance, “I’m looking for a position in marketing where I can use my graphic design skills.
3) Give others a chance to share their hopes for the New Year too. This isn’t only your chance to network. Listen to the hopes of others too. There is a very good chance that someone else needs your help. Remembering that you have resources to help others will keep you from feeling needy. We normally feel a lot more happiness from helping others than we do from being helped ourselves, so give yourself a happiness present.
4) Take the initiative to connect with old friends. It doesn’t matter if your contacts are near or far. Connect with as many people as you can. Send cards or emails to friends far away. You might invite your former soccer team members to get together for a Christmas drink. You could organize a party involving everyone from your spring English class. Catch up with people you haven’t seen for awhile.
5) Set a goal for meeting new people and record their names. How many new people can you meet this Christmas season? Set a goal for yourself. Maybe it will be 10, or 20 or three. Regardless, there are multiple opportunities surrounding the festive season. As you wait to pick up your child from preschool, ask another parent about his/her holiday plans. Consider talking with them again in the New Year. They may have job leads for you. Or you may be able to help them.
6) Be open but don’t expect a job from your Christmas networking. If you set up an expectation that is too high, you’ll be nervous and later disappointed. Think of your networking as meeting and developing your community. Networking is about bettering your whole life; your job search is one part of it.
Amidst all the networking friendliness, though, be sure to keep yourself safe. While you need to meet new people, you may get some romantic attention that you don’t want. The holiday season sometimes makes people brave and alcohol can mess with their judgment. Be clear that you are focused on your career and/or family but smile and network!
About the Author: Gwen Pawlikowski is a freelance writer and entrepreneur who has also worked as an ISSofBC employment counsellor with newcomers. She lives in New Westminster and loves the diversity of the Lower Mainland. Please click here for information on ISSofBC’s career services.