Have Yourself a Merry Little Career Search

by Casey Brown ’14

Network? Over the holidays?  It might not go together like a hand in a fleece mitten.

bigstock_Icy_Winter_Snowflake_4062480 editedFamily and contacts.
Community and professional network.
Holidays, vacation, downtime AND job search, job search, job search?

But here’s the secret: the holidays may just be your best bet for finding professional success. Here are some tips to help you reach your ambitions—with a warm heart and full of holiday cheer, that is.

Step One: Networking over eggnog

When it comes to the perfect recipe for job satisfaction, there’s a lot of evidence that it goes something like this: doing what you love with people you trust. In 2012 the Society for Human Resource Management released a study on job satisfaction. Of all the many aspects affecting job satisfaction, the top contributor was “opportunities to use skills and abilities.” In other words, the dream job. Also in the top five were two factors all about relationships: communication with senior management and relationships with supervisors. You might call this working with good people.

Doing what you love. With good people. And the first step might just be holiday parties.

Family, friends, your family’s friends, friends of family friends, you’re friend’s second cousin once removed. Sounds like a recipe for holiday cheer. Also sounds like good people that more than likely have an interest in helping you do what you love.

Step Two: When to say “No-No-No” to Networking

The good news about holiday networking? You don’t have to bring your resume to a cookie swap. In fact, don’t. No one wants to pass out a dozen chocolate chip and end up with a dozen Curriculum Vitae. Instead, come prepared to meet and greet—and know how and when to introduce your professional aspirations into the conversation.

Step Three: ’Tis the Season to be Connecting with Employers and Alumni

If you’ve been looking to reach out to an employer, alumni, or contact, the holidays might just be the perfect time. Generally, hiring managers are less likely to travel during the holidays or work on time-consuming projects. And how many people are spending their holidays focusing on the job search? You can bet fewer than during the rest of the year.

Step Four: However, Have Yourself a Merry Little Common Sense

You know what’s worse than the cat climbing up a tree full of ornaments, knocking it over, and shattering the clay star you make for your grandmother in preschool?

Sending someone a career-related email on a holiday. New Years Eve, New Years, Christmas Eve and Day, Hanukkah, Kwanza, and all other holidays around the season are not days to send an email or make a phone call. Take a breather, roast some chestnuts, or build a snowman instead.

Step Five: But Do Send Holiday Cards

If you’ve had informational interviews recently, now is the perfect time to commemorate your visit—and the holidays with a card. It doesn’t hurt to slip in a line or two acknowledging you’re in the job search. And, of course, don’t forget sending cards to friends and family! Not only is that a vital part of your holiday season, as mentioned above, they’re also your most organic professional network.

Step Six: Don We Now Our Updated LinkedIn Profiles

For one, that high school picture has got to go! Choose a new one, update job information, and add new skills. Now is the time to try to complete your profile and make it a strong representation of what you have to offer a potential employer. Make your profile even more visually appealing by uploading projects, videos, and presentations.

But more generally, this is your time to take that career-advancing step that you’ve been putting off.  Oh, so you have some free time? How about a freelance job? Photographers, artists, and writers, the time is nigh!

Interested in social justice? Find a temporary volunteer position in your community. The holidays are a busy time for service organizations, so lending a helping hand at local justice centers or nonprofits can be especially important.

Social media guru? How about spending some time connecting with industry thought leaders on Twitter? Take advantage of this time to learn something new about your target industry—some interesting little factoid that you can slip into your next interview.

Step Seven: Be Merry

Most of all, don’t get discouraged! Break out the gingersnaps and take some holiday cheer to heart. That’s perhaps the best career boost you can’t get year-round.