Tips for Job Searching During the Holiday Season

networking event

The holidays are a great time to network. It's a time to participate in the festive activities of the season, including family, social, and community events, as well as functions of religious organizations, and professional and trade associations. During the holidays the mood of networking can often feel lighter, more cheerful and less serious than some of the self-conscience outreach that can characterize networking. It is often a more natural reconnecting with people you have known over the years.

Many charities have fund raisers and events during the holidays. The boards of many charities are populated by corporate leaders. These events can be pricey, so choose them wisely. You can readily get the names of those on the board of directors of charities by obtaining the annual report from the organization or by going to nccs.urban.org, then click on "databases."

The December meetings of most professional associations are generally more social than meetings in other months. These meetings have a "glad to see you" camaraderie. Some professional associations will have their December meeting in a bar or restaurant. The holidays offer a great opportunity to meet with people you have not seen for awhile.

In addition to trade and professional associations, “meetups” are a great way to connect with people. There are now 100,000 meetups worldwide. Since no meetup is more than 15 years old, these can tend to be less formal and more dynamic than other organizations. Go to www.meetup.com, search by zip code and industry, function or area of interest to find a meetup that is right for you.

The budget planning that goes on in Q4 can overlap with your holiday networking. The networking that happens in December could result in a position being created for you for when the company is ready to hire. There are also situations where a project needs to be completed before the end of the fiscal year by someone on a project basis, even if there is a head count freeze. A manager might want to fill a position before the end of the fiscal year to rationalize the need to continue that position the following year.

Holiday cards are always appropriate ways of staying in touch with people you have not had contact with for recently. So many traditions are commemorated in December—such as Christmas, Hanukah, Kwanza, and New Year's—all the more reason to send a non-denominational card with a winter scene. They can be print (with return addresses), e-cards, or email with an appropriate graphic. What is not as effective: a mass e-mail sent on the eve of a holiday with an obviously last-minute two-word “Happy Holidays” message. This could be perceived as a last-minute effort executed without a lot of thought.

No need to write about being out of work—just "Happy Holidays, Best Wishes for the New Year.” People use the holidays to contact people they have not been in touch with for a long time. Just a simple card can rekindle a friendship. In addition to family and friends, consider former colleagues, classmates, vendors and clients (where appropriate), as well as recruiters, when sending cards this time of the year.

The timing of follow-up should be different during the holidays. You don’t want someone coming back from a 10-day vacation with three emails from you in their inbox. Once we get to the second week of December, I recommend spreading out your follow-up to about once every 10-14 days, unless there is a sense that they will be making decisions or want you to be in touch more frequently.

Volunteering has always been a good way to structure time for people in job search, to meet other professionals and to do purposeful activity that could be especially meaningful. Such activity is even more relevant during the holidays. Two hours of volunteering each week could be a good outlet and would be appreciated by charities at this time. A resource to find volunteer opportunities is www.guidestar.com—the compendium of non-profits. You can search for non-profits by location and by what they do.

Don't be tempted to put your job search on hold over the holidays. January and February are two of the best months for hiring. So take full advantage of the great opportunities to reconnect and leverage your network to uncover job opportunities.

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