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August 20, 2017

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Take advantage of holiday time to step up your job hunting efforts

Dear Joan:

I am very fed up with my current employment situation and I'm ready to make a move. The problem is that everyone I talk to suggests that with the holidays coming up I'd be better off if I waited until the New Year to begin my job search. Are they right? Is there anything I can do in the meantime that would prepare me for launching my job hunt?

Answer:

Contrary to popular belief, I think the holidays can be one of the best times to look for a job. It's understandable that people would reason that it's a busy time of year and companies probably wouldn't be filling positions, but quite the opposite can be true.

For many companies the budgeting process is finished by November and decisions have been made about the positions to fill in the New Year. Because the money isn't available until January, managers who are eager to get a head start on finding good job candidates are busy networking to find out who's available. If you step up your networking efforts you may be pleasantly surprised to find a number of jobs that haven't even been advertised yet.

Another advantage of networking now is that people have more downtime to meet with you. Although our personal lives are hectic, our work lives tend to slow down in many businesses. There are fewer meetings scheduled because some people take vacations or personal time off and consequently, calendars are often free. This is especially true during Thanksgiving week, Christmas week and the week between Christmas and New Year's Eve. Many people take vacations at other times and choose to use this quiet time to get caught up.

The holiday spirit also works to your advantage. People are in a giving mood and they are more willing to lend a hand and give advice to someone who asks for their help and that's what networking is all about.

The holiday party scene is a great time to rub shoulders with people who may be able to give you contacts and information. Attend holiday parties with a mission in mind. Bring lots of business cards and bring up your job hunt in conversation. Stand near the bar or buffet so you're in position to meet the most people and able to gracefully break away from a conversation to meet new people. If you're serious about using this forum to make contacts, don't drink--every conversation is a potential interview. And consider attending alone. If you bring a date or spouse you won't be able to move around purposefully to talk to people.

Another holiday tradition that can help you is sending Christmas cards. In addition to friends, send them to colleagues with a note about your job search. Tell them you'll follow up with a call to see if they can give you any contacts. Another approach is to suggest a meeting to share some holiday cheer and do some networking while you're at it. In fact, I know some friends who get together every year at Christmas to assess their careers and talk about their plans for the new year.

Taking personal time off to network and interview is easier during the holidays. Your boss isn't likely to question your motives if you ask to leave early and won't be suspicious about what you're doing with your time off.

Finally, you'll have the edge because there won't be as much competition. Many people abandon their job hunting during the holidays because they believe it's a waste of time. If you step up your efforts, you may find yourself in a new job before the ink is dry on your New Year's resolution.

- Joan Lloyd

Do you need answers to tough job hunting questions? Are you looking for some added punch to help you stand out from the crowd? Joan Lloyd’s has developed job hunting tools that can help you to maximize your job search:

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