For professionals seeking employment at any level, the holidays shouldn’t be the time when you put your job search on hold till the next year. Many people have the attitude that “I’ll get started after the first of the year.” This outlook creates less competition for relatively the same number of positions.
Statistics provided by CareerBuilder.com show that job seekers slow down their search in December, but get back into gear in January creating almost 20% more unique searches with only a 5% increase in job posts than in December. Hiring authorities are scheduling interviews and making hiring plans for the New Year right now!
How about a holiday party?
For those of you out of work, this should be an opportunity to expand your network. People who are currently working are there to blow off steam, relax, and socialize, so you don’t want to be too aggressive, but take advantage of this time to meet new people to tap into for referrals.
Before you go:
When you RSVP, call the host/hostess instead of emailing and ask who else might be attending and if he/she knows where they work. Remember: knowledge is power- look up the other guests on LinkedIn and connect prior to the party. You can say in your LinkedIn invite, “looking forward to seeing you at so-and-so’s party next week. I’d like to add you to my LinkedIn network.”
In social situations reaching out to attendees in advance may open a door for a conversation you wouldn’t have otherwise had by gaining familiarity prior to meeting them in person. Being able to strike up a conversation quickly will set you apart from the other guests.
As with any networking, knowing your unique value proposition before you leave the house in your finest business-casual duds is important. Practice in the mirror before you go. Smile and take mints and business contact cards with you as well as pen and paper to write contact info and names.
While you’re there:
Most professionals don’t carry business cards with them in social settings so be prepared to offer yours and make sure you take notes of who to follow up with after the party.
Have fun and fit in. Having a glass of water between wines will keep you hydrated and ensure you’re not consuming too much alcohol to make a good first impression. Remember- the first impression is a lasting one so make sure you appear professional even in a casual, relaxed holiday setting. Eat prior to the party so you aren’t sidling up to a potential employer with a full mouth.
People like to talk about themselves so be prepared with a list of questions you can ask that could lead into work related conversation.
“So, how do you know the so and so’s?” or “How did you meet the so and so’s?”
Many times people are at parties and don’t know the hosts. You can move into
“Oh, well, I know them from XYZ. So, what kind of work do you do?”
People are often more inclined to help during the holiday giving season so there is no reason to wait until after the holidays to reach out and follow up with someone. Remember, if you link with them on LinkedIn, you can see their email addresses so you don’t have to ask for it. Sending your resume with a thoughtful cover letter about why you are interested in their company and asking for referrals is appropriate. If you don’t have the email address, send them a hard copy of your resume and cover letter via USPS Priority Mail.
Also make sure you send your host/hostess a thank you note by mail or email, whatever you prefer. You can mention your job search after thanking them for hosting such a great event and that you’d appreciate them forwarding your resume onto people as they see fit or to specific individuals you haven’t been able to reach personally.
Other places you can meet professionals during the holidays:
• Soup kitchen/homeless shelter Thanksgiving dinner service
• Canned food drives
• Coat drives
• Church events
• Toys for tots
For more info: Carolyn’s blog can be found at www.JobSearchJungle.com, for more information on executive coaching, sales, and recruiter training visit www.CarolynThompson.net.