Savvy job-seekers might know how to write resumes and cover letters, but few are aware of this surprising fact: Contrary to popular belief, December is actually the best time of year to look for work!
There are two compelling reasons why this is true--
#1 Competition levels drop dramatically. The majority of job-seekers figure that the holidays are a waste of time and make only marginal efforts to search for a new position. But their unfortunate mistake can turn into your big advantage because...
#2 Hiring takes off in the New Year. Although interviewing for full-time employees takes a dip in December, the months of January and February typically generate the strongest hiring period of the year. Organizations kick-off new projects and initiatives, budgets are put into place and additional staff is required to carry out the company's plans.
Accordingly, if you take full advantage of the opportunities that the holidays have to offer, you may well find yourself as a sought after candidate--one who's first in line to be interviewed in early January. To ensure you are making the most of this special time of year, here are three holiday practices you will want to adopt:
Practice the art of seasonal schmoozing. The holidays are filled with parties, gatherings, and community events. These are all prime opportunities to mix, mingle and share your story. Be certain, however, that you don't dampen the festivities by trying too hard. Resist the temptation to deliver a rehearsed elevator speech unless you are attending a formal industry event where such introductions would be commonplace. Even then, make sure you judge the mood of the merrymakers before you come across as too stiff or businesslike.
At informal gatherings, a light touch is always best. When asked what you do, you can reply with a snappy one-liner that will pique your listeners' interest. For example, a department store buyer used this playful response when asked about her career, "I shop with other people's money." (You can bet ears perked up with that one!) Once the buyer had the attention of her audience, she then continued with a lengthier description of her skills, experience and job search goals.
Reconnect with old contacts. Holiday cards and folksy letters are not only welcomed, they're expected. Done correctly, they can be a great way of securing new leads and opportunities. After sharing the latest news about your family, you can mention your job search and add a few of the companies you are targeting. Then in a low-key manner, you can let your friends know that you'd appreciate any suggestions or contacts they might have.
You can also send holiday greetings to recruiters you've worked with in the past, reconnect and update them on your search. Recruiters are busy people and can easily forget candidates. So your greeting may well put you at the top of their minds in a favorable light. And, if you are very lucky, they might have the ideal job cross their desk just as your greeting appears in their inbox.
Network in new and innovative ways. Volunteering, seasonal hiring, and all sorts of opportunities present themselves for moving beyond your immediate circle of contacts. Pursue as many of these as you can that will comfortably allow you time for other holiday networking activities. You never know whom you might meet and where such opportunities may lead.
Most of all, remember that your goal is to take full advantage of the serendipity and good will that abounds in December. Join in the seasonal festivities, celebrate with your career goals in mind and anticipate that success may be only weeks away. You just might find yourself ringing in 2015 with a brand new job. And that's a pretty great way to start off the New Year... with a big thanks to the holiday spirit!
Mary Eileen Williams is a Nationally Board Certified Career Counselor with a Master's Degree in Career Development and twenty years' experience assisting midlife jobseekers to achieve satisfying careers. Her book, Land the Job You Love: 10 Surefire Strategies for Jobseekers Over 50, is a step-by-step guide that shows you how you can turn your age into an advantage and brand yourself for success. Updated in 2014, it's packed with even more critical information aimed at providing mature applicants with the tools they need to gain the edge over the competition and successfully navigate the modern job market. Visit her website at Feisty Side of Fifty.com and celebrate your sassy side!