Job-seekers over 50 are savvy to the ways of the world... but this might come as a surprise. Believe it or not the holidays are, without question, the best time of year to look for work!
At first glance this statement might seem crazy. After all, companies don't do much hiring at the end of the year. Yet there are at least five reasons why you should ramp up your efforts, take full advantage of all that December has to offer and be extra productive in your job search.
#1 Your competition levels plummet. The majority of job-seekers figure that the holidays are a waste of time and make only marginal efforts to look for work. Most applicants opt to relax, take a long winter's nap and gear back up in January. But their big mistake becomes your big advantage! With plentiful opportunities for socializing and networking and with your job search goals in mind, you can make scores of new contacts... any of whom might well lead to your next position.
#2 January and February represent the strongest hiring period of the year. New projects, initiatives, and budgets are put into place and hiring generally skyrockets at the beginning of the year. Although not every January can promise a boom in the marketplace, by actively networking and positioning yourself as a valuable and enthusiastic candidate, you'll be well on your way to getting that all important call for an interview at the start of the New Year.
#3 There's no better time of year to schmooze. Parties, gatherings and community events are prime opportunities to press the flesh and tell your story. Resist the temptation to deliver a rehearsed elevator speech unless you're attending a formal industry event where such introductions would be commonplace. Even then, be certain to judge the mood of the merrymakers before you come across as too stiff or businesslike.
Usually in such circumstances a lighter touch is best. When asked what you do, you might reply with an engaging one-liner that piques your listener's interest. For example, a department store buyer was known to respond with, "I shop with other people's money." And that snappy response got her listeners asking for more. She then delivered a lengthier description of her skills and experience to a willing and interested audience.
#4 Now is the perfect opportunity to reconnect with old contacts. Holiday cards and newsy 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 about your family, you can mention your job search and a few of the companies you're 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 even follow up when you meet them at various gatherings (again approaching the topic lightly) or contact them after the first of the year to see if they've got any ideas for you.
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're very lucky, they might have the ideal job cross their desk just as your greeting appears in their inbox.
#5 The holidays are a great time to enlarge your circle. Volunteering, seasonal hiring and all sorts of opportunities present themselves for moving out of your immediate circle of contacts. Take advantage of as many of these as you can while still allowing yourself time to pursue your other holiday networking activities. Who knows where such opportunities might lead?
So remember to take full advantage of this very special time of year. Serendipity abounds in December. Celebrate, present yourself with confidence and anticipate success... you just might find yourself ringing in the New Year with a brand new job!
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 2013, 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!