Contrary to popular belief, December is one of the best times to be job hunting! It’s the only perception that might make you think that hiring slows down in December. Hiring managers and or decision-makers will be taking the month off for vacation. Or just mentally checking out while surfing the net (and hopefully reading this blog).
Trust me, no one in their right mind is “checking out” this year. Everyone is quietly freaking out about the state of the economy and wondering if the ax is going to fall. What does this mean for you? It means there are plenty of folks sitting in their offices working feverishly hard trying to be as productive and “indispensable” as possible. Great news for you, because all of these decision-makers would love to end their year on a really nigh note; i.e. finding that star performer who’s going to save their company from ruin and themselves from losing their job. (Okay, maybe not literally. But I promise you that underlying current is just floating under the surface this year.)
So here are my tips to make the most of your job search during this holiday season.
If you are jobless and hunting right now:
You have got to get into the game! You need to go to every association function that you can possibly find this month. If there are two events in one night, you need to HIT both. I also recommend looking for the Chamber of Commerce or similar functions nearby. You need to strike up conversations with everyone you see that night. The idea is to come across as a friendly, outgoing, and knowledgeable expert in your field. And you have got to have business cards to take with you, and you HAVE to get business cards from the folks you speak to so that you’ll be able to follow-up on those conversations come January 2nd.
I’m here to tell you that if you have one free/empty night this week – YOU ARE SLACKING. If you can’t find a business-related association event to go to one night, get creative. Look for philanthropic volunteer-related events you can attend. Of course, I’m not recommending spending tons of money on any of this. But you should be able to find networking functions for a very reasonable price (many association functions are free for members). I do not recommend wasting your time at “job seeker networking events” this month unless you’re in a complete pinch to find an event to go to that evening. These are usually a bunch of other people out of work just like you. How are these folks going to help you get into contact with decision-makers? I would only suggest going if you are sure that recruiters or hiring businesses will be in attendance as well.
Your job, until you get one that hands you a paycheck, is to be looking for work. If you can’t get in to meet with an HR manager, recruiter, or hiring professional right now because someone actually is actually taking vacation time, then set up appointments for the first week of January. Take someone from your local association group to coffee – ostensibly to catch up, but really to pick their brain about what’s happening and who’s hiring in your industry.
If you’re receiving a paycheck right now:
Count your many blessings. AND GO TO THE OFFICE HOLIDAY PARTY. Use this time to chat up the powers that be. The work party is also a great time to, without a$$kissing, strike up a conversation with a boss-type and compliment them on something they did throughout the year. The idea is to be the guy/gal whose name pops in their mind when that new project begins in January and they are looking for people to work on it.
Remember, that most folks think they don’t want to talk about work during an office party. A compliment is a nice low-key way to be friendly and open and nice, without looking desperate and pathetic. Build the relationship, so you’ll be able to go to them in January and work your way into their graces and into new and more responsibilities. And hey, even if you’re getting a paycheck, it’s important to attend any networking association meetings this season as well. So go back to the paragraphs above and re-read them.
Does everyone see the pattern emerging now? December is a “gift” for the networking individual. You’ve got low-pressure, ready-made, networking functions just waiting for you to attend. This month your goal is to build relationships with everyone you meet. You just never know who might be the gatekeeper to your dream job. You can’t sit back and wait for your dream job to come to you. It just won’t. So this month it’s time to dust off your fancy shoes and party like it’s almost 2009.