5 Tips for Jump-starting Your Job Search Over the Holidays
There’s nothing like the holidays for some time off to relax. It’s a great time to forget about work and enjoy your friends and family. And holiday social events are always a welcome reprieve from the hustle and bustle of the work day.
Having a few days off is also a great time to pounce on your job search. I know, I know—you just want to eat some turkey and doze on the couch to the sweet sound of referee whistles. But a four-day weekend combined with access to friends and family you don’t see every day are the perfect ingredients for a productive job hunt. Check out some tips below.
Get Your Cheers On
I’m not sure about your local watering hole, but in my town, the neighborhood bar is a madhouse on Thanksgiving weekend, as everyone returns home from their out-of-town lives. And while you may be perfectly content snuggled up on your parents’ couch, the delicious smell of cookies wafting by, it’s time to throw that blanket to the ground, and head to the bar. Catching up with old friends and acquaintances may open doors you didn’t even realize exist. Listen to the kinds of work people are doing and schools they’re attending. It may spark some ideas for your own career path. And most importantly, share your own job interests. Someone may have an aunt in the biz or may know someone who knows someone who could give you an informational interview. Even better, an old neighborhood friend may work at the company of your dreams and can pass your resume along. You won’t know unless you ditch the snuggie and go.
Have Some Pie a la Networking
We all have those crabby relatives with opinions about everything, especially during the holidays when the libations are flowing. It probably makes you less likely to want to share your job search plans. As difficult as it is, you need to ignore the grinches, and put yourself out there. Share your career goals and ask if anyone has any advice on potential employers or a connection that may be helpful. If one of your friends or relatives is in the field you want to pursue, share some pie and talk about what it’s like to work in the industry and what they wished they had known when they were on the job hunt like you are. It’s not every day you get all of these people in one room, so take advantage.
Carve Up your Resume
Some people are thinking about carving the turkey, but you should be thinking about how to rip apart your resume. Over the next two days, check out some resume tips and review your own resume draft. See how you can improve it to make it more dynamic, and then proofread until your eyes can’t bear to see another comma. Why in the world would you polish your resume now instead of googling recipes for homemade cranberry sauce? Because you may find the networking opportunity of a lifetime while you’re slicing the bird. And if that person asks to see your resume or agrees to review it for you, you don’t want to wait two weeks to send it. Get your resume ready now, so that in the days following the holiday, you can pass it along while your conversation is fresh in the recipient’s head.
The holidays are for gathering together with your family and friends. But if you’re on the job search, they’re also the perfect opportunity for you to gather job resources. I’m not saying to blow off the holiday or ignore your loved ones. But you’ve got a four-day weekend ahead of you—set aside some time and focus on the hunt. Scour job boards for potential positions, make a list of your top choices, and begin researching. Pull together the information that you need to write an informed cover letter for each option. And search through your contacts to see if they have any affiliations or contacts with any of your top employers.
Don't just look outside, however; focus on your own personal brand and gather the information you need to make it stand out. Employers will undoubtedly look at your social media presence when you apply to them. Consider your latest experiences, skills, and educational accomplishments, and figure out how to weave them into a compelling personal brand on social media. Use this free time to put in some legwork so that you’re prepared to crank out some applications.
Find Your Deal
Bargain shoppers may be jumping in their cars late on Thursday to score some big retail deals. And by all means, if you want to get crazy with some coupons, who am I to stop you? But when you’re done fighting for a new flat screen, take some time to reflect on what you want in your career. In other words, what’s your career deal? The holidays are a great time to mull over big questions like this especially given the amount of social interaction and input you receive. Consider the conversations you’ve had with friends and family, think about how you’ve described your goals to them, and narrow down what exactly you want. Think about the location you want to be in, the type of industries you’re open to, and what you want your job to look like (e.g., Are you okay burning the midnight oil, or do you want steady hours; Are you hoping for a big team or a more intimate office; Are you willing to do some junior-level tasks, or will you only accept a senior role). While you may feel like you’ve been contemplating your career nonstop, taking time to really focus on it, without anything else getting in the way, can be hugely helpful. Also, if you have the opportunity to be with close family and friends, talking through these big questions—rather than shooting quick texts and emails like you usually do—can be eye opening. They may provide perspectives you hadn’t even considered.
Enjoy the holiday!