November 2015 Feature Story Issue 189
Holiday Season for Thanksgiving & Job Networking
Forget the popular misconception that the holidays are a dead time for job seekers. In fact, the season offers plenty of ways to keep your job search moving forward—especially some of the best chances to network you will find all year, according to a recent workplace column in The Wall Street Journal. And with the nation’s unemployment rate 5.1% it’s no wonder more career experts are telling job seekers to treat November / December like any other month, when it comes to job hunting.
One of our candidates is taking the advice very seriously. She’s scheduled to go to three parties, thus far, this month—one with friends from the gym, another Thanksgiving celebration with former colleagues, and a third at her financial planner’s home. A former senior systems analyst, she plans to tell people she meets that she’s out of work and looking for any help they can offer. On New Year’s Day, she will attend a holiday recovery parties that in the past she always skipped and make her pitch there as well.
“I’ve got to try to get out there and meet some different people to find work,” says another 45-year old job-seeker, who hopes to take further advantage of the holidays by adding even more events to her social calendar before the year is out. Clearly, she recognizes that networking is a powerful and important job-hunting technique.
At this point of the year, though, job seekers need to take a cautiously aggressive approach when networking. At holiday parties, for example, it’s best to act casual, since the setting is meant to be informal and festive, experts say. Most advise against bringing a resume, for instance.
“The holiday party is the perfect time to build rapport, and the pressure is off,” says Diane Darling, chief executive of Effective Networking Inc., a networking-consulting firm in Boston. Her primary piece of advice is to maintain a professional image while keeping the conversation informational. “It seems like small talk, but that’s how you get to know someone,” she told The Wall Street Journal. “And that’s how people get hired. She also recommended sending holiday cards to keep personal and business contacts fresh.
Kate Wendelton, president of Five O’Clock Club, a New York career-counseling and outplacement company, said it’s okay to ask for someone’s card at a holiday party, but you don’t want to start having a meeting with them right then. “If you give them a card, write on it something memorable from the conversation that you can reference in a follow-up letter,” she said.
Wendelton added that it is totally irrelevant to ask if someone has a job opening right now. But, she said, you will have an advantage if you meet a hiring manager in December, when many hiring budgets are being approved, prior to when jobs are even advertised.
During the holidays, people are also apt to be “smitten by the tone of the season” and to give more freely of their time, added Herb Rappaport, a professor of psychology at Temple University and author of the book Holiday Blues: Rediscovering the Art of Celebration.
A.J. Lawrence, for one, is hoping the holiday spirit will make his new networking scheme a success. He told the newspaper that on behalf of himself and about 100 other unemployed people who are friends and contacts, including many he has met online, he is sending out an electronic letter that begins, “Dear Santa, help me find a job….” It will be sent via online networking groups to several thousand other contacts, who can in turn click on an Internet link to provide industry resources or offer other assistance.
The 33-year old Lawrence, a former business development director at a New York consulting company, says he got the idea when he was joking with his girlfriend and asked, “Am I too old to send a ‘Dear Santa” letter?” The answer: obviously not.
To help job seekers further in their December networking activities, here are some other tips on how to make contacts at holiday parties, according to The Wall Street Journal article:
- Dress appropriately. No flashing holiday ties or novelty antlers. Remembering that some events are formal, find out what’s appropriate to wear so you can make a good impression.
- Don’t drink too much. Is there alcohol in that eggnog? Just to be sure, go easy. Maintain a professional presence at all times, despite the temptation to cut loose at a holiday party.
- Know how to introduce yourself. Even if you’re having a blue Christmas, depict your situation in an upbeat manner that’s in keeping with the holiday cheer.
- Keep the conversation casual. You’re not going to cut a deal at a holiday party. Instead, offer to exchange business cards and continue the conversation later.
Good luck and happy holidays!
News from BLK
During this Thanksgiving Holiday let us remember the millions of good folks who continue to be adversely affected by our unemployment numbers.
Over the past decades the personal painful histories that we have witnessed, due to no job or meaningful work, continues to be heart wrenching for all of us in the employment profession.
As president of our organization I assure you that we will continue our free community out-reach programs to assist all “job-seekers” with their efforts to gain solid employment. Since beginning these program 7 years ago over 40,000 individuals have participated. My wish is by Thanksgiving 2016 that the need for this service will decrease to zero.
During this month of thanks, I encourage each of you as professionals to lend a hand, take a phone call, review a resume, coach an interview or pass on some advice to a challenged “job-seeker”.
We at Berman Larson Kane continue to thank each of you for your business support during our thirty-five year history. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday and take a moment to please be thankful for your job.