Tis the Season...
By: Mary Mulvihill Ed.D., Executive Director, Grace Institute
The holiday season is a time to celebrate traditions, spend time with family and friends, and, contrary to popular belief, it can also be a savvy time to search for a job.
Most people assume that the hiring process drops off during the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Consequently, many put off their job search until after the New Year. In reality, although things do slow down during this period, there are still job opportunities out there. With fewer people looking for work, you can position yourself to stay ahead of the pack. "It's analogous to looking for an apartment during a holiday like the Fourth of July," says Jolene Varley Handy, Director of Career Services at Grace Institute, a nonprofit business and computer training school for women. "There's less competition and you can take advantage of those new job opportunities that pop up while everyone else is distracted by the holidays," says Handy.
While it's important to take some time off to enjoy the holidays, you don't want to lose your momentum and disconnect yourself from the job search. Continue the same rhythms as if you were still working. It's much harder to get back in to a search routine if you've dropped out of the process for several weeks. Besides, the year end is a time when many companies are putting in to place and finalizing their budgets. Employers and hiring managers will be active in filling their position rosters for the following year. You want to make sure that your resume and cover letter are one the first applications employers receive.
You can also take advantage of seasonal and temporary openings in the meantime. Although there are not as many retail positions this year as in the past, stores will still need some extra workers around the holidays. January is also a time when retailers are doing inventory, so seasonal opportunities could carry over as well. Temp agencies will be on the lookout for applicants to fill in for employees taking time off before, during, and after the holidays. Short-term positions such as these are a great way to keep skills sharp and fill in resume gaps and could even lead to something permanent.
It's also a good time of year to take stock of your career goals and current skills. Take advantage of some of this downtime to visit libraries and career centers and see what types of free job-training programs they are offering. This will give you the chance to brush up on skills like typing or proofreading or master a new software application.
Finally, the holiday season abounds with parties and get-togethers which can be great for networking. Seize on these opportunities to reconnect with former colleagues and to build new relationships. "Unlike in the past, we are all in this recession together and everyone is talking about the difficulties," says Handy. "You need to take every opportunity to get out there and meet with people rather than isolating yourself." Ask if you can give that person a call after the holidays to discuss any possible job leads and get business cards made up to give out to those you meet.
Wishing you a happy, hopeful holiday season and a successful job search!
Mary Mulvihill Ed.D.
Executive Director, Grace Institute
For over 100 years, Grace Institute has provided tuition-free, practical job training in a supportive learning community for underserved New York area women of all ages and from many different backgrounds. In the tradition of its founding family, Grace is dedicated to the development of the personal and business skills necessary for self-sufficiency, employability and an improved quality of life.