A common misconception says that because it’s the holidays, no one will pay attention to your résumé. In fact, even during times of high unemployment, when things slow down at the office there’s a golden opportunity for hiring to finally move to the front burner.
Throughout my career, both in corporate America and at my own firm, during several stretches of low national employment levels, I had openings during the holidays. And because regular business activity took a slight breather, managers like me had more time to devote to personnel matters, including hiring. Granted, this is not a time of “if you have a pulse and résumé, you’re in!” But you just might stand out among the crowd if you ignore your calendar.
Here are some pointers on leveraging the holidays in your job-search favor:
1. Ratchet Up Social Media. Everyone knows that sources such as LinkedIn (LNKD), Twitter, and Facebook are great for networking. But few people have enough time throughout the year to invest in maximizing them. Bingo! Use them during the holiday season. You can bet that, like you, many people are too attached to their computers, social networks, and smartphones to sit around and do nothing but “talk turkey” with relatives and friends for days on end in late November and December. It’s a potential job-search gold mine if you make the effort.
2. Party with a Professional Side. Don’t become a roaming spammer at holiday parties, but have your professional side well packaged just the same. What if you go to a holiday bash and run into the prospective boss of your best dream job ever? Wouldn’t it be great to be ready with an elevator pitch about yourself and your career goals? For exactly this reason, when you party, go easy on the eggnog and other alcoholic beverages and avoid dressing like Lady Gaga. And, of course, bring business cards, even if they only state your contact information and specialty.
3. Make the Call. E-mails are the most accepted way to reach out to a hiring manager. But think about picking up the phone during the holidays as well. You have a better chance of getting an answer around Thanksgiving and Christmastime, when business activities slow from their usual breakneck pace. But don’t pester the hiring manager: Just call once and see where it goes.
4. Be an Agent and Sleuth. During the holidays, you’re going to be out and about more than usual, shopping, running errands, and socializing. Use those opportunities not only to talk about yourself and your career needs and goals but also to ask questions about others. Networking is a two-way street whether online or offline. Find out how you can help other people. These contacts can also provide you with more information about companies than you’ll find online. Ask people about the corporate culture of firms you’re interested in. Who might you be working for? Is he or she what I call a Terrible Office Tyrant (TOT)? It is your job, after all, and also your job to choose wisely.
5. Business Casual Is Great … Once You’re Hired. When arranging a holiday-time interview, if you hear “Just dress casually, it’s a ghost town here, and I’ll be in jeans,” don’t be tempted. You get one time to make a first impression, so wear a blazer. It shows respect. Also, while everything may come across as easygoing during the holidays, still take your pad, take notes, and bring a hard copy of your résumé. And regardless of how chilly the weather, don’t waltz in carrying a Grande Caffe Latte.
6. Be Patient. When following up, know that although things may have progressed nicely during the interview, not enough people in the hierarchy will be around to complete the process. In a holiday job search, the process often continues “after the holidays.” Don’t count this as a setback—you’re already way ahead of the game.