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Don't Sing the Holiday Blues: A Six-Step Guide to Successful Job-Hunting Between Thanksgiving and New Year's
by Randall S. Hansen, Ph.D.

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With apologies to the great lyricists, are you Dreaming of a Job for Christmas? Is All You Want for Christmas is a Job? Job-Huntin' Around the Christmas Tree? There's No Place Like a Job for the Holidays? Deck the Halls with Job Offers?

The holidays. Those weeks stretching from about the third week in November and spilling over into the new year. Love them or loathe them, they come around every year, and often signal the end of many job seekers' pursuits of new jobs until the new year begins in January.

But don't let this holiday season slow your job-search one bit. While it might seem counter-intuitive to job-hunt during a time when many people have anything but work on their minds, it turns out that one of the great secrets of job-hunting is that the time between Thanksgiving and New Year's is a great opportunity to search for a new job. While you may not have that job offer in hand before the holidays are over, if you follow the advice in this article, you will be well on your way to landing a new job shortly into the new year.

So, while many other job-seekers use the excuse of the holidays to take a break from job-hunting, now is the time to step up your efforts and gain a competitive advantage in your quest for a new job. Now is the time to strengthen your network of contacts, uncover new job leads, and seek out job interviews.

Follow this six-step guide to staying active in the job market during the holidays.

Step One: Use holiday get-togethers with family and friends to seek out job leads. The people closest to you have your best interests at heart, and if you allow them, will assist you in uncovering potential leads to new jobs. Don't expect them to be able to hire you, but do be as honest as possible about your current situation and the type of job you seek. Acting as your agents, they might surprise you with the job leads they uncover for you.

Step Two: Volunteer your time. So many organizations need help during the holidays, and while giving up time you could be spending job-hunting seems counter-productive, the contacts you meet while providing your time and expertise could certainly lead to new and unexpected job leads. And in the end, if your volunteering leads to nothing more than the fulfillment of helping others worse off than you, then you still made good use of your time. (But do remember to network with the people volunteering around you. Job-seekers and career experts surveyed for the networking book, A Foot in the Door, ranked volunteering among the top networking methods, second only to belonging to professional organizations.)

Step Three: Attend all professional holiday events -- and bring along networking cards and copies of your resume. While holiday office parties and other events typically are not focused on work-related issues, people are generally in a good mood -- which makes these quasi social gatherings the perfect place to refresh and grow your network of contacts.

Step Four: Send out holiday cards. A great way during the holidays to follow up with recruiters and hiring managers, as well as reconnect with more distant network contacts (including former bosses, co-workers, customers, and suppliers), is sending simple and tasteful holiday cards. Include a short hand-written (personalized) note, along with your networking card. Remember political correctness here -- just send holiday cards, not Christmas cards.

Step Five: Renew your follow-up efforts for job interviews. For jobs in which you have already submitted your resume, intensify your efforts to land an interview. While it's true that many businesses slow down during the five or six weeks between Thanksgiving and New Year's, the vast majority of hiring managers do not take the entire time off. Focus your efforts on the first two weeks in December -- they can be prime times to land a job interview.

Step Six: Lay the groundwork for a new year job-search surge. Use the slower pace of the holidays to examine every part of your job-search plan, including elements such as your system for finding job leads, your networking strategy, your marketing tools (including your resume, cover letter, branding), interviewing skills, and follow-up techniques. Take the time to also build your brand while expanding your online networking. The more preparation you do now, the more prepared you'll be for additional opportunities in the new year.

The holidays can be a time of distraction and depression for many job-seekers, especially if you are desperate for a new job. In reality, the weeks between Thanksgiving and New Year's can be a great time to find a new job -- or at the very least, lay the foundation for a new job shortly after the holidays end. While many other job-seekers may pack up their job search, if you are serious about finding a new job, do the opposite and intensify your efforts using the six steps in this article.

Dr. Randall S. Hansen is founder of Quintessential Careers, one of the oldest and most comprehensive career development sites on the Web, as well CEO of EmpoweringSites.com. He is also founder of MyCollegeSuccessStory.com and EnhanceMyVocabulary.com. He is publisher of Quintessential Careers Press, including the Quintessential Careers electronic newsletter, QuintZine. Dr. Hansen is also a published author, with several books, chapters in books, and hundreds of articles. He's often quoted in the media and conducts empowering workshops around the country. Finally, Dr. Hansen is also an educator, having taught at the college level for more than 15 years. Visit his personal Website or reach him by email at randall(at)quintcareers.com.

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