Lies They Tell Transitioning Veterans, Part 5: You Can’t Job Search During the Holidays
It is common for job searchers to listen to distracting and derailing inner voices or those of third parties who are ill-informed. A widespread misconception is that the work days around the holidays are a poor time to look for a job. Seekers will use this excuse to justify procrastination and inactivity during a time of year which might otherwise be an important time to make progress with one’s networking campaign. The fact is that the holidays are a great opportunity to gain access to the people you need to advance your search.
As you have no doubt heard but may not yet understand, networking is the key to a successful job search. By meeting people involved with organizations that may interest you, you acquire the connections, information and insight that you need to get closer to your next position. While it is true that many take vacations or days off during holiday periods, many more are manning their offices throughout the holidays.
Since access is key to successful networking, it is harder for employers’ personnel to claim they don’t have time to see you at a time of year when things traditionally slow down. Some spend their time attending holiday lunches, cleaning up files or updating personal computer software. All are in good moods and often feel reflective about the year that is almost over and the new year to come. This is why it is such a good time to schedule information interviews. It is hard for them to say no. Ebenezer Scrooge himself would find time for a job seeking veteran who was asking good questions about his company or industry!
Another advantage of holiday period networking is that employers will be impressed by your diligence and dedication. It is like encountering another runner during a rainy morning workout session. There is a certain mutual respect that immediately materializes between the job seeker and company employee. With this regard comes the desire to be more helpful and the networking target is more likely to dig deeply into her address book for other contacts that the seeker will need to meet.
Finally, taking full advantage of a leave period is a great way for a transitioning veteran to bridge the distance between their duty station and desired future home.
As with networking at any time of year, the job seeking veteran must prepare intelligently and diligently. This will include facility with a well-thought-out elevator pitch that describes who you are and what you seek to do. The veteran will dress appropriately even if the office visited is dressing casually for the holiday period. Finally, the veteran job seeker will follow all proper etiquette including thank you notes and offers to help the interviewer with his or her needs. A summary of the steps of networking can be found in an article I wrote for US News & World Report.
Be sure to reserve some holiday time for friends and family. By making best use of the work days before, during and after the holidays to network and research you will be closer to your career goal. This progress will in turn make you a much merrier soul under the tree or menorah.
By Peter Gudmundsson