Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Becoming Aware of December’s Challenges

By Alicia Pozsony

According to Amy Lundgren of Prototype Career Service, a career consulting firm in St. Paul, Minnesota, “December is perhaps the most challenging and the oddest of all months for job seekers. Not only do you deal with the distractions in your own life, including holiday preparations on an ever-shrinking budget, but you have to deal with the distractions in the lives of employers as well.

“You really shouldn’t drop your job search just because you think it won’t be fruitful. You can’t afford to lose that much time. In a search that lasts four or five months, skipping December is like adding 20 percent to your period of unemployment.” Therefore, remember the motivation strategies Lundgren offers: “People still need to get hired in December. Some companies would like to start the new year with their new employees in place, while others can’t wait until after the holidays to hire; and yet other companies are always hiring.

“To keep your momentum going and stick to your job search routine, you should be aware of your challenges for the month ahead. Your recruiting and hiring personnel will have either relaxed or hectic schedules depending on the product or service your company provides. Routine meetings are sometimes replaced with holiday events, and some companies are even closed, while others give employees unpaid time off.” Therefore, being able to adapt is your number one guideline this month.

Lundgren’s tips include the following, which I hope you find helpful.

* Attend parties and networking events, including bank open houses, association meetings, and friends’ office parties. Take advantage of opportunities for such business socializing.
* Greet contacts with a holiday card by licking envelopes that enclose actual paper cards. An e-mail greeting will not suffice, because in this case, you’re trying to make a lasting impression.
* Send out résumés until the 15th; then take a two-week break if you think your materials might get lost in the holiday shuffle.
* Ask a trusted adviser to review your job search. Look for weak areas to strengthen, and create new ideas to try out in the coming year.
* Catch up on research in your industry, and plan ways to use the new data.
* Fill your schedule for January with meetings and with connecting with networking contacts.
* Plan something for every weekday for the first two weeks of the year, to hit the ground running.

Lundgren says, “The most important thing you can do in December is to review your job search timeline. Don’t go into the new year wondering when you’ll be reemployed. Instead, set a date and work backward from it to develop your schedule of steps. The earlier the date you set, the more aggressive your job search will have to be, so use these December weeks to set the stage.”

So, take a deep breath, and while enjoying your eggnog or hot cocoa, reflect on what a great job you’ve been doing and the good things that are around the corner in the coming year 2010!

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