December 13, 2012
Use the holidays to boost your career
Little-known fact: The holidays are a golden opportunity to give a boost to your career. Why? It's primo networking time!
All you have to do is do a little more of what you're probably already doing. For example:
Go to the annual workplace party. This is the time of year the powers that be are likely at their most kindly and their most accessible. So introduce yourself, make small talk, get your name and face out there.
Send cards. During the holidays, reminding the world of your existence is natural and seemly. Whether you opt for Christmas cards, New Year's cards, printed holiday letters or an e-newsletter, now is an ideal time to connect and reconnect. Keep it tasteful and sincere.
Volunteer. It's true -- you really can do well by doing good. Volunteering is a stellar way to expand your network. Give it a try. You might also learn a new skill, discover a new field or just meet new friends you enjoy spending time with.
Have a master plan. Want to transfer to, say, the sales department? Go to your office party ready to introduce yourself to the sales staff and, ideally, the sales manager. Or maybe you're interested in switching careers entirely. Put out feelers at your neighborhood get-together, your church social, your kid's school play. You never know whom you'll meet.
Recharge your batteries. Use some of those extra days off for some "you" time. Get the sleep you need. Look for healthy ways to deal with holiday stress (like, for example, some exercise). Take long walks; talk with your mentors; read inspirational books. You will be relaxed, refreshed and ready to hit the ground running come January.
Finally, if you're looking for a job, remember that competition tends to be at its lowest during the holidays. Many job hunters call it quits in December, deciding to wait till January. This is your cue to ramp up your own search.
It's not true that companies don't hire during the holidays; they do. The very best time to reach out? Between Christmas and New Year's. Hiring managers may even be answering their own phones during that week.
Focusing on your career -- while everyone else is figuring out ways to leave work early to get to the mall -- may be the best present you ever gave yourself.
Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl: Real-Life Career Advice You Can Actually Use. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl, a career guide based on her 59 jobs over 40 years in 22 cities.
Kristen Fife is a senior recruiter, career mentor, blogger and resume consultant based in the Seattle area.
Lisa Quast is a certified career coach, mentor, business consultant, former corporate executive and author based in the Seattle area.
Randy Woods writes about job-search tools, networking techniques and other tips to help you land your dream job.
Matt Youngquist is the president of Career Horizons, a career counseling firm.
Natalie Singer is a Seattle writer, editor and small-business owner.
Michelle Goodman is the author of "My So-Called Freelance Life" and "The Anti 9-to-5 Guide."
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