How to Set (and Meet!) Job Search Goals During the Holidays
We’re already to the half-way mark of December, which means the holidays are already in full-swing. For job hunters, this period of time can be confusing to navigate as many companies change their hiring approach based on their end-of-year or Q1 needs. Though it is tempting to think this season call for a pause in your job search because many companies will not be hiring, it is actually an opportunity to get ahead of the game and stay ready for any opportunities that may come your way. Here are a few tips to keep in mind if you are job searching over the holiday season.
First, take time this month to relax and enjoy the formal break you will have from Bloom Institute of Technology (formerly known as Lambda School) in ways that energize you. But enjoying the break doesn’t mean you can’t be productive. The most effective way to maintain momentum in your job search during the holiday season is to set realistic goals that work with the frenzied pace of this time of year and won’t burn you out.
As 2020 approaches, a timely goal is to set job search and personal intentions for the beginning of a new year. Many employers have already begun to list open jobs that will need to be filled when the new year begins, so an easy goal to commit to is completing any applications of interest by January 1, 2020. Not having to be present for lectures also gives you time to redirect focus to your career artifacts.
Pro tip: Make it a goal to update your portfolio, maintain projects and enhance your resume so that it is sharp for any opportunity you might encounter.
Want to be productive but need a break from being on the computer? Focus on setting a goal surrounding in-person networking.
Connect or Reconnect
The holidays are ripe with in-person social, community, and professional events that are prime for engaging with new or old contacts. If you have the opportunity to attend a social engagement hosted by a family member or friend, approach the engagement casually, being open about your job hunt. It is not uncommon for someone you are meeting for the first time to ask what you do for work, while old contacts ask what you've been up to lately. When you are asked these types of questions, lead with an update on how you’re keeping your skills sharp and what you are aiming for. For example, “I finished up BloomTech this past October in their UX Design track. I am now on the job search for roles in…”
Do not limit your networking engagement to strictly professional events. Holiday events, like a local vendor market, might give you the chance to meet and get to know smaller businesses that have hiring needs. Look up what businesses are vendors for community events you might be able to attend ahead of time so that you can aim to introduce yourself in person and get to know more about the business. If you find a lead you’re interested in, reach out post-event via LinkedIn or email and apply for open roles they might have. After applying, follow up to let them know you already submitted an application. Keeping connections warm makes all the difference in establishing your network relationships, which brings us to the next tip…
Points of engagement are what maintains and grows a relationship, personal or professional. The holidays present a unique opportunity to message connections with a “Happy Holidays” or “Happy New Year” to keep you top-of-mind. The method in which you send this communication can be digital or physical, but the goal is to open the door to engage with a connection and find new opportunities to work together. It is common practice in the United States to send happy holiday messages with an end-of-year reflection or update about what you or your family are up to. Take this as a chance to own and declare your 2020 goals. In addition, you can share an update that you’re looking to break into a particular industry or type of role. You never know who might reply with an offer of assistance or to talk further about your skills and job search.
Another touch point can be meeting with someone one-on-one. It is not uncommon for individuals to use the holidays to take a step back from work in order to spend more time with family or just to relax. Keeping in mind that some of your connections may have increased free time, whereas they are usually too busy during the year, ask to meet up. If you will be visiting your hometown or a place you are not usually physically located, reach out to connections to let them know you can meet for coffee or hot cocoa in person. Take into consideration the holidays can be a socially busier time for many, so asking to set-up a time to connect in the new year is also an appropriate time request. Be honest about your intentions for connecting, indicating if it is to catch up or engage with them to get their perspective on work, or a combination of both. If meeting in-person presents a logistical challenge, catching up over video call or phone works too.
I love the quote “stay ready so you do not have to get ready," which applies perfectly to this time of year. It's true – companies slow down hiring during the holidays for reasons like an out-of-office hiring manager who makes the final call, or employees who are temporarily unavailable to conduct an interview. Some companies even observe extended holiday breaks, closing down for up to a week or more. However, it is also true that many companies have employees working through the holiday season who are eager to fill hiring their headcount before the new year. For these opportunities consider establishing the following habits:
- Make a point to check your professional email or voicemail at least once a day
- Keep your laptop with you if traveling (in case you get a technical or video interview) or arrange for access to a computer
- Give recruiters realistic expectations of when they will hear from you by setting out-of-office messages for times when you will be disconnected
- Have your resume easily accessible if you will not have your main computer with you
- Set email alerts for job boards that have fresh postings and apply ASAP
- Keep practicing for behavioral and technical interviews
- Mentally note under what circumstances you can and would accept a role ASAP
Happy Holidays and Happy New Year
Whether this time of year becomes busy or slow for you, enjoy it nonetheless. We are wishing you the best of luck in your job search and can't wait to see what is waiting for you in the New Year.
Want more insider career advice? Here are three secrets to landing a job faster, along with tips to help you avoid undercutting yourself during salary negotiations.