It’s that time of year again when job seekers think they should stop looking for a job throughout the holiday season. No one will be hiring anyway, so you may as well take the rest of the year off, right?
Not true, according to HR and job search experts.
Although some companies may have no budget left for hiring, others still have openings they need to fill by the end of the fiscal year. That means it’s unwise to assume a company won’t be bringing on new candidates unless they announce a hiring freeze.
The savvy job hunter maintains job search momentum throughout the holiday season and finds fresh ways to leverage networking to open doors with hiring employers. After all, there are increased opportunities to network offline throughout this period, and each event you attend offers the gift of connecting with people you haven’t met or haven’t seen in a while.
Also, since the COVID-19 pandemic, virtual networking has become an essential part of your career, allowing you to continue to grow your professional network from the comfort of your own home. Over the holidays, attending a few virtual networking events will be easy, since you should already be familiar with them from your experience working from home or attending some in the past.
As you launch your own holiday networking campaign, make sure you avoid these “naughty” tactics and follow the “nice” holiday networking tips instead.
“Naughty” Holiday Networking Strategies To Avoid
1. Focusing only on your search needs. Leverage a give-to-get strategy instead by cultivating your relationship with the people you encounter in your holiday merrymaking. Ask them astute questions about their workplace needs, and look for ways you can help.
2. Asking for jobs, information, or leads without offering to give one or more of the same first.Above all else, the holiday season is a time to connect in meaningful ways with people you already know and those you don’t. You can’t do this if your sole focus is on you.
3. Pushing your job search agenda on influential contacts. If you focus on proving your usefulness first, you won’t have to push your agenda at all.
4. Sending out networking requests disguised as holiday greetings. Remember: You don’t have to ask for something each time you connect with your network. Focus on giving something every time instead.
5. Expecting quick responses from anyone about anything. The closer we get to Christmas and New Year’s, the more delay you can expect in any job-search-related communication. Accept this and move on.
Focus your holiday energies on leveraging these “nice” door-opening strategies even Santa would love.
“Nice” Holiday Networking Strategies To Try
1. Attending a wide variety of holiday events and being prepared to make connections. Whether you’re going to parties or open houses, joining a friend for a company event, or enjoying dinner with one or more friends, use every outing to gather insight and information. Replace your usual holiday networking outings with virtual networking events if you have safety concerns (or just like the convenience of it).
2. Preparing a two-sided business card for on-the-spot networking. Present your personal branding statement on side one, and showcase your experience, credentials, and impacts briefly on side two. If a two-sided card is too small, try a fold-over card that allows you to print text inside and out. If this is still too small, why not try a postcard instead?
3. Building a holiday list. Like Santa, you need to know what everyone on your target list is seeking. Ask the contacts and job seekers you meet how you can help them, and keep a record of their responses for immediate follow-up. Look for ways to refer job seekers to recruiters and companies, and suggest recruiters and companies to job seekers.
4. Proactively referring potential candidates to recruiters, companies, and hiring managers. Be the star in your network by preparing a brief intro about job seekers you know and feel comfortable recommending, then offer their contact information (with permission, of course) to recruiters and companies that match the job seekers’ search targets.
5. Following up promptly. Don’t let those holiday connections go to waste! Make sure you follow up with new members of your network soon after meeting them to let them know how nice it was connecting with them and keep the communication lines open.
6. Using the period between Christmas and New Year’s to recontact all previous interviewers. Let your past interviewers know that you’re still available. I’ve known more than one candidate who reopened an opportunity by proactively reaching out during an otherwise slow period.
7. Sending out New Year’s greetings to influential contacts in your network. Include a short, brand-driven message about your value proposition, assuming that you have previously sent a holiday message with zero branding included. This strategy allows you to refresh the memories of your influential contacts with your candidacy as they put the holidays behind them and return to work in the new year.
Remember persistence and assertiveness are always in season. When paired with smart search strategies, your holiday networking can yield a bounty of new gifts in the new year.
Networking is something most professionals struggle with. But the truth is your network is your net worth.
If you don’t have a strong network, your career will suffer. It will also make your job search more difficult than it needs to be.
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