By L.M. SIXEL (Copyright 2009 Houston Chronicle)
Dec. 10, 2009
Friends drop by and the house is a wreck? Blame the holidays.
A messy car? Take a tip from me and go on about how you’re too busy baking and shopping to remove the crumpled hamburger wrappers and old coffee cups.
While I heartily endorse those — dare I say, cheap — ploys to avoid picking up toys and throwing out old gas receipts, don’t treat job searching that way. Resist the urge to take a long break under the assumption that no one is hiring during the holidays.
That’s because many companies use the slower time in December to line up job candidates for the new year and the new budget. Even if you don’t find immediate openings, take advantage of the slower pace to network at parties and introduce yourself to people you might not otherwise have a chance to meet.
“You don’t want to get caught up in the holiday mood and get lackadaisical,” said Cheryl Garcia, president of Cheryl Garcia & Co., a staffing agency in Houston that does temporary and full-time job placement.
Lots of companies post openings on their Web sites. Putting in an application in the weeks before Christmas shows your drive and initiative, she said. And your work ethic.
Use the time for research, suggested Peter Difilippantonio, vice president and general manager of Jobing.com, an employment Web site. Re-evaluate what you want in a job. And then use the time to target your résumé .
The extra time spent might well pay off, Difilippantonio said. That’s because the average posting — no matter where it is — receives fewer responses during the holidays.
“You have a chance to stand out,” he said. “There’s always a little bit of luck in the job search, and when you choose to apply is part of the equation.”
Employers slow down
The people you are trying to reach are also experiencing a holiday slowdown, which makes them easier to reach, said John Sweney, CEO of the Brookwoods Group, a staffing firm in Houston that specializes in marketing and communications jobs.
The executive you have been trying to reach for months may well be sitting at her desk catching up on paperwork with no secretary to screen calls, according to Sweney. Over the holidays, she may pick up the phone personally.
So do the opposite of what everyone else is doing, Sweney said.
“When everyone else is hibernating, that’s exactly the time to forage,” he said.
He also recommended sending greeting cards.
“Do you think your prospective employer will get a holiday card from any other candidate?” he asked. “Doubt it.”
A time to reconnect
Holidays are a natural time when people re-connect, said Dani Johnson of Kerrville, author of the book Grooming the Next Generation for Success. She recommended calling old co-workers, longtime friends and neighbors and in the course of saying hello, go ahead and mention you’re in the midst of a job search.
Take advantage of every party, including neighborhood get-togethers, your book club cookie swap and your spouse’s work party to meet people who might know of openings.
Solicit party invitations, Johnson recommended. Ask your friends if they’d like an escort or a plus-one for their office party.
But of course don’t be aggressive over the punch bowl.
Pretend every party is a job interview because you never know whom you’ll meet, Sweney advised. Dress well, avoid drinking and make sure you strike up conversations with strangers.
Don’t forget your business cards, he said. But give them out only if you’re asked.
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