Holiday hiring slump: how to network & be productive when business is slow

Holiday hiring slump: how to network & be productive when business is slow

December is notorious not only for its icy freezes, but for hiring freezes, too. (Unless you work in retail. In which case, I admire you for your strength.)

And that can be a pain for those of us looking for work. (Though what job-seeker wouldn’t be a bit panicky at the thought of starting a new gig at the height of the holiday season?) If you’re on the market for new employment but aren’t getting a lot of leads, you can still use the holiday season to get ahead on your networking game.

Here are nine ways to polish your online presence, make new connections and maybe even open up doors that will lead to employment. (You know, for when you’re not last-minute Christmas shopping or sipping seasonal cocktails):

Update your bio or about page. So you have a website that you update regularly. But when was the last time you even looked at your bio page? Is it collecting dust? Does it still say you’re overseas teaching English to penguins who are probably dead by now? (First thing that popped into my mind.) Don’t let your first impression give the wrong impression—refresh that bio, and update your headshot while you’re at it.

Revise your resume and organize your clips/samples. If you’re been using the same resume template for years, it’s time for a revision. Have you picked up any new skills or taken on new clients? Can you tighten up the language or remove a position that’s not really relevant anymore? Make those changes. And if your work constitutes having a portfolio or providing work samples, collect links or files and organize them neatly on your computer and website. This is your go-to when potential employers ask for examples of your work.

Breathe new life into a standby cover letter. They say you’re not supposed to have a “Dear X, I’d love to be considered for the X position with X” cover letter, and they would be correct. (It’s so obvious when you just copy and paste positions and company names into a generic cover letter.) But most of us aren’t rewriting each letter from scratch, either. Sit down and write out all the things that make you a great catch and then use that to draft a letter that’s inspired. If you’re stuck, this post outlines a great mind trick for writing a non-sucky cover letter.

Clean up your social media accounts. Unfollow people who annoy you or don’t follow you back, create Twitter lists of your favorites, and read through your latest posts to make sure they’re contributing to an image you want to convey. Do away with any social media sites that zap your energy or merely feel like an obligation. As Sarah Von Bargen says, you only need to be active on two or three sites that you enjoy using and that make sense for you.

Talk to people you’d like to work with online. On the subject of social media—are you following or talking to the people you’d like to work with (or for) online? Find the writers, editors, designers, marketers, public speakers or developers who are your colleagues—or who you want to be—and respond to their posts, share their content and offer up your own thoughts on the same subjects. Don’t kiss ass just to kiss ass. Engage and discuss. People will start to take notice, and you’ll attract followers in your field.

Offer pro bono work. ‘Tis the season of giving. Offer your services free of charge to a nonprofit or organization you’d like to work for or whose cause is important to you. This is especially valuable if you don’t have a lot of experience. Sometimes one solid recommendation is all you need to get your foot in the door for the next paid gig that comes along, and if you do a solid job, you’ll get just that.

Write testimonials for connections on LinkedIn. Endorse or write glowing reviews for current or former colleagues whose work you’re familiar with. It’s not only good karma, but those people will be more likely to think of you when they hear of a job that pops up. (And maybe they’ll return the testimonial-writing favor!)

Send holiday cards or “thinking of you” emails. This is not one of those emails that says “It’s been so long” and “I have a favor to ask” in the same damn paragraph. Instead, try a no-ulterior-motive email like this: “Hey X – Merry Christmas! Hope all is well. I thought of you recently when X. I just caught up with your latest project – impressive stuff!” Warm fuzzies all around.

Keep an eye out—just in case. Hey, new opportunities can come up any time. (There are a lot of good reasons why December can actually be a great time to land a gig if you’re looking.) Just ask Laura or Nicole—they both just started great new jobs they’re excited about! So have your stuff together and be ready for when that opportunity arrives. In the meantime, enjoy the holidays!

Aside from some of the above, I’m working on a brand new site design that I’m really excited about and hope to reveal for the new year. It’s a much-needed refresher that I’ll be even more proud to show off to potential employers.

Are you currently on the job hunt?

A Thanksgiving gratitude roundup

Thanksgiving

For today’s post, I asked the good people of the interwebs to tell me what they’re most thankful for this year so I could include their responses in a Thanksgiving-themed post. I was envisioning a heart-warming, sentimental, feel-good post with a gushy outpouring of love and gratitude.

But that’s not what everyone had in mind.

Now, there WERE a few genuine responses that had what I was looking for:

I am most Thankful for my family and extended family who continue to amaze me with what they do for themselves and others. – Ken

Healthy family, good friends, and a job I like. – Helen

One that sticks out is a supportive group of family and friends. Don’t know where I’d be without the support of those around me! – Jessica

I’m super thankful for my amazing friends, who let me sleep at their houses and have sobfests on their couches. – Brianna

For my healthy little newborn!Nagehan

That my younger brother is doing well in his first semester at college #TakingOverOneAtATime – Andres

And then there were these guys, who were honest about the little, everyday things that get them through:

I’m thankful for Breaking Bad and for Robert (the guy who fixed our dishwasher two days before Thanksgiving.) – Chris

I am thankful for buttery brie… and oh yeah… wine. – Suzy

I’m thankful for hot water and the ability to charge my iPhone in my car. Oh and power steering. – Erin

The cloud, baby. It’s all about the cloud. And iMessage on my computer OMG. – Jenna

My family; but Neil Young is a very close second! – Stacy

I’m grateful for the wealth of great music and films that came out in 2013. Also, the Internet. – Jorge

That the perfect red lipstick is not a myth and actually turns out to be a total game changer. I know that sounds shallow & superficial but I challenge anyone to find better confidence boost than wearing a perfect red!Amanda

I am thankful that there have been so many good albums released in 2013. SO MANY. – Martin

This is my answer and you can’t stop me. – Rachel

And then there was this awkward moment when it could’ve been a serious response or a joke:

I’m thankful for baby Jesus. – Todd

In any case, you guys made this post a fun one to read and put together. Which brings me to my next point…

What am I thankful for this year?

Well, earlier this month, I wrote a guest post for Erika about how grateful I am for the change in perspective moving cross-country has brought me. I’m also thankful to have a partner-in-crime for this crazy adventure, and that, so far, we’re doing all right. I’m grateful for my family and friends back home, who I miss dearly. I’m grateful for the opportunities grad school has opened the doors to. I’m so, so thankful for all the wonderful people reading and commenting on this blog that continue to make it worth the effort. And, like some of you, I too am grateful for wine. And the perfect shade of red. And baby Jesus.

So to my friends in the U.S., have a happy Thanksgiving tomorrow! For everyone else having a regular ole Thursday, thanks for being you. Now I’m off to make Cassie’s famous casserole.