Make us your home page

Don't take a holiday break from job search

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — For weary job seekers, the holidays can seem like the perfect time to pull up the covers and retreat until January. But that's the wrong attitude, say career counselors and job search experts. Contrary to what many assume, the season between Thanksgiving and New Year's can be the best time for job hunters.

Why? It's a combination of factors: less competition because fewer people are looking; more social opportunities to rub elbows with people who can help you; year-end hiring cycles to fill job vacancies; and better odds of finding company managers in the office — or even answering their own phones.

"A lot of people think this is a down time and there's no hiring, which is really a myth," said Terri Carpenter, a longtime career counselor with the Sacramento Employment and Training Agency (SETA) and Sacramento Works.

Rather than retreat, job seekers should "bump it up a notch" by calling, mailing, talking, socializing and, yes, networking, said Michael Magatelli, president of Magatelli Leadership Group, a Sacramento-based executive coaching firm.

Among the best places: holiday parties and business mixers, such as events hosted by a local chamber of commerce, Rotary-type groups or industry trade associations.

While holiday socializing can seem daunting, now's the time to take the plunge and strike up a conversation.

"It's not that high-risk, but the rewards are big," said Don Gabor, a New York-based conversation coach and author of How to Start a Conversation and Make Friends.

Treat networking, he said, as a research opportunity, a chance to listen, establish rapport and pick up tips that could help you later — or let you be a problem-solver for someone else.

"When it comes to looking for work, it can make all the difference in the world," Gabor said. "If you don't strike up the conversation, how would anyone know you're looking for work or that you're someone they could recommend for a job?"

But don't be a "networking shark," whose only agenda is circling the waters for bites on job leads.

Reach out to others

Send a card or call: If you meet someone at an event, get his or her business card. Within a day or two, follow up with a handwritten note or a holiday card, Magatelli suggests. "That note says, 'It was a pleasure meeting you at XYZ event; thank you for the conversation, I look forward to following up with you in January.' "

During the holidays, when many office staffers are on vacation or reduced hours, executives are more likely to open their own mail and read the contents, especially if it's personally addressed.

Get creative: Use your holiday time creatively. Magatelli recalls an out-of-work retail executive who heard — via networking — about an opening with the Tuesday Morning discount chain. Unfamiliar with the company, he toured several stores, identified their strengths and weaknesses and wrote a two-page summary. He emailed it to the chain's CEO, with the subject line, "Losing Holiday Jingle?"

That effort yielded an interview that led to a job offer "in the last week of December," Magatelli said.

Staying in touch: If you've lost contact with former colleagues or friends, use a holiday card to reconnect. But mind your message. The first sentiment is acknowledging the friendship, not hitting someone up for a job.

A card also lets you suggest a coffee or "informational interview," which you can call to confirm now or in January.

Mind the calendar: Carpenter, who is in touch with dozens of businesses year-round, says many companies have annual budget cycles that allow new hires starting in January. That means job postings go up this month. "A lot of job offers are made by Dec. 31," Carpenter said. "Job seekers who are motivated should be maximizing their networking opportunities . . . all the way through the end of the year."

Don't take a holiday break from job search 12/19/11 [Last modified: Monday, December 19, 2011 9:03am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, Tribune News Service.

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. PunditFact: George Will's comparison of tax preparers, firefighters based on outdated data


    The statement

    "America has more people employed as tax preparers (1.2 million) than as police and firefighters."

    George Will, July 12 in a column

    The ruling

    WASHINGTON - JANUARY 08: Conservative newspaper columnist George Will poses on the red carpet upon arrival at a salute to FOX News Channel's Brit Hume on January 8, 2009 in Washington, DC. Hume was honored for his 35 years in journalism. (Photo by Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images)
  2. Appointments at Shutts & Bowen and Tech Data highlight this week's Tampa Bay business Movers & Shakers



    Retired U.S. Navy Commander Scott G. Johnson has joined Shutts & Bowen LLP in its Tampa office as a senior attorney in the firm's Government Contracts and Corporate Law Practice Groups. Johnson brings 15 years of legal experience and 24 years of naval service to his position. At Shutts, Scott will …

    United States Navy Commander (Retired) Scott G. Johnson joins Shutts & Bowen LLP in its Tampa office. [Company handout]
  3. Macy's chairman replaces ex-HSN head Grossman on National Retail Federation board


    Terry Lundgren, chairman of Macy's Inc., will replace Weight Watchers CEO Mindy Grossman as chair of the National Retail Federation, the organization announced Wednesday. Grossman stepped down from her position following her move from leading St. Petersburg-based HSN to Weight Watchers.

    Weight Watchers CEO and former HSN chief Mindy Grossman is being replaced as chair of the National Retail Federation. [HSN Inc.]
  4. Unexpected weak quarter at MarineMax slashes boating retailer shares nearly 25 percent


    CLEARWATER — Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the water, a boating business leader issued a small craft warning.

    Bill McGill Jr., CEO of Clearwater's MarineMax, the country's biggest recreational boat retailer. [Courtesy of MarineMax]
  5. CapTrust moving headquarters to downtown Park Tower


    TAMPA — CAPTRUST Advisors, a Raleigh, N.C.-based investment consulting firm, is moving its Tampa offices into Park Tower. CapTrust's new space will be 10,500 square feet — the entirety of the 18th floor of the downtown building, which is scheduled to undergo a multi-million-dollar renovation by 2018.

    CAPTRUST Advisors' Tampa location is moving into Park Tower. Pictured is the current CapTrust location at 102 W. Whiting St. | [Times file photo]