What to do over the holidays if you’re looking for work

The holiday season is soon upon us. Some may have already started disappearing into out of office messages or the “offline” abyss. If you’re supposed to network to get a job, what are you to do during this time? Don’t worry – the holiday season is a great time to get set up for a productive January. Here’s why, and what you can do.


WHY #1: Time and space. 

When people don’t go to the office, they have physical and mental space from their work to-do list. I think this opens them up to double check e-mails they had flagged to themselves as ‘want to do, but not now’. Your cold email (see a recent post for details about this) may be on this list! So good news, they might get around to it, if you sent it within the last few weeks to few months.

WHY #2: New Years. 

What does NYE have to do with networking? Quite a lot, I think. In my experience, January is a great time to connect with people because of our inherent nature to restart, refresh, and set goals for ourselves during this month. Perhaps people are setting goals to connect with people a more, to mentor someone, or to clean up their inbox (among others like going to yoga, the gym, eating well, etc.). The ideal is to get into the first two weeks of someone’s schedule back to work if you’re aiming to speak with them over the phone or in person. I have already had success doing this. I have a coffee set up with someone for the Thursday back from the break. Use this fresh start to your advantage!

WHY #3: Your network. 

While this may not be the case for everyone, many of us head home for the holiday season or part of it. If where you are going is also where you grew up, or where you have a decent number of connections, this is a great time to meet up with some of those people. Remember, when it comes to your network, your hot and warm connections are the ones that can be most helpful to you when looking for a job. Even just mentioning to your parents, cousins, aunts, or family friends that you are looking for a job in XYZ may create a domino effect of those people telling one other person in their own network. Never underestimate the power of the people who are already in your life.

So, given these three reasons, what should you do over the holidays?

What to do #1: Research & make a list.

Research; it’s always vital. You need to know who you are reaching out to first before you do it. I recommend making a short list of 5 people you are really interested in meeting with. If you have never connected with them before, use my past tips for drafting this e-mail.

Time your e-mail correctly. Send an e-mail just as this season is about to start, or about to end. Think December 19th-21st, or 31st-January 2. Psychologically, as people are gearing up to go back to work, they are going to check back into their e-mails. If yours is sitting top of the inbox, you are more likely to be seen. And you need to be seen to get a response!

I started setting up January coffees in early to mid-December. People have started realizing early in December how full they are with holiday events. The best way to approach this is to go in expecting December to be a no-go. I sent my e-mail on December 7th and the subject line was: Setting up coffee for the new year. I do this so I can manage expectations right from the get-go. Luckily, this person agreed readily.

What to do #2: Send those e-mails. 

Send, send, send. Don’t be afraid, just go for it. Unless you royally screw up the e-mail (which I don’t believe you will), you have nothing to lose.

What to do #3: Tell your network. 

People can’t help you if they don’t know you need it. Think about bringing up your next step and what you are interested in doing at the next social gathering you are at. If you don’t have any events planned, try giving someone a call, or writing them a note. Especially do this with people you know very well or somewhat well because they already know and like you. Ask that person if they know anyone you should meet with or speak to, and then start from the beginning of this ‘What’ list.

I’ve written about how to prepare for a cold meeting (with someone you don’t know) in a previous post. Click here to read it.

As always, if you have any questions about how to go about any of this, please leave a comment below, or e-mail me at julia.hawthornthwaite@gmail.com with “Career Question” in the subject line!

Happy holidays & happy searching.

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