How to Win at Holiday Job Search & Business Networking

Jump start your job search this holiday season and into the new year by downloading our free job search guide. Includes free resume and cover letter templates. 

The holiday season is one of my favorites as I’m able to reconnect with old friends, peers and colleagues seemingly bumping into them at cocktail hours, holiday parties and coffee meetups just to celebrate the season. Heck, I also love to cook and entertain, but there’s a secondary reason. And that reason is that I’m networking for a new job.

Finding a New Job During the Christmas Holiday

As an entrepreneur I’m always looking for a new job. I manage multiple clients answering phone calls and meeting required deadlines. The master of my own universe, I am looking for a job like everyone else. Mine just comes in the form of multiples, projects and special assignments. I literally hustle for a living.

And during the holiday season, the networking hustle is filled with opportunities whether you are an employee or entrepreneur. Employees in a traditional employment sense work for a single organization which sometimes makes the job search and networking process tricky. The hiring process is long, complicated and often times off the record as job seekers like consultants aren’t even sure when they are officially interviewing especially when it comes to networking. It’s increasingly harder than ever to stand out among the seemingly hundreds of online applications for a single open role. Aside from doing viral job search marketing and hiring campaigns, the holiday season presents an opportunity to connect with prospects, potential bosses and old colleagues without making the connection in the spirit of the holiday.

No matter who you are or where you work, you are never safe in your job search.  December and January are typically the highest turnover months as organizations make tough decisions to reduce head counts in favor of more positive quarterly earnings which is why we should never stop networking. Because we may never know when we might not have a job come January or after the holiday.

Networking both offline and online is the key to a successful career and future.  The Department of Labor tells us that 70% of all jobs are found as a result of networking. It’s never too early to start or too late, and holiday parties should be no exception.  According to Jobvite’s 2013 social media study found that 92% of recruiters used social media as part of their recruitment efforts. In person networking and events especially the large number of those available during the holidays are not enough. Whether it’s LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, or your blog social media can provide an effective way to further strengthen these in person relationships while also sharing your expertise and building your personal brand.

Professional Networking Tips for the Job Search

The holidays present new opportunities to expand your professional and person network and expand your job search by combining social media networking, traditional networking tactics and follow up to the prospects you meet at holiday parties. Either separately or in combination, these five networking tips can make your holiday party connections stronger into the New Year and help you find that job you are looking for:

  • Send Holiday Cards. A personal note after following up with an online connection as well as a in person meeting during a cocktail reception makes you stand out like no other. This is especially true since not every decision maker or business professional uses or responds best when it comes to social media. While important, it’s not the key to reach every decision maker and hiring manager which is why job seekers should diversify their channels and strategies when it comes to building relationships using non-based social media based and more traditional communication methods like snail mail to stand out from the crowd.
  • Use Your Blog. Use your blog to interview your top client prospects or companies as a way to develop a truly unique relationship that makes way for referrals, business, and new friendships.  Most everyone likes to see their names in print or media.  Take advantage of the unique opportunity you offer as a blogger and form of new media.  Use your blog to build relationships and open doors. A simple Q & A could be the difference maker that gets your foot in the door. Schedule a time to ask them questions or email them and make sure to follow through by publishing the article including a follow up email notifying them when the article comes through.
  •  Host a Holiday Open House. Either at work or at your home virtual or in person. Clients, friends, and colleagues can visit and enjoy a cup of hot cocoa, wine, or sparkling cider while building new relationships or catching up with old friends.  Looking to host a virtual cocktail party?  Google+ Hangouts can be very effective for relationships and business networking. Being a new transplant to the Bay area, I’m opting for a small invite only event myself complete with champagne and chocolates to make the event truly unique.
  • Network on the Holiday Party Scene. Make the rounds to all the holiday events and bring a stack of business cards. Never miss an opportunity to make a lasting impression.  No, business cards?  Follow up with a nice personal note via LinkedIn or Facebook to help solidify the personal connection.  Follow up the next week requesting an interview for your blog or a coffee meet up. Take the conversation even further by adding value to your newfound network through online introductions establishing value for later when its time for you to ask for something in return.
  • Go Old School. Let’s face it social media is a resource that literally everyone and anyone is using which makes traditional marketing and engagement sources truly unique. Get creative and get noticed but understand that your methods and means are a direct representation to the type of employee you might just be. Aggressive tactics can be appropriate given certain industries, positions and situations. You just need to research and understand the risk you are willing to take to make a statement and get hired at that ideal company.

Bottom line: Plan your approach but get out there and get moving.  The biggest mistake I see in the job search and in business is people waiting for the opportunities to come to them instead of taking the bull by the horns.  Regardless of the season, holidays or not, professionals should never stop networking especially considering that the average time in position is a mere 18 months.  All networking strategies including social media, in person should serve as a compliment to your aggressive in person relationship building strategy. A well thought out approach can provide you access to decision makers, hiring managers, and key players at the organizations where you wish to work.   Holiday parties and other seasonal networking events give you the chance to get to meet them and social media gives you the opportunity to keep them in your networks.

Jump start your job search this holiday season and into the new year by downloading our free job search guideIncludes free resume and cover letter templates. 

Jessica Miller-Merrell

Learn more about Jessica Miller-Merrell, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, the founder of Workology, a workplace HR resource, and the host of the Workology Podcast. More of her blogs can be found here.

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