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Navigating the Mistletoe of Job Search

As co-coordinator with my colleague, Miriam Salpeter, I am pleased to participate in our third round of posts from our community of expert career advisors and resume writing professionals called the Career Collective.

This month’s articles address the topic of Job Search Strategy During the Holidays.

Please follow our hashtag, #careercollective, on Twitter.

Having personally experienced the setback of divorce about 8 years ago on the threshold of the holidays, I empathize with job seekers undergoing the radical change of job loss, job transition and career makeover.

The bottom line, I think the holidays  are ‘not’ the magical time during which careers are fixed, made or broken, However, the holidays also are not the time to feel paralyzed in your search. A healthy blend of job search and rejuvenation are in order!

Earlier this week I featured a technology leader and client of mine, Altan Khendup, in a blog post explaining his job search strategies and the phenomenal results he has achieved.

As this post on ramping up one’s job search efforts during the holidays emerged, I sought out Altan’s tips. As well, I’ve blended in my own opinions on how job seekers may approach the ‘search’ during this particular season drenched in mistle toe, calls to ‘give, love, share’ and dripping in niceties and demands that, if not managed well, will sap our time and energy.

I’ll blend Altan’s and my ideas and comments hereto.

1. How should job seekers use their resume during the holiday season?

Altan suggests:

Do the ‘typical thing’ with your resume: prepare it for presentation, ensuring it’s up-to-date and incorporating any ideas that have been happening throughout the year.

I agree!

Now’s the perfect time to review and revamp your resume, if need be. Even if it’s just been a couple of months or more since you last adjusted your career story, you want to take a fresh look at your message to ensure it’s on-point with your target goal.

As well, if you have held consulting roles, part-time or short-term positions, volunteered, engaged in continuing education or training, or involved yourself in any meaningful endeavor that will support your value proposition, you want to evaluate how this information fits into your resume story, then effectively knit it in.

2. Is the holiday season a good time to distribute your resume and job search / network? Do you think it is, perhaps even better than other time-frames throughout the year?

Altan encourages:

The holiday season is the best time to distribute your resume but not in the typical sense. It is a charitable time and most people really are looking for ways to give back to people that they know and to help them along.

He recommends bearing in mind that the resume is not the first thing to push; instead, focus on strong follow-up post-networking.

Most people will respond positively to a well targeted and prepared networking effort during the holiday season. It is through these connections that resumes should be ready to be shot out at a moment’s notice.

Plant your career search seeds during the holidays in prep for the beginning of 2010 when hiring starts up again in a more formal manner.”

I agree!

Use the holidays to set aside typical job-search methods and simply have conversations around your situation with people who care about your well-being. When a connection is made, and the timing is right, have that resume ready to whip out.

As well, he makes a good point about hiring starting up more formally again in 2010. Though I agree with numerous reports of hiring happening ‘right now’ (and am personally witnessing those hiring events with my clients), I also realize that that activity speaks to  a portion of the business population.

In other parts of business, you have decision makers, recruiters and HR leaders slowing the processes of hiring just a bit in prep for a hit-the-ground running 2010.. Either way, conversations around these impending hiring decisions are happening NOW. Having meaningful, current career positioning documents at-the-ready is critical to job-search preparedness.

3. What are the obstacles in job searching this time of year? How do you overcome them? (i.e., action steps to take; attitudes to adjust/reframe; etc.). What obstacles can you actually convert to opportunities? How?

Altan says:

The biggest obstacles are vacations. Many prospective employers are now taking their vacation times and spending them family and friends. As a result it is important to make the most of every opportunity one can during holiday parties and other occasions where networking can work really well.

Avoid sending anything in email prior to vacations, or if you must, make sure to follow up immediately after. People’s emails will be piling up while away, and once they return to normal work pressures, the urge to move ‘less urgent’ items into the electronic trash bin is high.

Look at each job search action as making the best impression during the holidays, leveraging the good will of others into follow up actions, and working out follow-up action items that can be acted upon post-holidays.

I concur!

The temptation to be so immersed in one’s job search goals and forget that others may possess less of a sense of urgency about your job-search needs is sometimes difficult to resist. However, being aware of your audience’s situation will help you manage your own activities and expectations. With that said, it’s okay (and good!) to maintain a thread of communication with potential employers, recruiters, etc., while adjusting the methods (i.e., phone vs. email or positive-impression, relationship-enhancing emails with short-order follow-up, and so forth).

4. What are the advantages to job searching during the holidays? How do you leverage those advantages? (i.e., planning and preparation plus action steps to take)

Altan says:

What I have found is that many organizations are attempting to use their budgets before year end which pushes them into trying to get last-minute hires before the start of the year. Additionally, the year end also happens to be a great time for companies to look at projects, assess them and make plans for the future.

This is an excellent time to network, engage and establish your value to these future plans. By being properly engaged many people will be looking to recruit you or work you into their plans as soon as possible. Everything has to be ready so make sure that you have the plan and actions ready: engage the network, assess opportunities, present your value, propose your follow-ups, and follow through.

5. Have you in fact found this to be a ‘slow season’ for job search? If not, what has been your take on the activity of this season?

Altan says:

Actually not at all. In the past few weeks I have had quite a flurry of interest from people trying to hire me for a variety of positions. Most are trying to get things in place so that they can execute on them for the following year. Most that I have talked to want to get a head start in the new year so they want to make sure they start the process as soon as possible with some even looking at hires before the holiday season, if possible.

I’ve seen the same with several clients!

Lots of activity, continuing conversations, requests for resumes persist as the year concludes. Engage, engage, engage. Job-search communication should maintain a steady pace as you maintain and cultivate relationships that may convert to tangible career opportunities, if not before year-end, as the new year builds speed.

6. How do you personally plan to pursue your job search through the next several holiday-weeks?

Altan says:

I have already started by responding to inquiries, planning which networking events to go do, getting small gifts for everyone (this helps and is appropriate during the holiday season), having my resume in place, and making sure that I follow up with everyone before the holidays fully kick in. Now is the time to really have great networking opportunities, with many of the folks that I have spoken to looking to grow in 2010.

Good points!

It takes a good deal of organization to do so, but augmenting your networking attendance with thoughtfully selected gifts for people who have added value to your career and life is nice. People appreciate being appreciated … and they remember those who appreciate them!

@MartinBuckland, Elite Resumes, Season’s Greetings and your Job Search”

@GayleHoward, The Executive Brand, “It’s Christmas: And a ho-ho-ho-hum?”

@KCCareerCoach, Career Chaos, “The Gift Every Laid Off Job Seeker Needs”

@resumeservice, Resume Writing Blog,Holiday Resume Sparkle: Outshine the New Year Job-Search Mob

@heathermundell, life@work, “Have a Holly Jolly Job Search”

@sweetcareers,Sweet Careers, “Holiday Job Search Tips for College Students 2009″

@careersherpa, Hannah Morgan: Career Sherpa, “Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Kwanzaa Cheers”

@careerealism, CAREEREALISM.com, “Holiday Tip for Job Seekers: 4 Ways to Impress Others with Your Professionalism”

@heatherhuhman, HeatherHuhman.com, “4 Tips for Making the Most of Holiday Job Hunting”

@LaurieBerenson, Sterling Career Concepts, Three Resolutions to Take It Up a Notch”

@KatCareerGal, Quintessential Resumes and Cover Letters Tips Blog, “Avoiding the Holiday Blues in Your Job Search”

@WorkWithIllness, WorkingWithillness.com, Avoid this Minefield: Drive Your Bus!”

@DawnBugni, The Write Solution “Could that sound really be opportunity? During the Holidays?”

@andyinnaples, “Shift Your Focus to the Highest Impact Job Search Activities During the Holidays to Leverage Your Time”

@erinkennedycprw, Professional Resume Services, How to keep up the Job Hunt during the Holidays”

@keppie_careers, Keppie Careers, “Four tips for effective networking follow-up for the holidays and the rest of the year”

@GLHoffman, What Would Dad Say, “Merry Christmas! Can I Buy You Coffee to Talk About Me?”

@BarbaraSafani, Career Solvers, “Holiday Networking Can Facilitate New Year Opportunities”

@expatcoachmegan, Career By Choice Blog, “Expat Networking: Holidays Are a Great Time to Nurture and Grow Your Network”

@chandlee, The Emerging Professional Blog, “Footprints & Associations: Job Search Tips for the Holidays”

@JobHuntOrg, Job-Hunt.org, “(Holiday) Party Your Way to a New Job”

I’m not a career coach, and that’s okay

pen_night_writerOkay, so by default, I weave guidance into my in-depth resume writing processes that smacks of coaching.  Recently, Recruiting Animal (@Animal) took note of this in his blog post: “The Resume Writer.”

However, today, I beg to differentiate myself: I am a word wrangler, message clarifier and career story teller (i.e., resume writer) – not a career coach. At the end of the day, my clients hire me for the influential ‘words’ that erupt from the virtual and literal pages that we create, for the words that spring from their lips during job interviews, networking conversations or when caught unaware in casual conversation.

As well, my job as a career writer is to push, prod, ask the reporter’s ‘who, what, where, when and why’ questions, drive for deeper understanding of where the job seeker has been and even more importantly, provide them the spade to unearth their unique value drivers that help define where they want to go!

As a good career reporter, I do my research. This involves a barrage of questions, the answers of which often lie dormant in the job hunter’s head and involve intellectually rigorous recovery and regurgitation (My clients work hard! Likewise, I lift intellectual weights on their behalf!). Moreover, the job seekers I write for find themselves performing research to illustrate their go-forward goals.

Serious about my writing trade, I maintain ongoing niche-specific credentials (including Master Resume Writer) qualifying me to build the engine for a job seeker’s career vehicle, tapping the job seeker’s truth and powering it up with word fuel that drives the message home to the target reader. It’s all about the audience reading the story, after all!

It’s been bugging me for awhile, this tendency to lump resume writers and coaches into one entity, almost as if to say, that without adding ‘coaching’ to our label, then we’re ‘just’ resume writers with perceived lower value.

I applaud my resume writing colleagues who equally market their career coaching and resume writing talents, for many are passionate about blending the two professions. However, that’s not me. My overriding value proposition is my career reporting skills: abilities in in-depth research, asking the driving questions, unearthing career gold nuggets, whittling 25 pages of career brain dump down to 2-3 crisp, compelling and focused pages, and marketing the job seeker’s value to the right reader, influencing them to call.

Step Right Up: Career Blog Carnival Ride Awaits

blog carnival 3Welcome to the Career Blog Carnival! Career Trend (Twitter handle @ValueIntoWords; aka, Jac Poindexter aka Jacqui Barrett-Poindexter) proudly hosts this recurring event originated by Ben Eubanks (@beneubanks).  With a strong response by a diverse mix of career folks: resume writers, career strategists, career coaches and recruiters, we’ll get started!

Our first post-er is world-renowned careers blogger GL Hoffman (@glhoffman) who just today announced his Gruzzles roll-out in FastCompany.com (wow!). His ever-popular What Would Dad Say blog is the fuel for today’s Carnival post.  Entitled, Al Schweitzer Quote this article discusses the significance in each of our lives in having someone special who will rekindle our inner spirit when we need it most. This “bursting into flame by an encounter with another human being” struck a huge chord with me! I have several in my life who provided such inner-fire rekindling (on my mom, Ann Barrett’s, 70th birthday today, I want to provide a special ‘shout out’ to her for her consistent mantra of supportive words, particularly during my times of great darkness).  As GL articulates, “we all need unconditional support, love, encouragement … and someone to set ever-increasing expectations.”  READ this article for inspiration, hope and for reminding yourself of the great people who have sparked your flame when you needed it most.

Next, read words of wisdom from Heather Huhman (@heatherhuhman) a mentor to individuals seeking entry-level positions, particularly in public relations. She’s ‘been there, done that’ when it comes to young careers.  In today’s featured article, Heather fleshes out seven key opportunities for interns to maximize opportunities to move From Intern to Full-Time Employee.

Preparing job seekers for a new job search is the topic of @eExecutive’s article, Are You Ready? Providing 13 tools and tips for job seekers to consider whether just starting or in the midst of their job search process, Harry Urschel lends his 20+ years’ experience helping people into new jobs and careers, seeing the job search process from both sides of the table to offer what works now … and what doesn’t.

Julie Ann Erickson is a writer and on-line career transformation coach who provides tools and guidance to help people identify what they want to do and then do it! Her article, Research to Make Your Resume Document provides a three-pronged approach to ensuring the resume you’ve written is YOU, that it serves as a meaningful marketing document and that it communicates what you intended.

For consistently positive messages of hope and optimism, mixed with a blend of pragmatism and ‘real’ opinions, Life Strategist @WalterAkana provides the inspiring article, “You: Rock Star” for this week’s Carnival.  No matter your career field of endeavor, you can attain the clarity that will make YOU a rock star! Thanks, Walter Akana, for your words gems that inspire!

Job Search Is Like Dating is @DeniseMpl’s analogy. Connecting the dots between the two relationship-focused activities, Denise Felder, a career adviser and freelance writer who wants to help people make positive choices that impact their lives and society, shows how things like first impressions, follow-up and displays of genuine interest MATTER in both job search and dating.

For anyone working with chronic illness, working for someone with chronic illness, employing someone with chronic illness, whose family or friend works with chronic illness (you get the drift), Rosalind Joffe at @WorkWithIllness is your lady. Her post: Can You Job Hunt, Live With Illness and Stay Motivated? explores looking for a job in a depressed economy AND living with a chronic illness that impacts your employment history (ouch!).  Helping job seekers ‘break the overwhelm’ via a project management approach, this article provides tactical daily movements to garner positivity during a job search with chronic illness.

Jeff Lipschultz’s popularity on Twitter, I assume, is his clarity and consistency in his brand — my take, he’s positive, proactive, determined, foward-focused, ‘real’ and supportive of others. A founding partner of A-List Solutions recruiting firm, Jeff blogs about the challenges of finding the best jobs as candidates and finding the best employees as companies, among other employment, technology and societal topics. His post, Ten Reasons to Take Up Biking During Job Search taps into one of his personal passions. By moving through job search with physical and intellectual momentum, Jeff demonstrates the multiplicity of positive effects of exercise  (biking, in particular) in job search.

The ever-delightful, humorous and career savvy @DawnBugni never fails to satisfy in her regularly posted career tweets and blogs.  Her ‘storied’ article, Work Like You’re Working for Yourself … Well, Because You Are talks about Dawn’s favorite topics: a positive attitude, good customer service, social media and old friends, linking them into job search and career advice. Inspired – that’s the word I (and others who commented on her blog) would use to sum up feelings after soaking up Dawn Bugni’s inviting article of best practices in life, careers and customer service.

April Dowling (aka @adowling) is certified as a professional in human resources and currently works as an HR Generalist with a focus on recruiting and employee relations. Her post: Between Interview and Offer: Now What? articulates action steps job seekers should take once an interview occurs, including: Keep Interviewing!  All job seekers should read this HR expert’s tips to ensure they are up to speed on what to do when in the midst of an interview process.

Cris Janzen (@crisjobcoach) really does love her job! Why? Because she gets to help other people do the same, and she blogs about her passion: helping people find, create and keep work that plays to their strengths and feeds their soul and pocketbook. Her article: How a Job Search Is Like Painting a Room identifies 12 parallels between the two activities.  For example, “It always takes longer than you estimate — and hope.” And, “Preparation is 80% of the job. The 20% of ‘execution’ is a breeze if you have done your preparation in a quality way.” How true!

Increasing Your Shares during job search is Abby Kohut’s (@Absolutely_Abby) post. Wow! A great reminder to all of us the value of ‘sharing’ your job leads with others. This pay-it-forward attitude is essential to effective networking (and something we learned early on as a child when sharing toys, ice cream, etc.). Read this post if you want positive reinforcement regarding our interconnectedness with others and how it dramatically impacts job search (and life) success.

Mary Wilson, career coach, owns a consulting practice focused on enhancing relationships in the workplace that provides training, consulting and mediation services. Asking Are You in the Right Career?, @LearnSolMary’s article eloquently advises people beginning their career journey or contemplating a change. In particular, I loved the lines: “Don’t let fear of the unknown or what others will think stop you before you even get started” and “Never let others disabuse you of your gifts and your purpose for being on earth.” This is a must read!

Phyllis Mufson (@PhyllisMufson) is a career coach, small business consultant and certified life coach who helps people who don’t know what’s next. According to Phyllis, people usually don’t know the options available to them often because of their embedded fear. Moving them into a sense of adventure, helping people tap into their intuition, passion and potentiality, Phyllis shares her value proposition in this unique Carnival post — a video interview with @BillVick, entitled, Phyllis Mufson – Career Coach.

Miriam Salpeter advises job-hunting clients, teaching them how to take advantage of traditional and social networking strategies and writing targeted resumes that get results. Her article, Job Search Planning — Steps, Tips and Tricks is replete with valuable action steps job seekers can start today to gain immediate traction. As a starting point, be introspective and take time to outline your unique value offerings — identify your 3% that is unique and special. Pinpoint and research companies and then begin networking (via LinkedIn, etc.) with employees within those organizations. Another great article @Keppie_Careers!

Meghan Biro (@meghanmbiro) quickly became a true Twitter pal as we swapped synergistic exchanges that fueled an offline relationship.  An accomplished executive recruiter and career coach, Meghan’s fundamental belief in the importance of corporate culture and candidate personality fueled today’s article: Hiring for Personality and Culture Fit. Just listen to the article lead-in to get a feel for Meghan’s own high-energy and tuned in personality: “In my practice with career seekers, evaluation of a resume and coaching are table stakes. I prefer to focus on understanding a candidate’s personality (as well as resume and overall skill set) … key to whether a person will fit with my recruiting clients’ corporate culture …” The reading only gets better. Advise all perusers take a moment and sink their teeth into this meaty article.

With a repository of career blog posts that would fill a small library, I’m in awe of Erin Kennedy’s (@ErinKennedyCPRW) ability to quickly germinate and introduce her thoughts on resume and cover letter writing, job search and a multitude of career strategy topics. In her recent article on cover letters, Erin energizes her readers suggesting that cover letter writing is both fun and creative.  Read her nuggets of gold in the Cover Letter Tips article.

Finally, my own article, the very popular Steel Your Career links the process of smelting to career management and likens our careers to a strong piece of steel. Co-written by my ghost-writer husband,  Rob Poindexter, whose vocabulary sucked me into its vortex during our early courtship,  (will be introducing him in future blog posts), this story shows how like our own career paths steel is, as we mine our raw ore first from schools and institutes and then begin purifying  this treasure when it sees the light of day … and much more. A popular post that drove my blog visit numbers to record heights, this intriguing story is worth the read (in my not so objective opinion! 🙂

As our Career Blog Carnival winds down for today, I encourage you to share this link with friends and colleagues who may find value from the consortium of careers capital hereto. As for me, the take-aways run deep and broad as this experience further connected me with industry leaders and further educated me with meaty careers articles. Stay tuned for the next Career Blog Carnival – I’m sure Ben Eubanks (@beneubanks) has a stellar line-up over the coming weeks and months.

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