December is a notoriously slow month for interviewing and hiring and many job seekers decide to take the month off until employers ramp their efforts back up. This approach completely misses the opportunity to utilize the most effective tool in the job seeker’s toolkit: networking! December is rife with holiday parties and community festivities and the savvy job-seeker takes advantage of this while having fun in the process.
To be honest, I’m not a fan of networking, either the word or the activity. The word network makes me feel like I’m trapped in a never-ending slog. The activity makes me think of insincere small-talk and manic business card swapping. Instead, I frame this part of the job search as community building. People naturally want to interact with people who are part of their community and people who see you as a part of their tribe are more likely to help you. It’s a part of human nature!
So, December gives you a lot of opportunities to build your community without going to dry, awkward business events. Instead, you can go to fun (but possibly still awkward) holiday events. Take these steps to make the most of December and to set you up for the January job hiring rush.
- Which of your professional associations is having a holiday open house? Do a quick search and sign up for the ones you can attend.
- Are any of the organizations you want to work for hosting a holiday open house? Check their website, social media pages, or Eventbrite and sign up for what you can.
- Attend parties and gatherings of your friends, too.
- Tune up your elevator speech to sound more relaxed and festive. “For the New Year, I’m looking forward to finally landing that programming position at a social impact organization!” Be specific about what you’re looking for, but keep it to one sentence.
- Listen to the people that you’re talking to. People remember less of what you say and more of how you make them feel. So give the gift of attention!
- Keep your asks simple and general. Normally, I recommend that people have a specific and easy-to-respond-to request in their back pocket, like “Do you know of anybody working at a social impact company that you could introduce me to?” but for holiday community-building, keep it to “I’ve really enjoyed talking with you! Once the holidays die down, I’d love to take you out to coffee and hear more about what you do.” Get their contact information and then be one of the rare people who follows up at the appropriate time.
- Practice reading social cues. People who are great with community building are generally attentive and responsive to the people they’re talking to. This does not come naturally to everyone! If you fall somewhere on the socially awkward scale, use the festive atmosphere to practice social skills which can also make things fun. Perfect for parties!
- Don’t stress! If you are searching for work, stress is likely a constant companion. December often intensifies these feelings. Make sure you also schedule \ time to simply let go and unwind. Self care is always important and especially in the holiday season.
If you can take the month of December off of your job search, know that this is just fine. However, not everyone can do this. If you want to make sure that your search doesn’t lose traction over the holidays, be strategic and work within the reality that we live in: networking works, holidays mean lots of parties, and social connections enhance every part of the job search. Let the festive season work in your favor!