‘Tis the Season!

Tips for making the most of the Job-Search during the Holiday Season.

by Marie Haraburda, Global Career Coach

With December being a festive* month: Should job-seekers take a break from the job search?

It’s a myth that employers stop recruiting in December. Many recruiters have vacancies to fill before the end of the year to avert budget cuts. So while some job seekers lighten up on the search, this opens up more opportunities for those who continue looking. Whether seekers lighten up the search or forge ahead is up to each person. Here are some ways for seekers to include job search activities into their enjoyment of the holidays.

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Let it Snow! Job-Search strategies for the Holidays.

We get it.  Maybe there’s inclement weather.  There are added to-do’s on the list. There’s the entertaining, the re-prioritizing.  Doesn’t seem like the ideal set-up for moving a job-search forward.  Or does it?

REA’s coaching team recently gathered to discuss the subject of your holiday job-search and here’s how we see it:

Yes, you can.  If you want to.

 

IF you want to KEEP THE MOMENTUM GOING:

  • There’s a PERCEPTION that this is a “slow season,”… but it really isn’t. HR managers and recruiters are typically working very hard this time of year to fill vacancies and to use their annual budgets to avoid cuts in the coming year.
  • Since there is that perception, there are often fewer candidates, and that can translate into less competition for some great opportunities.
  • People seem to be in a better mood during the holidays. As such, hiring managers (and others who have their ear) may be more apt to be helpful. They may also have more downtime, particularly as vacation time stalls group productivity, so it’s a good time to set up meetings.

IF you prefer to TAKE A BREAK:

This is a perfect time for planning! Finalizing a resume, updating a LinkedIn profile, developing a marketing plan, and gathering other tools (BTW…holiday specials on business and greeting cards are prevalent), are all worthwhile activities.

  • There are myriad opportunities to volunteer this time of year, too. Giving back enhances sense of purpose, and we know the value of developing new skill sets and extending networks, right?
  • Clear the cobwebs! Take care of issues that may be preventing progress in the search.  It’s a good time for rejuvenation, family time, and life organization.
  • Get to know your new community! For all the reasons it’s a good time to job hunt, it’s also a great time to immerse into your new hometown and build new networks.

Whatever road you choose…The holiday gift that everyone can enjoy is enhanced networking opportunities!  Remember to track your contacts and to follow-up appropriately!  (Greeting cards are an obvious option to share seasonal outreach and update existing networks about life changes.)

Here are links to relevant articles around the web, shared by our coaching team:

Happy hunting!  (Or not…)

Lend a Hand. Leave Your Mark. Land a Job.

Once the dust has settled from moving pets and personal belongings into a new home, volunteering may also offer an appealing way to settle into a new community. Lending a hand where it’s needed is a good way to boost self-esteem, demonstrate a strong work ethic and help leave a lasting impression.

Another benefit of voluntarism is that “doing good” can often contribute to “doing well,” long-term. Job interviewers surveyed by Deloitte (Fortune, 2016) observed a connection between unpaid work and finding a job.

In fact:

82% of interviewers stated that they prefer applicants with volunteer experience;

92% say volunteer activities build leadership skills;

The same study noted that, despite the favorability of volunteer work among potential employers, only 32% of job seekers mention unpaid community-service experience on their resumes.

Here are some other benefits of volunteering:

  • Purpose: Volunteering allows individuals and families to immerse themselves into a new community while supporting a meaningful cause and providing a sense of purpose.
  • Flexibility: If schedule management is an issue, the time spent in volunteer work can be as flexible or as structured as needed.
  • Healthy Outlook: Change can be difficult, and boredom can wreak havoc for individuals who are predisposed to depression. Doing something for others is good medicine.
  • Skill Development: Keeping active through volunteering can enhance existing or develop new skills for future career opportunities…or while waiting for visa issues to be resolved.
  • Career Redirection: Volunteering is a creative way to try out a new line of work. When considering a career change, working in a non-profit organization or as an intern in a target company can help to test a new application of skills for long-term career development.
  • Networking: Few networking experiences are better than meeting people through voluntarism. Many corporations encourage their management team to support communities through service. Volunteering alongside professionals who are in a hiring capacity can be quite beneficial to landing a dream job.

As the Chinese proverb says, “A bit of fragrance clings to the hand that gives flowers.” For relocating partners, volunteer work can help support the sweet smell of success.

Check out REA’s Pinterest Board, Volunteer Your Way to A Job, for “best-of-the-web” resources on this topic.

The Risk Of Clicking The Little Blue Guy On LinkedIn

little blue guyI came home recently to discover my husband Steve glued to his smart phone, cheeks flushed with excitement.

“Whatcha doin?” I asked.

“LinkedIn is starting to make sense! It recommended these People You May Know so I started clicking the little blue guys next to people’s names. I clicked over 50 names, and my phone is blowing up now with people accepting my request!”

He peered up at me over his readers. “What? You look sick all of a sudden. I’m confused. Don’t you always say I should grow my network?”

I was thrilled he was exploring LinkedIn, so I acknowledged that. “You are so excited at the responses you’re getting!” I waited before launching into Miss LinkedIn Know-It-All.

“Yes! I didn’t realize how easy this is,” he said.

“Can I share a quickie LinkedIn lesson that’s easy to forget?”

He nodded.

“LinkedIn makes connecting easy, for sure. People prefer to do business with people they know, like, and trust, and LinkedIn is a perfect ecosystem for establishing your credibility. Here’s the thing: Clicking the little blue guy can mess with the “know, like, trust” factor.”

“Why?”

“Because when you click that blue guy, it sends a default message to the recipient which is, I’d like to connect with you on LinkedIn. That’s it. It’s blah and impersonal. Think of it this way: If someone walked up to you at a networking event, handed you his business card without saying a word and then walked away, what would you do?”

“I’d probably put it in my pocket and forget about it,” he said.

“Exactly. His awkward networking move is the equivalent of clicking the little blue guy in the People You May Know area. You’ve “collected” a name in your network with someone you don’t know; the trail between you is cold.”

Steve says, “So it’s like having a can in your pantry with no label. The one that sits there unused for years, taking up space.”

“Bingo,” I said. “Here’s another risk: Let’s say now you’re connected to Jerry Smith through the little blue guy. In a couple weeks your friend Rick calls you and says, “Hey Steve—I see you’re connected to Jerry Smith on LinkedIn. I’d love it if you’d introduce us.” You have to tell Rick “Crap! I don’t really know Jerry. Sorry buddy.”

“Now your “know, like, trust factor” has diminished in Rick’s eyes. He can’t rely on you to provide referrals, like you can rely on him. See, Rick knows not to click the little blue guy. He personalizes each connection request, starting the relationship on warm, solid footing. In addition, he stays in touch with his network, providing value in all the ways he can through LinkedIn. As a result, Rick’s “know, like, trust” vibe is through the roof.”

I also tell Steve about the other down side to clicking the blue guy: LinkedIn will restrict your account if too many people you invite that way respond with “I don’t know Steve.” (I contacted the LinkedIn help desk just now, asking what the “I don’t know” threshold was, and was told it depended on “multiple algorithms”). You can get it unrestricted, but I suggest avoiding the hassle in the first place.

The good news is, this whole conversation gave me the chance to reveal how forgiving an ecosystem LinkedIn is. Steve can work on growing his relationships with these new “cold” connections in spite of a rocky start. He can:

  • Message them privately, reviewing their profiles, finding like-mindedness and commonalities, laying the groundwork for information sharing
  • He can provide status updates that his connections value
  • He can write blogs that offer insights and information that benefit his network, boosting his “know, like, trust” factor

That said, it’s harder to turn a cold relationship warm than a warm relationship warmer.

Steve’s initial hunch was right: LinkedIn does make so much sense. It’s a rich online environment for finding prospects, earning their trust, and creating mutually beneficial professional relationships. But in relationship building there is no shortcut, which is why we need to avoid being seduced by the little blue guy, who makes us think a real relationship is just a click away.

Julie Bondy Roberts, MA, GCDF is a LinkedIn™ Profile Writer, LinkedIn trainer & public speaker, REA Career Coach, and blogger. She is the founder and principal at Coming Alive Career Coaching. To learn more about LinkedIn™ Profile Makeover packages & training your group or organization on growing your business through LinkedIn, contact Julie at juliebondyroberts@gmail.com. Follow Julie @CAcareercoach.

Don’t Let Online Time Derail Your Job Search

It’s Who Knows What You Know

Please click here for an REA Tip Network audio made for you by our President and CEO, Lorraine Bello.

Networking Around The World

Networking, making friends or gathering contacts anywhere in the world can be richly rewarding, especially as a way of getting to know the culture of a country a little better.

It can also be a minefield of the unknown because of the diversity of cultures.

Here are some networking tips and suggestions from career specialists’ experiences in Asia, Germany, Turkey and the Middle East.

In China

Guanxi drives business. Guanxi literally means your network of relationships, but also encompasses a sense of trust and obligation. It takes time to build guanxi by sharing meals and small talk, and doing little favors. After you invest time in getting to know someone you wish to do business with, there comes an obvious point where you cross the threshold of being trustworthy, and you’ll likely be awarded work, help and genuine, lasting friendship.

  • Carry plenty of business cards. Exchanging cards begins every introduction.
  • Seek out social and professional networking groups. Many opportunities are launched via informal conversation.
  • Be patient. Deals are rarely finalized in one meeting.
  • Don’t be too pushy or direct. The relationship is seen as more important than forceful efficiency.

In Turkey

Networking in Turkey can be very rewarding when you follow a few simple tips. There is a strong belief that giving back to your network and community is essential to succeed in life and business, which is a good principle to follow when networking.

  • Focus on giving without any expectations and getting to know the person rather than telling them about yourself. Listening and giving are key.
  • Do not try to get before you give.
  • Bragging is frowned upon.  Always be modest and polite. Listen first and then talk.
  • Be yourself rather than try to impress.

In Germany

Germans separate work from private life and use language to reinforce this. The key to networking with Germans is to allow time for the relationship to grow and to avoid using too much “small talk”.

  • Find common ground by discovering where they have visited in your own country.
  • Make an effort to speak some words in German, especially if you can learn some local dialect.
  • Be careful not to be pushy or to expect to become an immediate part of the group.
  • Build trust and respect with co-workers.
  • If you are meeting younger Germans you can immediately use the informal form of address, but beware, as it can sometimes lead to sticky situations.

In Japan

Typically the work hierarchy is maintained outside of the work place. Very often employees will not leave until the boss leaves and will follow the boss’ lead socially.

If you are looking for work it is very common to network in international clubs.  Two of the best clubs are led by international expats.

  • The most important tool to have at your fingertips is your business card. Present it with two hands.
  • Always have your business card with you when you attend an event.  Even if you are not working, you should have a card with your contact details to exchange when you meet people for the first time.
  • Using just one Japanese word will bring you a long way, so make the effort to learn some basics.
  • Practice bowing.
  • The Japanese are very quiet, calm and seek harmony and consensus. Do not be afraid to exercise being silent, which is very normal for the Japanese.

In the Middle East

Relationships take a long time to form in Arab cultures, and building trust is important and takes patience.

  • If you are at an event with other local or native Arabs, be modest and business like in your dress.
  • When you are at an event with local Arabs, either male or female, be aware that they may not shake your hand for religious reasons. (Males can shake hands with males and likewise females with females, but often locals will not have physical contact with the opposite sex). Either wait for them to extend their hand first, or at the end of the meeting, put your hand on your chest and express how good it was to meet them. This is a respectful alternative to hand shaking.
  • Ask about family as part of building relationships. Quite often a business meeting will start with this information sharing and eventually the conversation will come around to the matter at hand. Be patient; it is all part of the culture.
  • Learning the Arabic greeting will show great respect for the culture. There are various ways to greet in Arabic, but a simple “salam alekum” will show respect.
  • Do not admire a local woman’s jewelry, headdress or clothing. If you do, following it immediately by saying, “mashallah.”

In whatever country you will be networking, spend some time becoming familiar with the culture. Showing that you care enough to find out about the culture is a step toward building lasting relationships. Finally, when networking internationally always be respectful and remember to enjoy the experience.

Emma Wheat is a Global Services Coach for REA. This article was written with contributions from REA’s Global Services Team.