Despite all of the hype about the joy of the season, for people who are looking for work or who are thinking about creating more satisfying work, the holidays can feel like a “dead” time.  They believe that everything is on hold and that they will need to wait until January to kick their efforts into high gear.

In this new economy, you need to take charge of your career and grab the opportunities that are available to you when they emerge.  We believe that the holidays offer a tremendous opportunity for you to meet people, make connections, and talk about your work aspirations while engaging in the social activities associated with the season.

To get yourself started in taking advantage of the opportunities of this season, identify 2-3 situations where you can be around people who are not usually in your circle.  This is your chance to meet new people, ask them what they do, find out how they got into the work that they do, and share a bit about yourself.  As with an informational interview, you are not asking for a job, but rather you are listening for whether you can be a solution in an area, or for an organization, you have not necessarily considered previously.

When you get to an event or activity, look for natural meeting opportunities with people in the room.  Politely introduce yourself and then in a natural, conversational way:

  • Ask them what they do, how they got into the field they’re in and listen to what they are telling you about their journey.  Listen deeply – don’t get lost in worrying about what you will say next.
  • When it is your turn to speak, tell them about yourself by enthusiastically telling them a job skill and not a job title (I excel at solving complex problems, I love finding new product markets; I’m told I’m gifted at leading teams) followed by a description of your status (… and I’m looking for work or project opportunities where I can do that; I’m looking to advance to new roles in my current job; I’m exploring what I might do next).
  • IF it feels natural (vs. desperate) and if they have been helpful or seem interested in your skills, ask if you can be in touch with them to learn more about the work they do or their company.

The real goal here is connection – they may not be someone who can get you a job but they may know someone who knows someone. 

In today’s economy, connection is key to finding work; and work is about finding opportunities where you can be the solution to the problems an organization is currently facing or likely to face in the New Year.