[This blog is dedicated to Skip La Fetra, facilitator of the Silicon valley PMI job search breakfast. He led a great meeting that tackled this gorilla in a wonderful way and inspired this blog.]
The jingle of bells battered my skull like a thousand tiny anvils being dropped from orbit. Grabbing my skull I turned from my desk to take in a sight I immediately wished I could erase from my memory.
"Hogarth! What in the Sam Hill are you doing?"
My gorilla looked down at the red velveteen jacket he wore, shaking his head as he did so. With the jingling of his bell bestrewed hat nearly overpowering his words, he said "Well I admit old St. Nick shares the red theme with Bealzabub, but isn't it taking things a bit far to accuse him of being devil and not elf?"
I rolled my eyes, trying not to let Hogarth's verbal judo distract me from exactly why he was dressed up like a Christmas in the jungle reject. "Why the heck are dressed like that?"
"For the holiday party" he replied, his tone so bubbly it could make Champagne feel impotent.
"Party?" I sighed. "Hogarth, I'm not going to any party."
"You're not?" he replied crestfallen. "So back to pinging your network contacts and checking job boards?"
I threw up my hands, "What's the point? It's the middle of December, I'm not going to get a job now. I just want to wash my hands of all this, try and enjoy Christmas and I'll get back to looking in January."
Now imaginary gorillas should be fairly benign, after all you've thought them up, right? So when he walked over and smacked me upside the head I was understandably surprised. "Ow! What was that for?"
"To snap you out of your Dickensian moroseness " he said. "Cause I'm the 800 pound gorilla in the room and I'm not leaving until you deal with your attitude."
And there I was, having literally been hit over the head by the "Holiday Job Hunt Gorilla"
I have had the experience of being unemployed over the US holiday season (Oct 31st to Jan 1st), twice in my professional career. The two experiences were stark opposites of each other and show a clear example of why the holidays is the time to Speed Up, not Slow Down your job hunt.
In my first experience , I all but hid from my unemployment, trying to deny it was there and giving all sorts of justifications to not make even a token effort to look for work. I also completely ignored every bit of advice I give in my own career insurance blog. Not only did I end up hiding from my lack of a job through Christmas, when the new year came along I had lost all my momentum, all my drive. I eventually landed a new job, but it was more luck than my own actions. I was out of work for the better part of a year that time, an experience I never wanted to repeat again in my life.
In my second experience I was laid off from my company on Sept 30th. I started my new job on Feb 2nd, nearly four months exactly. More importantly, between Dec 20th and Jan 1st I was speaking with three different companies and even interviewed in the week between Christmas and New Years. I not only followed my own advice (learned almost word for word from manager-tools.com) but I sped up my efforts over the holidays. I took advantage of the hidden benefits of the season to accelerate myself into a great job.
No, I think the holidays can be argued as being the best time to search for a job, or to at the least close in on that next job prospect. There is a natural spirit of giving and kindness in the season, that is not limited to department store Santas and It's a Wonderful Life reruns.
During a Silicon Valley PMI Job Search Breakfast the attendees came up with the following, excellent, list of things to do in the holiday season.
- Don't slow down. This is not the time to slow your pace, but to increase it.
- Most companies operate their Fiscal Calendar from Jan to Dec, so their year is ending. This means their new budget year starts in January. They already know their budget and likely have started their job reqs.
- Holiday parties are not a time to bemoan, but a time to network with friends and colleagues. Make sure your business cards are up to date and plentiful.
- It is the season of giving, take advantage of people's natural tendency to be more open and giving to approach them.
- Be prepared for rapid response "can you come in tomorrow?" This is very common in the holidays.
- Do NOT underestimate the power of the thank you note! If you were good about sending "Thank You" notes during your first interviews then you can follow up with a Christmas cards to reopen your communication with the hiring firm.
- The holidays give you a readymade excuse to reach out to an old colleague who you fell out of touch with. Haven't talked to Bob in a year? Send him a holiday card and reconnect, then stay connected.
- If you get a job sent to you and it is not for you, think of who you know that might fit. Keep up your spirit of giving and helping and it will come back to you.
Wishing you all the happiest and most successful of holiday seasons!
The Gorilla Talker
Want me to talk to your gorilla? Send me an email
You can follow me on twitter, @JBC_PMP
Who is Hogarth? Read Blog 001 to find out all about my personal gorilla.