Don’t Wait till January – It’s Busy Season NOW for Job Searchers

 

It’s a busy time of year, but don’t let the holidays keep you from going full speed with your job search. Many people slow down their job search around the holidays because they think employers are not hiring at this time, or they are busy themselves with holiday preparations, and quite honestly, we all just want to have a little fun this time of year and think a few weeks won’t make much difference.

In actuality, EMPLOYERS ARE HIRING this time of year, and not just for seasonal/temporary jobs. Many want to have their new employee start the beginning of January, possibly sooner if they have money left in this year’s budget as it helps them to get their new employee up to speed before the year starts. And while it’s easy to allow ourselves to be busy with holiday activities, you don’t want to miss the opportunities that exist for those that keep working their job search strategies during the holidays.

Not only do employers hire people in November and December, but there are less people applying for the available jobs, so you have a better chance to be noticed if you stay active with your job search.

The holidays also present more opportunities to meet up with people. Too many people think networking is only for work-related functions.  Use any social events to network.  You may be surprised to learn that your neighbor, who works in a completely different career area, has a friend who works somewhere you would like to work.

7 Tips for Job Searching During the Holiday Season:

  • Keep to a schedule with networking, contacting companies, getting your applications in. December is a busy month for hiring.
  • Attend as many social events as your schedule allows, and seek the help of your family and friends with your job search. This may seem awkward for some people, but with good preparation, it can help you.
  • Be prepared with what to say. You may have an elevator speech that you use for other job-search networking events, but you might want to change that a bit with family and friends. The topic of work will likely come up in a more casual way, and you can say, “I’m currently in transition with my career, and I’m looking for my next opportunity working in…. Is there anyone you know who might be helpful to talk to?” This keeps it positive, focused on moving forward.
  • You have to ask for a little more help. Family and friends really do want to help, but they may not know how. If a friend suggests contacting someone, and tells you to mention their name, try to take it a step further.  Tell them, “Thanks! Would you be willing to call that person, or send an email to introduce me?”  This gives you a much better chance as their call or email is not likely to be lost or ignored.
  • Consider temporary work. Many companies have vacation schedules to work around, and end-of-year crunches to get some things finished in this budget year. It may give you a foot-in-the-door to a company you have your eyes on. There is also seasonal work within the retail and hospitality industries, which, even if your long term goal is not for those areas, working a few weeks can help you make new contacts and lead to jobs you may not have considered, plus a little extra income is nice.
  • If you’re in the interview process, be extra patient at this time of year. It may be harder for some companies to get things organized with some of the decision makers out of the office more at this time of year.
  • Remember to volunteer some time during the holidays. This helps in a few ways – When unemployed, budgets are often tight. Giving of your time, in your community, will often make the holidays more enjoyable, and along the way, you may meet people who can be helpful in your job search.

As a job seeker, this is your busy season.  Have fun, but keep working your job search plan so your New Year may be a little brighter.

By Alicia Philipp, MS, LPC, NCC,
Career Counselor
770-823-2563
http://www.LifeWorkChoices.com

 

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7 Tips for Spring Cleaning Your Career

Spring is a time of renewal. The change in weather, seeing trees in bloom, changing our wardrobe, getting outside more – all these seem to naturally draw us to making some changes in our life, and that could include some spring cleaning in our career. Here are some tips to consider for spring cleaning in your career.

  1. Clean off your desk or work-space. Clutter keeps us from seeing our goals clearly. Clear out the old to make room for the new. Set up new files and get organized
  2. Clean up your email inbox. How many hundreds (or thousands) of emails do you have cluttering up your email?  Time to clear them out. It might also be a good time to better organize emails with filters to help all future emails arrive already sorted. It’s also a good time to unsubscribe from any newsletters you’re really not finding helpful or interesting.
  3. Review your goals. It’s easy to lose sight of our goals when caught up in the day-to-day tasks of our work. With some of the clutter cleared out, where do you stand with your goals? Set aside some uninterrupted time to review your goals. Are you enjoying the work you are doing? Is your work helping you achieve your financial goals in life? Do you see a clear path in your career? What changes might you need to make to reach your goals?
  4. Update your resume. Think about your recent achievements, projects you’ve been involved with, new skills you’ve developed. Keeping your resume updated allows you to move quickly on any new opportunities that becomes available.
  5. Update your LinkedIn profile and add to your contacts list, on LinkedIn or otherwise. Gather up those business cards you’ve received lately. Review the suggestions given on LinkedIn. Update your summary. Add in new projects/tasks you’ve been involved with. Seek out additional recommendations, and make a few recommendations for those you have worked with recently.
  6. Review your educational needs. What will help you move forward toward your goals? Check into the offerings through any professional associations you belong to. Take a class, just because it interests you.
  7. Get busy networking. Send a brief update to your contacts. Ask about what they are involved with and offer help where you have something to offer. Set up times to meet for lunch or coffee. As you get out more for spring gatherings, keep some business cards handy. The best time to network is when you are not job seeking. You’re simply making connections.

Spring is a great time to be getting your career in good order, ready for what opportunities may come up in the near future.

By Alicia Philipp, MS, LPC, NCC,
Career Counselor
770-823-2563
http://www.LifeWorkChoices.com

Making a SMART New Year’s Resolution

New Years Resolution2

So many people make a New Year’s resolution, but don’t stay with it. If this is you, it’s time to rethink how you make your resolutions, whether it’s a New Year’s resolution, or at any time in the year. While I didn’t come up with this SMART idea, it’s a good idea to review now before New Year’s Day. We all make resolutions in our lives. We naturally want to make our own life and the world around us better in some way. As you might now be considering a New Year’s resolution, try to keep it SMART. There are a few versions of this acronym, but the basic one is good to get started, and will hopefully help you to keep your resolutions well past January, when others tend to fail.

SMART = Specific + Measurable + Attainable + Realistic + Timely

When it comes to your work, resolutions might include things such as: getting a new job; changing careers; managing our time better; improving networking efforts; seeking new business opportunities; being more organized; improving relationships with peers, a boss, or clients; increasing sales.

Consider the goal of improving networking efforts. When we’re employed, we can sometimes neglect keeping in contact with prior work contacts, or we find ourselves so busy with work that we don’t reach out to our current contacts in ways that would build stronger relationships. So often, it is when we become unemployed that we regret not having spent a little more time networking.

Keeping your goal SPECIFIC, in our example, you want to address certain aspects of networking. You might decide to increase your involvement with a specific professional association related to your career. You might decide to take on a board position with the group, or be a presenter for an upcoming conference. If your goal is too loosely defined, you will never be able to know if you achieved it.

To keep our goal MEASURABLE, decide how many meetings you will attend during the year, or how many people you will introduce yourself to at each meeting. You need to be able to see if you are hitting your target. Try to break down the numbers into weekly or monthly goals so you can keep tabs on your progress.

Keeping your goal ATTAINABLE, think of what might have kept you from being successful in the past. There will always be roadblocks to reaching our goals, the trick is figuring out how to blast through those roadblocks, one-at-a-time. If you can’t see a way past those roadblocks, then you might be setting yourself up for failure. If in the past, there have been conflicts in the meeting times for the association meetings, how will you plan your time differently so that you can get to the meetings?

Is the goal REALISTIC?  Too often we go overboard, expecting perfection on day one. It’s okay to have a less-than-perfect goal in mind, as long as it is an improvement from before. If in the past, you have only been able to get to 2 of the monthly meetings within the year, it might be unrealistic to think you will get to all 12, and the annual conference. Set a realistic goal and you are more likely to have success, which you will then build on for higher goals in the future.

Lastly, your goal should be TIMELY. Having a time frame gives your goals structure. In our example of improving your networking efforts, you need to get meetings on your calendar well in advance, making them a priority. Also get on the email list for the group, join their LinkedIn group, or ‘like’ their Facebook page so that you are sure to get regular communication from the group. Check in weekly on your goals to make sure you are scheduling the time needed to achieve your goals.

Whatever your New Year’s resolutions will be, in work and your personal life, keep them SMART and you will have more success in reaching your goals.

 
By Alicia Philipp, MS, LPC, NCC,
Career Counselor
770-823-2563
http://www.AP-LPC.com

Remodeling Your Career – Staying Current

floor samples

Taking care of your career is a little like taking care of your house. There are some people who diligently maintain their house, scheduling regular maintenance, repainting rooms, updating appliances and furnishings, keeping a good curb-appeal year-round. When it comes time that they would like to move, their transition is often a smooth one. Many people are interested in buying their house, so the seller is better able to get a good price, and move quickly on an offer for the house they want to buy. Your career should be the same way: In the job you currently have, you need to keep up with trends in your profession and industry. You need to keep your certifications and education up to date. You should maintain your network of contacts, not just relying on networking when job searching. And you should maintain a good track record for your work, with good performance reviews, and good relationships with bosses and co-workers. If all of those pieces are in place, when the opportunity comes up for a better job, either within your current company, or elsewhere, you are in a much better position to get the offer.

The economic downturn that started around 2008 made things very difficult for job searchers. While the market seems a little better at this time, it is not quite as good as other time periods, such as technology boom of the 90’s. Even during a down economy, it is possible to change jobs, even careers, but it is a challenge that you need to be prepared for. Your house needs to be in order. As the economy improves, you want to be the person who is ready for the opportunities that become available.

Regardless of whether or not you are job-searching right now, everyone needs to keep their career in good order, ready to sell when the opportunity is right. Have you kept in touch with your networking contacts? Make some calls, schedule time to meet and keep them updated on your current situation. Have you created a LinkedIn profile and become involved in LinkedIn groups? Networking is still the best way to find a new job. Do you know which employers are the best to work for? Are you active in a professional association where you can make contacts in other companies and stay updated on developments in your profession? Are there certifications to work on, or classes to keep your skills up-to-date? Have you revised your resume? What will make you the best candidate when a promotional opportunity becomes available, or when an employer you are interested in working with has an opening? These are things we should all be doing on a regular basis, but especially now as we are starting to see some increased hiring activity.

And what if you don’t like your current career and want to make a complete change? Now is the time to explore your options. Making plans to change a career can take time, often times longer than a year. Even if you don’t need to return to school, the process of researching and weighing your options, building your network, and retooling your resume should take place before the job even becomes available. Yes, these things take time, but there is no better time than right now. Your long-term happiness is worth it!

Contact me if you need help in your career planning.

Alicia Philipp, MS, LPC, NCC
Career Counselor
(770) 823-2563
AP-LPC.com

Volunteer to Boost your Career

volunteer

Though I often speak of networking as the most important thing you can do throughout your life that will help you in your career development, volunteering goes hand-in-hand with networking, and usually leads to better networking. So if you think you could do better in your networking efforts, one place to start is with volunteering more in your community.

We all know that volunteering can lift your spirits by helping others out of your own generosity, as well as doing something productive for your community. So much of what we all enjoy in our lives would be missing without the people who volunteer their time to make our community better. Volunteering can be as helpful to the volunteer as it is the people they are helping.

3 ways volunteering can help you in your career development:

1. It looks good on your resume. Whether you are employed or not, volunteering shows that you live a full life, and that it’s not all about work. Especially if you’ve been out of work for some time, adding volunteer experience to your resume can show how you made good use of your time to help others. Employed or not, we are all busy. Start with a small commitment and see if you can build on that.

2. It creates opportunities to develop new skills. Keep in mind any skill you would like to develop and seek out volunteer opportunities that might help you to develop that skill. Don’t be afraid to ask the volunteer coordinator to give you an opportunity to do additional tasks that reflect those skills. For example – if you’ve been out of the workforce for sometime and feel you don’t know the current software commonly used, ask to help out in an office setting with tasks that will allow you to develop your software skills.

3. It gives you opportunities to meet new people. Volunteering will help you to meet new people with different backgrounds and work experiences. Keep in mind that as a volunteer, you might interact with not only other volunteers, but paid employees, and possibly board members and donors to the organization you are helping – all of whom have other contacts in various industries. Always strive to make a good impression. Give your best efforts, treating your tasks as you would a paid job. Attend the fundraising and public events with organizations you volunteer for. Start up conversations with others, let them get to know you, and share your contact information when appropriate – you never know where it can lead to.

So if you are like so many people who say they need to do more networking, consider volunteering, especially if you want to work in a different industry, or change career paths altogether. You can seek out something that will improve certain skill sets, choose something completely different from your work, or something that would be just fun for you. If you need help figuring out what type of volunteer work to get involved with, ask at your local place of worship, or go to http://www.handsonatlanta.org and www.unitedway.org to get you started. It doesn’t have to be a big commitment – consider 2 hours every-other week. Make the commitment, put it on your calendar. Before you know it, your contact list will grow and you’ll find yourself better situated for your career planning goals.

Contact me if you need help in your career planning.

Alicia Philipp, MS, LPC, NCC
Career Counselor
(770) 823-2563