At the beginning of each year most job seekers and career changers cease all their efforts. They believe there is no point in pursuing new opportunities and employers won’t be making hiring decisions until at least late January. Many remain idle from mid-November to the third week of January.
But according to Ford R. Myers, making these kinds of assumptions is a huge mistake, especially in this challenging job market — the worst since the Great Depression!
Myers suggests that job seekers become “contrarians” — and do what all the other candidates are not doing. Since most of them are taking an extended break, this opens up real opportunities for motivated job seekers.
Myers offers the following career-savvy tips for the New Year:
IT’S ALL ABOUT RELATIONSHIPS.
During the first of the year, most people are naturally more convivial and generous in spirit. There is simply no better time to solidify existing relationships and forge new ones! Even hiring managers are typically more receptive and “open to discussion” than at other times of the year.
TUNE IN TO THE NETWORK.
There are many networking events in January — in your social life, your community and your professional circles. These celebrations make this the best time of year for productive networking!
SMALL TALK REAPS BIG BENEFITS.
Most professional associations have a super bowl party. These special occasions offer a more casual atmosphere than the formal presentations held at other monthly meetings. Be prepared to make interesting small talk to establish new contacts. Ask the people you meet about themselves, their work and their interests. Remember, everyone’s favorite subject is themselves!
CONVERSATION STARTERS AND STOPPERS.
Prior to a social or networking event, prepare at least three neutral questions you can ask, such as:
* How do you know the host, the company, etc.?
* What made you decide to come to this event?
* What other organizations in this industry do you belong to?
If you find it’s time to move on and talk with someone new, you’ll need some phrases to help you transition during the event. Here are some good “exit lines”:
* I’ll let you go now so you can continue circulating around the room.
* I’ll stop monopolizing your time so you can meet some other folks.
* It was great speaking with you. I’ll follow up as we discussed.
There are some great volunteer opportunities this time of year. This is a good way to help other people, feel good when you need a boost, have a renewed sense of purpose during your search, and meet other professionals. Volunteering also gives you something interesting to discuss with the new people you meet!
After meeting people, make follow-up calls to people you’ve just met, and also make cold calls. You’ll find that many people will not be at work. If there are people you’ve been having trouble reaching, be sure to take advantage of this unique outreach opportunity.
PLUG IN AND TURN ON.
Job search technology has come a long way. Connect and reconnect with people on social media web sites, such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Ryze, VisualCV and Ecademy. Connect with local businesspeople in “cyberspace” and then take your connections “live” with face-to-face networking meetings.
BECOME AN OPPORTUNITY MAGNET.
Some job seekers tend to become overly negative or cynical during what they perceive as a lull in their career transition. Don’t fall into this trap. Get into positive action precisely when others are “sitting on the sidelines.” Always think and speak positively, and you’ll become an opportunity magnet — poised to attract, interview, and “hire” your next employer.
“If you’re in career transition or looking to move up at your organization, these strategies will give you a new perspective on job searching. Instead of ‘taking a vacation’ from your job search activities, take full advantage of this overlooked opportunity to move your career forward.
About The Author: Ford R. Myers, a nationally-known career expert and author of “Get The Job You Want, Even When No One’s Hiring.” He is a speaker and media personality on the topics of career management, executive coaching and employment trends.