Holiday Recharge (Parts 1-3)
© Douglas E. Welch 1998
As I am sure many of you have found, the holidays are not a good
time to be looking for a job. Many companies go into a slow down
and the press for filling positions is at a low ebb. If the holiday
season coincides with the end of the fiscal year the condition
gets even worse. Budgets are spent and many departments are still
waiting to see what their budget will be for the next year. Most
companies aren?t looking any further than the next holiday party.
This condition won?t right itself fully until after New Year?s
While the holidays can make it harder to find a job they become
a perfect time to concentrate on yourself. It is time to take
stock in your present situation, recharge your batteries, catch
up on your reading and other preparations for the job-hunting
blitz you will launch in the New Year.
Recharge, relax and rest
Many of you have worn yourself out searching for your first or
next great job. You have cranked out the resumes, gone on countless
interviews and made hundreds of phone calls. Everyone needs a
little time to recharge their batteries and the holiday season
is one of the best.
First, pick one activity that you have wanted to do all year,
then, go out and do it! Put it on the calendar, plan for it and
don?t let anything get in your way. Perhaps you have wanted to
go hiking. Put your hiking shoes by the door, get up early the
next day and go. You will find that time away from your job search
and other pressures can really help clear your mind and might
even give you further direction. Sometimes we are so caught up
in our current state of affairs that we lose sight of what we
are truly trying to achieve.
Next, relax. Take one day to do nothing. Don?t answer your email,
your phone, your fax or even your door. Get away from your normal,
everyday life, even if it is just for an hour. Too often you spin
in circles trying to accomplish everything at once and fail to
take the time your mind and your body need to recover from all
Finally, rest. Your effectiveness is reduced dramatically when
you are tired. Trying to accomplish something when you are worn
out almost guarantees that you will have to do it again. Don?t
cause yourself double work. Take some time to rest, then attack
the project when you are fresh.
Resting involves getting enough sleep each night. Driving yourself
with "all-nighters" is a sure prescription for a crash. Once you
feel your concentration begin to falter, go to bed.
Watch what you eat during the holiday season. All the sweets and
heavy food associated with the holidays can slow you down and
make you even more tired. It is OK to indulge a little but always
remember that too much of a good thing becomes a bad thing.
Last week I talked about what you can do to help recharge your
physical side. This week I will concentrate on the mental side.
The slow holiday period can be an excellent opportunity to add
to your skills so that you are even more marketable when you renew
your job search int he New Year.
How many magazines and books have piled up on your desk in the
last few months? If you are following some prescriptions I made
in earlier columns about keeping current through reading, you
should have quite a few items waiting to be read. If employers
are slow in returning your phone calls or the open positions are
currently lacking, invest some time in yourself. Catch up on all
the reading you can.
While reading to increase your high-tech skills is beneficial,
throw a few new items into the mix. Read that novel you have always
wanted to read. Read magazines from other industries. Read the
newspaper. Mix it up and you will find that your mental state
will be recharged without being overloaded. You call on your mind
for the creative ideas that help you succeed. If you have starved
your mind by not reading, or glutted it on one topic, it reduces
your ability to create and succeed. A variety of material refills
the well of your creativity and gives you resources to call upon
when you need them most.
If you are like me you are probably inundated with mail offering
this or that computer class. Perhaps you are working towards an
MSCE or CNE certification. Why not take the slow holiday period
to concentrate on these studies. While your social calendar may
be more full, your work life usually slows down during the holidays
(unless you are in retail, of course). Instead of anxiously awaiting
that next phone call or interview why not sign up for a few classes.
Better yet, why not start a self-study program in an area that
interests you. You can do this by buying a book on the topic or
merely searching your local library and the Internet for information
on the topic. Pick something that has interested you for a long
time and immerse yourself in it. Perhaps you want to learn a second
language, a new programming tool or the latest, greatest database
product. Now is the time to jump in and swim around.
Your most difficult task for the holiday season has nothing to
do with the proactive methods used in gaining a new job. In fact,
the most difficult task of all is to stop worrying about your
job search entirely.
In the past, I would often find myself wondering why my resumes
weren?t garnering attention, why no one was calling me back for
an interview, why the job listings in the newspapers had become
so sparse. The truth is, and I still have to remind myself of
this fact today, nearly all business slows down during the holidays.
There is nothing you can do about it. Don?t let yourself become
anxious or worried.
The best thing you can do is work on yourself, prepare your attack
plan for the New Year and enjoy yourself!
Next Week: An Attack Plan for your 1999 Job Search
Over the last few weeks I have described ways of making it through
the holidays without your career worries clouding this happy time
of year. I fully believe that one of the best cures for worry
or depression is to throw yourself into your work. Somehow, even
the smallest accomplishments can help you feel better about yourself
and your life.
Most of us have heard the story about the terrible Winter that
Washington and his troops spent in Valley Forge during the Revolutionary
War. I can almost guarantee you that one of the factors that sustained
these men through that winter was their mental planning for their
campaign once spring arrived. The same approach can help you get
through the holiday season and prepare yourself for your newly
energized attack on your career.
One of the first preparations you can do is update your resume,
reference letters and other job search information. Since business
is slow people might even have more time to write those letters.
Have you had any new successes since you last updated your resume?
Did you get any new reference letters? Do you need to update or
improve your cover letter? Take this time to hone these items
into the sharpest point possible.
You can also take this time to research opportunities you may
have missed in the past. Are their internships you haven?t heard
of before? Are companies expanding their workforce? Are they reducing
it? Do they have a new product coming to market? As you are reading
your trade magazines, newspapers and books, make notes to yourself
about items you should research more deeply. Take the time to
make opportunities for yourself. Don?t wait for them to come knocking
on your door.
No matter where you spend your holidays always be on the lookout
for people who can help you achieve you career goals. We probably
meet more new people during the holiday party period than anytime
else during the year. Listen to the conversations going on around
you. Are there people who work in the industry you want to work
in? Do they work at a company you are trying to interview with?
Would they be willing to be a mentor for you?
That said, this is not the time to push yourself on some unsuspecting
person. Your only goal at this stage of the game is to get to
know them as a person. Establish a relationship first, then you
will have the ability to contact these people when you are in
need of assistance. Our friends are always a good source of career
information and opportunities. Take the time to develop some new
Taking stock of our past year and our life is a common year-end
pastime. Instead of becoming bogged down in what you haven?t accomplished,
look to what you want to accomplish in the coming year. Develop
a game plan. Develop a play book. Develop yourself and you are
destined to find success in 1999.
Douglas E. Welch is a freelance writer and computer consultant
in Van Nuys, California. Readers can discuss career issues with
other readers by joining the Career Opportunities Discussion on
Douglas' web page at: http://www.welchwrite.com/
He can reached via email at email@example.com