Why the holidays are a great time to find a new job

It's true that hiring often (but not always) slows at the end of the year, but that doesn't mean it's not a great time to find a job. Why? The best way to find a job is through networking, and the festive holiday times mean you're inundated with opportunities to talk with people.

Yep. Your spouse's office party, the church Christmas pageant, the winter carnival at your child's school, the neighbor's party, and even your annual family get together at Aunt Joyce's house are all opportunities to network. Oh, and one other opportunity to network? Your own company holiday party (if you're currently employed). 

Now, of course, this type of networking needs to be a bit more subtle than calling up a former coworker and saying, "John, I'm in the market for a new job. Are there any vacant positions at your company?" You don't want everyone to hide from you as you come up and shove copies of your resume into their pockets while they have eggnog in one hand and a peppermint brownie in the other. You need to remain personable and genuinely interested in the people you are coming in contact with. But, definitely use this as an opportunity to expand your network and get the word out that you are looking for a job.

For example, start asking people about their businesses, their jobs, and what projects they are working on. People love to talk about themselves. Give them a chance to do so, and opportunities should open up for you to talk about your skills and what you're looking for. The goal, here, is to make them feel positive about your interaction, and, therefore, positive about you.

Even people that you've known for years and think wouldn't possibly be able to help you may be able to. Uncle Steve may be an accountant and you may be looking for job as a bricklayer, but accountants sometimes work with construction firms who may be looking for a bricklayer. Don't assume that just because the person standing across from you doesn't do what you do, that he can't be of help.

Another additional source of holiday networking help? The stay at home mom crowd. No, I'm not talking about finding a new nannying job. You may be surprised to find out that many a stay-at-home-mom had a thriving career prior to staying home with the children. She may still well have connections in the workforce. 

And what about your own company holiday party? This is not the place to talk about the new job you are seeking, but it is the place to build relationships and seek out new internal positions. It may be the only time you get a chance to chat with people from the neighboring department. Take advantage of that. Don't stand in the corner or talk only with the same people that you work with day in and day out.

However, remember propriety. Kathy Harris, the managing director of executive search firm Harris Allied, reminds people, "As with any opportunity to network, keep alcohol consumption in check and do not engage in gossiping. Even though holiday parties are social events, you need to maintain a professional demeanor at all times, even after-hours. This is true whether you are looking for a new job or not."

This is true even for social parties which don't involve people from work. Remember, your next door neighbor may be the key to launching your new career, but she certainly won't be inclined to help you if you get drunk, throw up on her lawn, or get into a loud political argument with her spouse. Let other people get drunk and make fools of themselves. 

Job hunting can be a full time job. Let the holiday season help you out with that instead of making it another burden of things you have to get done.