From FlexJobs: How Holiday Parties Can Help (or Hurt) a Job Search

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As A Job Seeker, Here Are Some Ways To Use Holiday Festivities To Help With Job Searching

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"Although hiring typically slows down between Thanksgiving and New Years, one way job seekers can use the seasonal distractions to actually help their job search is through holiday parties,” said Sara Sutton Fell, Founder and CEO of FlexJobs.

With holiday season in full swing, job seekers should consider how they can capitalize on the festivities to further their job search.

“Although hiring typically slows down between Thanksgiving and New Years, one way job seekers can use the seasonal distractions to actually help their job search is through holiday parties,” said Sara Sutton Fell, Founder and CEO of FlexJobs, the leading online service for professionals seeking telecommuting, flexible schedule, part-time, and freelance jobs. “Festive get-togethers of all sizes can provide an excellent opportunity to nurture your professional network, practicing key interview skills, and gather information that could help your own job search. However, the party setting can also backfire on job seekers if they mishandle the opportunity, so it’s equally important to avoid behaviors that can create a negative impression.”

Here are tips on how holiday parties can help the job search process:

Practice conversational skills.
Even if every conversation isn’t appropriate to advance job search prospects, every conversation is an opportunity to hone conversation skills. Practice asking questions, using active listening techniques, and remembering people’s names.

Ask questions about job search and hiring experience.
Even when attending a party where no one works in an industry or job relevant to your interests, still ask general questions, such as the ones below, to inspire your own job search.

  • How did you find your last job?
  • What are the strangest job interview questions you’ve been asked?
  • Have you ever hired someone? What makes a person stand out to you?

Network, network, network.
Networking is known as the cornerstone to a successful job search, and rightly so. Holiday parties provide a unique time to meet new people, so take advantage of the festive atmosphere and strike up conversations with folks outside typical social circles.
Follow up with coffee meetings or informational interviews.

Invite both old and new contacts to coffee the following week.
If you meet people whose jobs or companies are of particular interest, try and schedule an informational interview. Ask past colleagues if they’ll be a professional reference.The holidays bring out people’s generosity, which is great for a job search.

Utilize LinkedIn
Within a day or two of meeting, connect on LinkedIn. Personalize the generic message requesting to connect and include where you met them and what was discussed. As the holidays fly by, it won’t be easy to remember all the new faces, but LinkedIn is a great way to keep track of them to foster the relationship in 2015.

Perfect your professional dress.
Wear an accessory or an outfit you’re considering for an interview, and ask close friends for honest feedback. Also take note of any outfits at the party that would work well for interviews. What is appealing about them? How could that outfit work for you?

On the flipside, there are also a number of ways a holiday party could actually hurt a job search, so avoid these errors.
Four ways holiday parties can hurt the job search process.

Make it all about you.
It’s tempting to just talk about yourself when you’re nervous or self-conscious, so develop a mental list of questions beforehand to jump start a conversation. Or, engage in group conversations where there's less pressure to speak, and more opportunity to listen to other people’s questions and answers instead.

Bash a former employer or manager.
A holiday party is not the time to unload past frustrations with a former employer or manager. Venting a little bit in friendly conversation is fine, but refrain from using specific company or colleague names.

Bring everybody down.
When a job search runs through the holiday season, it's normal to feel stressed. Holiday parties, however, are not the place bring up financial troubles, or a flailing search for a new job. Keep the conversations light and positive, no matter how difficult that seems.

Imbibe too heavily.
The nerves, the awkward conversations, the festivities, the lights--it’s a perfect situation to drink too much. When accepting a glass of holiday cheer, alternate that beverage with a glass of water to avoid making a poor, unprofessional impression.

To request additional information, please contact Kathy Gardner at kgardner@flexjobs.com.

About FlexJobs
FlexJobs is the leading online service for professionals seeking telecommuting, flexible schedule, part-time, and freelance jobs. With flexible job listings in over 100 career categories, and opportunities ranging from entry-level to executive, freelance to full-time, FlexJobs offers job-seekers a safe, easy, and efficient way to find professional and legitimate flexible job listings. Having helped over 900,000 people in their job searches, FlexJobs has has appeared on CNN, Good Morning America, Marketplace Money, and many other trusted media outlets. FlexJobs is also a proud partner in the 1 Million for Work Flexibility initiative, which seeks to unite people advocating for work flexibility.

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Kathy Gardner
FlexJobs
+1 (203) 253-9531
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