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Careers Café

Why the holidays may be the best time of year to advance your career


This is a guest post by Byrne Luft of Kelly Services.

The holiday season is traditionally a good time to relax, reflect and recharge. But it can also be a good time for networking. Individuals who want to advance their careers or find new jobs can take advantage of professional and office gatherings during this time to get leads and make connections that may set them up for success in the New Year.

This is true for any professional, especially those in high-demand and competitive occupations such as science and engineering. And holiday gatherings, with their low-key atmospheres, are some of the best places to learn about openings and possibly see someone you know – or meet someone – who is looking for professional or technical talent. Here are a few tips job seekers can consider to help them find their perfect job:


  • Look for unconventional opportunities



Holiday office parties and networking events are good times to talk to people in your company whom you want to impress. But gatherings with friends and family, or lunches or coffee with peers can be just as important to your search. So put yourself out there – don’t be shy about subtly letting those closest to you know you’re interested in advancing your career or looking for a new opportunity.


  • Concentrate on building relationships



Networking is all about creating win-win situations.  Don’t move too fast and don’t “sell.” You should try to establish a connection and impress people with your knowledge of your field. Remember, as much as you share about yourself, give others the opportunity to talk about themselves and their companies. If you don’t, people will lose interest because they will not see a relationship with you as mutually beneficial.


  • Come prepared



There’s nothing worse for conversation than introducing yourself and drawing a blank on what to say next. That’s why it’s important to have some conversation starters up your sleeve. General ice breakers about the weather or a local sports team, can be used in any setting, while more specific statements might be more appropriate at organized events. If you know ahead of time that you’ll be meeting certain people, review their LinkedIn profiles for things you have in common.


  • Be who you are. But be the best you



In other words, be authentic – but remember where you are. If you tend to be optimistic, outgoing, enthusiastic and inquisitive, you have an advantage. However, if your personality is more introverted or pessimistic, do your best to stay positive. Positivity and confidence are attractive traits no matter what the setting. Resist the urge to complain about work and try to be upbeat with people you want to impress.


  • Know your elevator pitch



If you’re looking for a new job or to advance within your company, rehearse your “elevator pitch” about your accomplishments and goals. This is a short, clear and concise summation – 30 seconds is the ideal length – that highlights your key attributes and successes and tells why you’re the perfect person for positions that might be available. Much like a well-crafted LinkedIn profile, your elevator pitch should get to the point without being boastful. You should be able to recall it in any setting, from job interviews to parties.

Following up is also a must. Whenever you meet someone new, you should follow up within 48 hours. Send that person a well-written message expressing how nice it was to meet him or her, and suggest keeping in touch. If you’d like to meet up again, state your reason for meeting and suggest a couple of times and dates early in the New Year. And remember, always be on time!

Byrne Luft is the country general manager at Kelly Services (Canada), Ltd., and has over 20 years of staffing industry experience. Kelly Services is a global leader in providing workforce solutions, including outsourcing and consulting services, as well as staffing on a temporary, temporary-to-hire, and direct-hire basis.
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