The holiday season will soon be upon us. Many businesses have started to wind down its recruitment of new hires. This could be frustrating for active job seekers, who may feel like they have to hold off on their search efforts until the market picks up again. However, there are things you can do during this period that will put you in good stead when the market picks up after the New Year.
1 Assess and reflect
The holiday season downtime is a great opportunity for self-assessment and reflection. A few areas that you may wish to focus on:
- Assess how your job search is going – what’s been going well, what hasn’t been going well
- Assess how satisfied you are with your work and company, why or why not
- Assess where you want to be next and where you could go next
- Reflect on your job search approach
- Reflect on the type of job or company you want
- Think about how you are going to get there. What’s required and how many of these can you tick off?
- Think of yourself as a business or a brand. Do a SWOT on yourself
- Write out your key achievements, strengths and development areas – these can be examples to use in your resume, cover letter and interviews
2 Set a strategy, a goal and a plan
What is your job search strategy? What are your goals? Are you trying to move into a new industry, an upwards move, or to a job that offers you more flexibility? Each of these involves a slightly different approach to the search and to how you present yourself in the search.
Do you have a plan of attack? How do you cast the net? What’s your timeframe of finding the next job? What’s your Plan B? How are you going to tailor your resume to what you’re looking for? What’s your competitive advantage? How do you put yourself in front of the right people? Map out the 6 degrees of separation between you and your next job. How do you present yourself when asked to go to an interview? How do you know when you find the right job?
All of these questions need to have an answer to make sure total clarity that what you want and how you are going to get it make sense.
Now that you’ve thought about what you want, and you’ve also got a plan to get what you want, next step is to research. A few research suggestions:
- Where are the jobs hiding e.g. growth industries, special skills needs
- Target companies, functions, or even projects
- Read up on the industry that you want to get into – get familiar with the players, the structure and the language
- If you have a target company in mind, pretend you’re in the chair of the CEO or the CFO, think about business opportunities and challenges. This will come in handy when you start connecting yourself with the company. And this is a great exercise to do to build your business acumen, which is a highly desirable skill in a finance or accounting person!
Albert Einstein famously said, ‘insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.’ If you haven’t reviewed your resume or cover letter since your last few job interviews, maybe it’s time you had another look. If you’ve already been through your resume and cover letter with a fine-tooth comb and don’t know what to change, it could be helpful to consult other professionals (and it’s even better to find those who also work in Finance and has had a proven track record of career progression in multiple companies).
Helpful questions to ask include:
- Would you shortlist me if I had applied for a position with you? Why or why not?
- What in my resume and cover letter would pique your interest?
- What in my resume and cover letter would raise doubts in you about my suitability for the role?
- Let’s assume that you shortlisted me for an interview. Does my presentation at the interview match your expectation from reading my application? Why or why not?
- How can I make my interview responses more engaging and compelling?
Yes, everyone is on holidays, which is why this is the perfect time to work on your networking skills. Things you could do include:
- Develop your 30-second elevator pitch. If you already have one, perfect it! There’ll be a lot of gatherings during the holiday season, which gives you a great occasion to ‘practice’ your elevator pitch on people. You never know, the next person you practice with may just get you connected to your next job!
- ‘Stalk’ people i.e. start connecting with the ones that you want to get connected to and plan out a way to have a coffee with them when the holiday season is over. LinkedIn is a wonderful tool for this.
- Sign up to networking groups and events – do it now so when you feel like the motivation wanes when the market picks up again, the pre-booked events can give you a little kick
- Practice typical networking questions that can even double as interview questions, such as:
- Tell me about yourself
- What’s your background?
- What do you enjoy doing in your work?
- What have you been doing the past year?
- What’s been your greatest achievement?
The holiday season is a valuable downtime that can help you prepare for when the job market picks up again. So use this time well, and it could soon pay dividends.