The holidays can be a tough time for job seekers, especially if you’ve been looking for a long time. At a time that expects you to feel celebratory, it may be hard to smile at a party when asked what you do if your answer is “I’m looking for work.” Even worse if the person looks at you with pity … or at least that’s how it feels to you.
Then there’s the question about whether it’s even worth looking for a job at a time when holiday parties seem to be the main focus, and the hiring process often slows way down. Wouldn’t it be better to just give yourself a break and start fresh in January, when lots of new jobs should start showing up?
First let’s talk about those blues
You are not alone in feeling less than enthusiastic about your job search. These are probably at least some of things you might be thinking or feeling:
- I’m a failure
- People will think I’m a loser
- People won’t want to be around me
- I don’t really feel like being around people
- I might as well give up because no one is hiring now
- I’m never going to get a job again
What I want you to know is that all those feelings are very normal. It’s easy for self-doubt to creep in, especially when you’re supposed to be having fun with people who aren’t worried about how they’re going to pay their bills.
And as much as you’d like to lose yourself in the moment — and probably try your best to do so — it’s not easy to forget what you’ve been thinking about every single day for many long months: “Where’s MY job?”
Let’s have a reality check
While I can’t tell you when your next job is coming, I can tell you that I and many people I know have had those exact same thoughts. And eventually a job showed up. In my case it wasn’t always the dream job (although sometimes it was), but I did my best and got myself to a job I really did want.
And not everyone’s life is going smoothly, even if they are employed. Don’t assume you’re the only one going through hard times. And don’t assume they’re thinking more about you than themselves — and whether they’re even totally in a party mood either.
Also, good people don’t look down on you for things like this. But they will appreciate if you can tell your job search story in a way that engages them in where you want to go rather than how awful things are now. You may even find a networking connection this way.
This is not to say that you can’t say it’s tough out there in job search land. Reality is a good connector. But then, if you can, get to a more fun and positive part of the story, like what you’re hoping to find or maybe a funny story along the way.
Or if that feels too sensitive, just ask them about themselves or something you both enjoy talking about. You’ll both have a better time that way. And you sure do deserve a little time off for fun — or just connecting with good people who aren’t busy judging your resume!
So what about the job search part?
Does your application even get read at this time of year?
If an employer needs to fill a job early next year, you can rest assured that someone is in charge of reviewing resumes and job applications. They can still attend the parties, but they also have their own job to do if they are part of the hiring team.
Starting fresh in January may feel like the right timing for you, but the employer with a job opening has to get things going well before that to have staff in place for a new budget year.
And don’t forget seasonal work
Although it may not be your dream job, if things have been slow in your job search, taking seasonal work, even part-time, has actually turned out to be a foot in the door for some job seekers. If you do a great job, they may wind up keeping you on or at least remember you when a full-time opening comes up.
This is also a great chance to make new connections. The people you meet may know of other jobs elsewhere. This is true also of volunteer work, if that feels more in tune with you and your job goals.
Even the simple act of keeping busy and feeling more productive can help make you feel a whole lot better … and also make for some interesting holiday party stories.
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