Career Breakout: Holiday Networking

The end of the year does not mean the end of career networking. Quite the opposite, NOW is the ideal time to spread the news of your value and contributions. To detail, let’s respond to a brief summary and question submitted last week by a recent college graduate, Chris Alcott:

I graduated with a business degree earlier this year and was hoping that would be enough to get a decent job offer. I’ve been unemployed for the past 18 months due to a downsizing. Looks like no one is  bringing on new employees and the only thing going on are holiday parties, gatherings, and a hiring freeze. Last November and December I resigned to wait until January to re-launch my job search and concentrate on my final semester of classes. What’s your thoughts… are the last two or three months of the year a waste of time for the unemployed? If not, what are your suggestions?”

To set the record straight once and for all, the final three months of the year are not a waste of time for the unemployed and can be quite successful.

Career fact: Seasonal help, even part time, is at a full-time high during the final quarter.

If you’re thinking a low-wage job for a month or two is below your status, crawl out from that rock you are renting and wake up. Though many seasonal positions are for a short stint, not all are. Believe it or not, a solid percentage of those hired during this time progress into full-time positions with promotions and salary increases.

Though I know little about Mr. Alcott, gaining a seasonal position will add strength to your resume by way of added customer service experience. Not only will one achieve a paycheck, the psychological benefits of getting out there and contributing to the household will create a positive impact. Being a recent graduate, many employers look at the soft skills offered and use that when measuring up candidates.

Looking to turn that seasonal position into a full-time position? Here’s a tip, employers are always searching for top-notch employees to join their team, in any industry.

Consider an employer’s perspective… what are they looking for with their seasonal bunch? Here’s another clue (or two) about the evaluation process, gaining full-time status, and what you need to highlight on and off the clock:

* An eagerness to learn and a drive to represent the company mission
* Confidence and an initiative to do what needs to be done without complaint
* To ‘think’ and ‘act’ professionally, without compromising patience, quality, or production
* Dedication, aptitude, and loyalty to perform tasks outside limited job duties
* ‘Show’ you are a keeper… and yes, your boss is watching and his or her observations will be relayed to the company elite

Career fact: Networking is at an all-time high during the holiday season.

While on the topic of networking during the holiday season, I would like to introduce a wonderful resource I have been taking advantage for years,  http://www.cultureandmanners.com.

Thanks to the polite folks at the Culture and Manners Institute, let’s review the following insight…

Networking does not mean you become a walking/talking resume. Think of networking as research. As said in previous Etiquette Tips, the best way to start and continue a conversation is to ask questions:

What do you do for a living?
How long have you been with that company?
How did you first become interested in that company?
What do you like best about your company (or job)?
How did you get started in that field?

Holiday networking is not just job research, its company research; because you learn which company has happy and satisfied employees and which ones don’t. (One person badmouthing their company might just be a malcontent. Three is a pattern.)

Here is the best part. When you ask questions of another person, you show you are taking interest in that person and that makes people feel good about them. This is what etiquette is all about.

Some people who are out of work avoid holiday parties. Never fear to admit you are out of work.  Everyone has been there. Networking skills honed in holiday season are valuable assets when you do find employment. Now get out there and party.

For those interested in receiving an Etiquette Tip of the Week, check out their site mentioned above.

The final few months of the year can prove to be career successful. In other words, Chris, don’t get discouraged and do get yourself out there!

For those interested in cutting-edge career books to guide you along your journey, visit www.edu-cs.com or go to Amazon and search Danny at ECS for a listing of available
material.

Danny Hufman, MA, CEIP, CPRW, CPCC
www.EducationCareerServices.com
West Orlando News Online, Event and Career Columnist
Got Twitter? Shadow me @dannyatecs

Advertisements

Career history, how long is too long?

Throughout the many years as a professional resume writer and career coach, one of the most often asked questions has to be: “how far back do I go on my resume?” Recently Ty Newman submitted the following:

I’m not ashamed to say that I’m an older gentleman who fell victim to downsizing earlier this year. My resume definitely needs to be updated but how far back should I highlight my career history? I’ve worked for five organizations over the past 30 years, nine years during my most recent. What guidelines should I follow?”

According to the top career management associations, it is generally recommended work histories going back beyond 10 to 15 years should not be included in your career documents. The reason for the five year spread is because of the concept “relevancy.”

Here’s the relevancy low-down:
* If the previous job position held ten years+ ago is not relevant to the job position being sought, do not include it on your resume or cover letter.
* If the previous job position held ten years+ ago is relevant to the job position being sought, include it on your resume or cover letter.

Relevant, according to Merriam-Webster.com is defined as:
*
Having significant and demonstrable bearing on the matter at hand
* Affording evidence tending to prove or disprove the matter at issue or under discussion

With this as our guide, if an individual worked at Tropical-Air of Central Florida (these folks handle all my a/c and heating needs so here’s a quick shout out) as an ace air conditioning installer ten years ago but now has decided to work as a writer with Education Career Services. The experience gained over ten years ago as an installer is not relevant to the writing position and should not be included in his or her career documents. The reasons are pretty obvious so I won’t detail them for you now.

On the same token, if the person in the example above applied for a general construction position or project manager, his or her experience as an air conditioning installer may be considered relevant and should be included.

No doubt the next question might be: “What’s the harm in putting all of the jobs I’ve ever held on the resume?”

At first sight, the logic in letting a potential employer know your professional diversity may sound pretty solid. Problem is, there’s always a second sight… Here are a few potential negatives by saying too much:

* Age discrimination; highlighting too many years on the resume may cause alarm by some employers as age discrimination has not gone away and the perception that you will cost too much to hire is always kicking around behind closed doors.
* Job hopping; training is expensive and if you “appear” to become bored or unhappy after a year or two on the job, a red flag may pop up (and not in your favor).
* Oh so yesterday; technology and operational methods change dramatically every three to five years. Thus, what was considered cutting edge ten years ago is now considered prehistoric and will be received with a shrug of the shoulders and a “how does that benefit me now?” gaze.

Enough of the marginalizing factors, let’s take a quick look at a HUGE advantage of offering a career history highlighting longevity and loyalty. Using Mr. Newman’s example above, possessing a sense of company loyalty is a factor employers look for. As mentioned above, training is expensive and when a company can reduce attrition by hiring and keeping quality employees in it for the long haul, everyone wins.

As a result and on face value, I would suggest to Ty that he go ahead and highlight his long-term career commitment and list his employment history, perhaps even to the 20 year mark provided it is relevant and progressive.

Would listing a career history going back to the 1990’s be in your favor? To be quite honest, I can’t answer that without knowing more and knowing where it is you want to go.

My point is, every situation is different and general rules are made to bend. If you would like a professional review based upon your specific circumstance, send your questions with a brief summary to us and we’ll give you the latest best practice advice.

For those interested in cutting-edge career books to guide you along your journey, visit www.edu-cs.com or go to Amazon and search Danny at ECS for a listing of available material.

Danny Hufman, MA, CEIP, CPRW, CPCC
www.EducationCareerServices.com
West Orlando News Online, Event and Career Columnist
Got Twitter? Shadow me @dannyatecs