Changing jobs does not happen overnight. It requires planning, research, and hard work. Changing careers takes even longer – years, in many cases. Most of that time is spent in introspection (determining what you like and don’t like, and what skills you have), and investigation (determining what types of things are needed in industry). Where those two intersect is your dream job, but it can take a long time to put all the pieces in place (see Switching Careers Takes Time But May Be Well Worth the Wait).
But because the process takes so long, it’s important to keep it moving. If you’re not in retail, this time of year can be a little more relaxed, giving you time to investigate your options.
Many recruiters actually recommend stepping up your job search at the end of the year, to set yourself apart from all those who put their search on hold for the holidays. With less competition and generally good moods, it can be easier to get the attention of the people with whom you want to connect. Even if companies are not hiring, building relationships with key players now can set the stage for the future.
Family, community, and business groups often host holiday gatherings. These can be great places to reconnect with people you know, meet new people, and gather information. As with most things, the more you
prepare before you go, the better you’ll be able to take advantage of the event. While small talk is fine, what you really want to do is Start Meaningful Conversations with people, and build relationships for the future. Think of these events as places to meet interesting people, not places to find a job, and you’ll do much better.
Holiday cards are another great way to foster relationships. On a practical level, you find out if the postal address still works, and there’s something more personal about a physical card than a group of electrons in an email. Adding a few words of personalization goes a long way towards showing your colleagues that you remember and value them, and the relationship.