Searching for your next job is tough. It can be even harder during the holiday season when you are back and forth to various family get-togethers. Family and events aside, depending on your industry- this is a great time to not slow down the momentum of applications. Many companies are still scheduling interviews and hiring at the end of November through late December, so don’t think everyone at your dream organizations are gone on vacation. Keep at it; make sure your application materials are targeted for the open position and that you still keep in contact with your network (even if it is just to drop them a line wishing them a safe and happy holiday season!) You may be surprised at the response rate you could receive.
As far as dealing with aunts and uncles, grandparents, etc… Assume that everyone means well, and people may just be asking for small talk’s sake and don’t mean any ill will by it.
If family asks, “How’s the job search going?” and it is the last thing you want to talk about due to stress, you could just state something polite and noncommittal such as, “I’m still waiting to hear back from a few places, but I also had the best time with (insert hobby, trip, reuniting with an old friend, event here) the other day.” If a family member is just asking to make small talk, the topic change is up to you. That way, no one feels uncomfortable and if you’re talking about something you love, it will be an easy transition.
Unemployment statistics and the economy are also quite often topics on the news, so these transitions are especially helpful when you want to de-escalate some of your family members; specifically, the ones that wait for these social functions all year long so they finally have a platform for their offensive political and religious beliefs that are piecemeal of the evening news and sensationalist magazines headlines at the checkout lanes of the local grocery store. Aunt Ellen getting loud again, polarizing the family with her views? “Cousin Sarah, this stuffing is delicious! Tell me the recipe?”
Some family members believe they know everything about the job market, even though they have never had to conduct a serious job search in the 21st century. As a job seeker, you know a LOT has changed in the last ten years. You can’t walk in and shake hands with a complete stranger anymore, and many places tell you that they don’t take phone calls- and reroute you to apply online. Once online, you have to provide personal details for an hour just to register with the site before you even begin the timed application, from which you may or may not hear back. Yeah, a lot has changed, to say the least.
Some aspects of job search, however, have not changed. Networking has been the oldest way to job search and to this day, it is still the most successful. Networking opportunities amongst family may be a beneficial avenue you have yet to pursue. Just to clarify, I am not advocating you put your cousin Joe as your professional reference, but perhaps Joe has a friend who has a company that could use someone with your skill set. Joe could set up the phone interview, and you could take it from there. The key here is that everyone must know you are looking for a job, and understand what you can offer, because you never know who may know who that can help you find your next position.
Time with Family
Whether you choose to discuss your job search or not, it is entirely up to you and what is comfortable for you. Family tends to give you the hardest time because if you’re a member of a loving group of people, everyone wants the best for one another. Take this time to see the people you haven’t seen in far too long, and enjoy the time you get to spend with them. Remember that whether you choose to discuss your job search or not, you always need to keep a portion of time each week just for yourself and your own rejuvenation. Staying motivated and on top of your search is admirable, but don’t feel guilty for taking one day off to spend with loved ones. For that, I hope everyone has a safe, happy, and fun holiday season!