Dealing with Questions during your Holiday #JobSearch

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.

Topic Switch

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?”

Networking

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!

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#Reference Check

By George Bernocco, CPRW

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The more people you recruit in your job search, the better chances of you finding a job. So now you have an opportunity in your sight. You are applying for it when it asks you to submit a list of references. References are the employer’s way of ensuring what they see is what they’ll get from you. Nothing predicts future behavior like the past, and that is what the employer is trying to ascertain. Here are some pieces of advice when it comes to references:

Ask First

One sure way to catch the employer and the reference off guard is not tell the reference to expect the call. A reference who is unprepared, and who might not even recognize your name at first, will only hurt you. Asking for help is difficult, but it is crucial to get those references to vouch for your skills. Most employers expect you to have at least three references ready for them at a moment’s notice. Asking first will let you know if the reference is available, and willing, to attest to your skills. Be prepared if they are not willing to provide you with a quality reference and have other candidates in mind. Also ask the references what they might say about you, just so you have an idea.

Professional before Personal

Always try to obtain professional references, and list them first. Professional references do not have to be just supervisors or managers. Professional can be coworkers, clients or employees who worked for you. Also remember that there are professional references if you’ve volunteered, or worked at an internship/externship. Personal references can provide quality information about you to the employer, and usually can attest to your soft skills, such as being friendly, personable, reliable, etc. They can be your friends, college advisers, members of your church, group members or neighbors. Family members are frowned upon when you provide references. If you truly believe you do not have any quality references, then you start building a network. Start volunteering, or joining networking groups, to build a reference list.

Current Information

Make sure you have your reference’s current information. Giving an employer a number that is no longer in service will only reflect poorly on your part. Ask your reference what their current title is, agree on a number for how long you’ve known each other and even ask for an e-mail address to give to the employer. When you provide the employer with up to date current information, the reference check will go smoothly on your part.

Give them Information

Let your references know what job you’re applying for. They can better vouch for you when they know what it is you want to do. Even offer to send them a copy of your resume and the job posting. If they use the same keywords as your resume and the job posting have, you have successfully proven to the employer that your skills can be verified.

Reference Letters

If you have a reference that will be unavailable, ask for them to write a reference letter. Let the employer know that your reference is unavailable and you have a letter, but still provide the employer with contact information of the reference. If you have reference letters as well as live person references, ask the employer if they would like the letters. Do not assume that the reference letters can replace the employer calling or e-mailing your reference unless that person is unavailable and has written a letter on their behalf. It would not be uncommon for your reference to ask you to write a recommendation letter about yourself and send it to them to review and sign. Just make sure you provide the reference with a reasonable date to give you the letter. Do not expect a reference letter at the exact time the job posting expires or a minute before you leave for your interview. Remember that your references have their own lives and may not make the letter their top priority. By providing a reasonable date, it gives your reference a timetable to work on it and also gives you time to ask someone else if they cannot succeed.

LinkedIn

The business oriented social networking site allows your connections to vouch for your skills. By providing the employer a link to your LinkedIn profile, they can have access to people who have written recommendations for you on that site. The key to getting recommendations is writing recommendations for others. If they can see that people not only highly recommend you, but endorse your skills as well, it will assist you with getting the job.

Thank You

Always thank your references for any service they provided. You do not want to burn your bridges by coming off as ungrateful. Send a letter, an e-mail or give them a call to show them that you appreciate the time they took to help you. In case the job does not pan out, you may be able to utilize them for other opportunities in the future.