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Soaring through the Season (Part 2)

HOLIDAY PARTIES

For people looking for work, casual, social gatherings might be a welcome break from the daily grind, or a source of turmoil and fear. It helps to remember that well-meaning family members or friends are not trying to make you anxious by asking about employment. Be prepared for these situations and look forward to a more relaxing time with those you love.

While the below questions are common around the holidays, they won’t end on Dec. 31st! Share your tips in the comments for more ways to answer these sometimes troubling questions.

Dreaded Question #1 (from a new contact): “What do you do?”

Here’s one way to answer. “I’m in the midst of a job transition, and am working with a job coach at JVS. It’s been a great experience so far.” Then ask them where they work and if they feel comfortable connecting on LinkedIn.

Dreaded Question #2 (from a relative or friend): “How’s it going with your job search?”

One reasonable answer is: “Things are going great. Thanks for asking.” They may press with: “But what are you actually doing?”

You might say: “Yes! Oh my gosh, let me tell you! I’m getting great support from JVS (a place downtown that offers free professional job coaching.”

How to deal with unwelcome suggestions: For example: “Have you tried putting your resume on Monster.com? I did that…”

Your well intentioned friend/family member/nemesis may keep pushing or making suggestions. You might say in response…“I’m so glad that worked for you and you want to share your strategies for success. I appreciate your support; I don’t really want to talk about my job search right now. I feel really good about my progress. When I am celebrating my new job, I’ll let you know.”

If they don’t get the hint, it is time to get them talking about themselves. Be curious about what’s up with them. Ask something about the immediate situation, “Are you enjoying this party?” Or ask about their plans for the future, “What are you looking forward to in 2015? Any tropical vacations? New babies in your family?” Again, if you know this person, ask about a relevant topic that will divert the conversation. If you want to stay on the topic of work and employment, but you are finished talking about your own search, you might ask. “How’s work going for you these days? Any exciting projects?” It may help to hear what they’re working on and give you a chance to find helpful information.

One of my favorite bloggers (Shari Harley of candidculture.com) gives great advice for answering almost any personal question. Try: “I don’t have anything to report on this front, but I’ll let you know when I do.”

Holiday parties are for celebrating and connecting with your loved ones. So have fun, meet new people, learn new things. It may not feel like it, but, SHHHH… you are networking! Being comfortable at parties, and being comfortable talking about yourself is all good practice for later when you are intentionally networking or in the active tasks of your job search.

Stay safe, and above all, enjoy yourself this season.

Soaring through the Season (Part 1)

The end of the year can be a difficult time for everyone. Over the next two weeks, we’ll be sharing some insight on how we advise JVS job seekers to navigate the season.

STAYING PRODUCTIVE while job searching over the holidays

  1. Have a game plan

Planning is the key. Take a few hours to think about what you need to get done and how you’ll do it. Don’t get bogged down and overwhelm yourself, but do consider the biggest and most pressing projects that will need attention now. When you have a list, you can make time for each task, instead of feeling pulled in multiple directions, or trying to do lots of things at once.

Multi-tasking doesn’t work. 

Having a list not only helps you get things done more quickly, it also helps ensure the quality of your work. As a bonus, because you included some foresight in your plan, you will have a head start and avoid the maddening voice in January “What am I doing with my life?!!!”

  1. Plan your time

Plan your work and work your plan. Set timers. Go to a café or the library. Focus on work during work time, and save holiday planning for the other hours. Be careful to stay focused. It can be tempting to think, “I’ll just check Amazon for that one gift …”; you may also discover that making labels for your holiday cards is productive (“I’m using my MSWord skills, and I’m getting stuff DONE!), but don’t fool yourself! Save the holiday activities for the time you allocated. You may already know what the productivity experts say (see the NPR multi-tasking commentary above). The result of less multi-tasking is that you’ll get more done and feel less stressed.

  1. Nurture yourself

This is the most important one. Recharge, reflect, refuel and relax. In your plan, build in time for things that make you happy and release stress. Spend time with loved ones. Go outside. Exercise. Treat yourself to something rewarding. Check out websites like SF Johnny Funcheap which also has an East Bay calendar.

STAYING HEALTHY

If the holidays start to get you down, PLEASE find someone to talk to. Just like you would call a dentist if your tooth started to hurt, call in professional support if you start to feel blue. Even folks with high paying jobs and seemingly perfect lives fall victim to the pressures and stress of the holiday season.

Here’s a list of some FREE and inexpensive mental health services in San Francisco. Check the San Francisco Free Help Charts for other great resources.

Oh! And be careful not to overindulge on the alcohol. Feeling hung over can create the worst pity-party ever! Please keep in mind all the ugly facts about drinking and driving, etc.

Above all, remember that the holiday season is a time for reflection, gratitude, and sharing. Having a plan for productivity and health will see you through to a bright new year!