We’re at that stressful time of year to be out of work in Canada; the combination of Christmas, the shortest days of the year, poor weather and unemployment has the potential to really bring people down. Those short days mean you often wake up and travel to work in the dark and drive home in the dark. In a matter of weeks the bills from the holidays will arrive, or if you were frugal, you’re feeling the guilt of being a Scrooge. Adding insult to injury, you might find that other people are going around with a good deal of happiness as they answer the frequent, “So how was Christmas?” question.
Like every other moment in your life, you’ve got a decision to make; do you pack in the job search and give up until March when the snows typically recede, or do you somehow find that energy somewhere deep down inside and kick your job search up a gear?
Knowing I’m an Employment Counsellor, you can probably guess which approach I’m advocating for. There really is never a bad time to job search in my opinion, but the reasons for job searching at any time of the year vary. You see because it’s competitive out there with so many people looking for work, many job seekers will actually remove themselves from the process of job searching at this time of year. Despite being unemployed, they get down because of the factors I laid out in the opening paragraph and stop looking.
Some people give themselves a holiday from looking for work between Christmas and New Years and then rationalize their behaviour even further by staying indoors if the weather looks nasty. Snow and slush, winter winds, dropping temperatures; there’s every reason to just stay inside and hibernate.
However, there’s an advantage for you who are unemployed if you have the wisdom and the motivation to seize it. History is full of examples of people who found something inside themselves and pushed on when everyone around them gave in and gave up. So if your family or friends are giving you their advice to take a break from your job search and pack it in for a few weeks, be cautious about accepting that advice and giving in. Fight with everything you can and ask them instead not to go soft on you when you need their encouragement the most to keep going. After all, if the people who are looking for work and competing for jobs with you are sitting at home with their feet up watching television, this is precisely the break you need to get an edge up on them!
“No one is hiring at this time of year; employers are all on vacation anyhow.” This is the kind of bad advice your mom might give you because she is so concerned about how stressed you are, how haggard you look, and she means well but unfortunately is misinformed. If you make a hot chocolate and sit down to relax with her and find your smile you make her feel comforted for a bit, but you don’t change your unemployment status doing this. It’s a smokescreen of illusion; this happy picture of you sitting content.
This is the very time to scour the job boards of both the companies you wish to work for and the employment job sites. These are the days when you’ll find Employment Counsellors more accessible, able to spend more time with you, and to really portray yourself as a serious job hunter, which in turn makes helping you even more attractive to those like me in the business of helping you find a job!
On the nastiest of days with the winter winds howling and the snow accumulating, or the freezing rain pelting down, you still have choices if you’re not going out. While employers may or may not be holding interviews, they certainly may still be gathering the applications of people from which to make their short lists, and they then call these folks in for early January interviews. Wait until January to start applying and you’re showing up to the party too late; only a few skeptical offerings are left.
Use New Year’s Eve parties as your chance to socialize and mingle, but also as a chance to network and develop some contacts. Conduct yourself with some class and avoid over-indulging in the spirits so you keep your wits about you because just like Santa, you never know who else is watching you!
Also use this time to register for any free or inexpensive training in January. Take a 1 day course for example in the first week or two of the New Year and by adding it to your resume, you’re one of the first people to have 2016 on your resume in 2016 which keeps you relevant.
In addition to actually applying for jobs, you can be taking stock of your skills, updating your resume, contacting references, working on eliminating some of your job search barriers, upgrading your education, looking into volunteering, look at some online cover letter samples, and that’s just the obvious things that come to mind.
The hardest part of job searching is staying self-motivated and fighting through frustration and the anxiety that comes with being out of work. Whenever you find yourself ready to give up, remember why you started looking in the first place.