Career Advice for the Holidays

 I’m a big proponent of reading as much as I possibly can because you never know where the inspiration for a story will strike. The upside is I use a lot of different sources: newspapers, magazines, blogs, even interview transcripts from television and radio. The downside is that sometimes I find myself wracking my brain, wondering exactly where I read a particular nugget of information that I’d like to use or pass on.

One of my resources is the Wall Street Journal. I don’t agree with their editorial page but their news reporting is very good. For example, the Journal had a page 1 story yesterday on the future of big pharma (hint: it doesn’t look good) that I thought complemented this week’s C&EN cover story written by my colleague Susan Ainsworth.

What people might not know is that the Journal also has useful career content posted at at no cost (access to the online Journal is by paid subscription). It may not be specific to chemistry or chemists but there’s always career advice that transcends professions.

Recently columnist Perri Capell fielded this question: “What advice do you have about how to approach the job market during the holiday season?”

Her response: “It’s a myth that hiring slows down between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. Many offers are made during the holiday season as managers try to fill jobs before their budgets expire.” By staying active, you’ll have an advantage over candidates who decide to take a holiday break from their job searches.

Capell adds: “Hiring managers prefer to find candidates through referrals or chance meetings, so they don’t need to advertise or employ recruiters to fill openings. Your goal as a job hunter should be to personally meet as many potential employers as possible at this pre-advertising stage. By meeting and talking with current and new contacts, you may receive important referrals or an inside track on potential opportunities.

“The process is networking, of course. And it’s easier to do it during the holidays than at other times of the year because people tend to be more open and relaxed than at other seasons. Many organizations hold annual holiday events, and attendees often are encouraged to bring guests. Ask friends or relatives to invite you to December gatherings of such groups as the Chamber of Commerce, Rotary Club or Toastmasters. Also attend meetings of professional groups in your industry or function, neighborhood gatherings and church open houses where you can mingle.”

Here are three top rules that job seekers need to keep in mind for any networking scenario: Thank the person who provided an introduction for you, and update him or her on your progress. Be clear about exactly how contacts can help you and what a potential benefit could be for them. Avoid last-minute networking—build relationships before you need them. When done well, networking can yield dividends for your job search.

Corinne Marasco is Senior Editor for ACS News & Special Features at Chemical & Engineering News.

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