How-To Guide for Surviving Holiday Career Challenges

Sunday Dec. 1st, 2013

Thanksgiving has passed, catapulting us into the thick of the holiday season like a terrified kid off of Mall-Santa’s lap. As you trim the tree and dangle precariously from the roof to make your home shine like the North Star, remember that your career doesn’t stop evolving just because it’s gift wrapping time. Whether you’re looking for work, vying for the next promotion, or simply dreaming of the day you’ll get to “do what you love,” here are some tips to survive the holidays without losing site of the long-term.
Reset your expectations. While companies are still hiring, it’s common to see a decrease in productivity the last month of the year. Employees—HR staff included—are taking time off. This often translates to slower hiring cycles. The hiring process in October might take twenty days while in December it could push back to January thanks to vacations.

Another reason hiring processes can take longer this time of year is due to the end of year push. Many companies work on a yearly cycle making December crunch time for corporate goals. Hiring may be set on the backburner. Don’t be dismayed if you aren’t getting a response and don’t assume the job has gone to someone else. You just might be surprised by a request for interview after the first of the New Year.

Reset your expectations again. While some companies will put off hiring through the holidays, there are plenty of companies in desperate need of staff. To that end, don’t get lazy in your job search. Keep an eye on job boards and an ear to the ground. You may see fewer listings through December but that doesn’t mean that the perfect job won’t appear anyway.

Take advantage of the holiday mayhem. In retail, this time of year is intense. Consider taking a part-time, temporary job to pad your wallet while you wait for hiring to return to full swing. Plus, maybe you’ll get a discount from your favorite retailer making Christmas buying a little sweeter.

Hiring for holidays

Use those holiday parties as an opportunity to network. Networking is the absolute, most effective approach to landing an interview. So, put on your ugly Rudolf sweater with the blinking light for the nose and shake some hands. Be curious. Ask people about their jobs and their companies. Subtly (or not so subtly) let them know you are on the market.

Ask Santa for help. Instead of obligatory, pointless gift receiving of candles and dishtowels, request a “Job Seeker” membership on LinkedIn or a gift certificate for professional resume writing. If you are still trying to figure out what type of elf you want to be when you grow up, ask for a contribution to career coaching sessions in lieu of the annual Crocs replacements.

‘Tis the season for giving. Give of your time and volunteer at one of many holiday opportunities. As I’ve mentioned before, volunteering is an excellent opportunity to meet potential employers and bolster your employable job skills. Plus, Santa will notice and bump you up a notch on his “Nice” list.

Indulge in fudge and reflection by the fire. As the end of the year approaches and you find that you haven’t yet made the changes in your career you’d hoped, take a moment to reflect. What have you done that was successful? How can you build on those successes or repeat them? What didn’t work? Why didn’t it work and how can you avoid the same mistakes? Are there job search techniques you haven’t tried yet? Are there people from your past you haven’t reached out to? Reflection can provide immense clarity and direction.

Move onto eggnog and make a plan. Once you’ve reflected, pour a creamy drink and start planning. What can you do before the end of the year to set yourself up for success starting January 1st? What do you need to research? Companies? Job roles? Job boards? Research and plan, then put it all in writing with start and end dates. Be organized and be successful.

Maximize the gift of extra time off. Give yourself a little present by spending some vacation time working on your resume and cover letter (again) but this time without the pressure of a job application. Read it backwards (seriously, this will give you an entirely different perspective of what your resume is actually saying to a reader). Try a different format and layout. Rework your content to make sure your resume packs the biggest punch in the shortest amount of time. Two hours of distraction-free, pressure-free resume tweaking is almost as good as Dynafit bindings under the tree!

Take a break and just enjoy the merriment. Block out some “today-I’m-just-me-and-not-my-job-search” time, after all, you have a few other things on your plate this month. Put it down. Walk away. Spend time with family and friends. Take part in your long-held traditions and maybe explore some new ones. Do something creative and fun. Dream about your future without stressing about the present (or presents).

I’ll close out 2013 by telling you this: I understand how it feels to struggle to make a change, to want more from your career, and to dream of pursing your passions. I also know what it’s like to conquer each of those challenges and the wonderful feeling of contentment and joy that follows. Now, I find delight in the opportunity to share my knowledge and experience and to have you—the readers—benefit, grow, and find a deeper happiness. So, thank you for reading!
I wish you a loving holiday season and a newfound spark in the New Year!

Liz Krause Williams is a professional resume writer, LinkedIn profile writer, and career strategist helping job seekers and brand-building professionals move forward with confidence as they pursue career ambitions. Learn more at and follow Liz at