Is Your End-of-Year Career Plan in Good Shape?

The thought that no one hires toward the end of the year is a topic I’ve covered before, but I think it’s worth another quick look as Christmas and other holiday celebrations take center-stage in people’s lives.

Year-End Hiring Dormant or Nearly So?

Conventional wisdom often says that you might as well “hang it up” until at least the first of the new year as far as job searching or other career management activities goes. However, as I’ve said before, I’ve had clients who proved this theory to be less than solid. Hiring probably does slow down, although how much is perhaps arguable, but it doesn’t necessarily stop.

What might happen if you do put your job search or other career-related activities on hold until after the holidays is that someone else who’s more active and better prepared will land the job you could have filled quite well. That doesn’t mean they’re a better performer on the job than you are–just that they didn’t wait for a “better” time.

When Should You Look for a Job?

What’s the best time of year to look for a job? According to Nick Corcodillos of Ask The Headhunter, it’s now (that year-end period where “nothing is happening”).

In his article, ‘Tis the season to land the right job,” Corcodillos says, “Companies are indeed hiring. They’re just not doing it the way you’d expect. They’re in a hurry but they don’t want to make mistakes….Some managers are under great pressure to fill precious slots before the year ends and budgets close (or are cut). Thus, employers are not hiring slowly because they can, but because they can’t get the right candidates.”

If you follow his reasoning, you should be actively seeking and establishing relationships that lead you to people within the organizations you want to target. Corcodillos emphasizes the fact that many hires come through trusted referrals and personal contacts with influencers and decision-makers.

As he puts it, “If you are the candidate a manager needs, you can capitalize on the rush to hire….Be ready to articulate your value, but do it face-to-face or on the phone.”

Along with this comes the need to recognize and acknowledge that there probably aren’t 50 or 100 jobs out there that you’d be the perfect candidate for. If you do it right, you only need–and can only take–one job at a time. That makes selectivity in your job search approach a high priority in terms of success probability.

Definition of Insanity

One definition of insanity goes something like this: Doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting different results. It applies just as well to your job search and career management planning.

Maybe now is the time to re-think what you’ve been doing, especially if your answer to the question, “So how’s that working for you?” is “not so great.” Make 2015 your year-to-remember for all the right reasons.

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Resumes vs. Personal Introductions

As a professional resume writer, I have to acknowledge up front that I have a bit of bias on the subject of resumes–especially when I read (as I usually do) a column by Ask The Headhunter’s Nick Corcodillos, who basically considers resumes most suitable as garbage-can liners!

In a recent post, titled “The Magic Resume Calculator: Save 95% of your job hunting time!,” Corcodillos does, however, make good points that I can agree with and still feel good about creating resumes for my clients.

What You Should Know about Recruiters & Your Resume

According to Corcodillos, who is a headhunter (recruiter), there are two things that he cares about when he receives a resume:

  1. Is the sender someone I know? If it isn’t, he deletes it.
  2. Is the information useful? In other words, does it make clear (and quickly) why he should bother to read it?

He amplifies these points with a few telling statements:

  • “Don’t send a resume to someone you don’t know who doesn’t know you.”
  • “We don’t have time to figure out what to do with you.”
  • “In a contest between a trusted referral and your blind resume, you will always lose. I won’t open your resume, and what’s in it doesn’t matter.”
  • “What matters most to an employer or headhunter reading a resume is that it came via a personal introduction from someone we trust. Your competitors will almost always come in second.”

What Does This Mean to Your Job Search?

For starters, it means you can and should be putting some real effort and thought into your job search, That definitely includes making the effort to get personal introductions to key people related to the position you’re pursuing.

If you haven’t been reading Corcodillos’ blog yet, I encourage you to start. While I don’t necessarily endorse all his opinions (which he undoubtedly wouldn’t care about if he knew), I know he’s as savvy as they come in his area of expertise.

Yes, this approach is more work (maybe a lot more) than many of you might be used to putting into your job search. However, when you do it–and do it right–I’ll bet you’ll see some impressive results, not the least of which is getting a leg up on your competition.

So maybe now, with the relative slowness of the holiday season, would be a good time to strategize and plan how you’re going to jump-start your job search by connecting with key people in your target companies. Think about it, but don’t just think: DO!


Career Change: Is Now the Time?

Recently I published a post about midlife (or other) career change. Related to that is the situation that too many people face–being in a lousy (read: toxic) work situation that clearly isn’t going to get substantially better soon, if ever.

During this year-end holiday period, you might benefit from carving out at least some time to consider your current work environment and decide whether it’s great from start to finish, satisfactory in all major aspects, mediocre at best, or dangerously toxic to your well-being. If it’s no more than mediocre, a change could still be worth thinking about. If it’s seriously toxic, I’d suggest that change is highly desirable, if not actually essential.

Warning Signs a Career Change is Needed

I once worked with a woman who was so miserable in her job that she not only came to work with a sick feeling in her stomach but on occasion couldn’t even make it to work, she felt so terrible. She had a seriously male chauvinistic boss who didn’t place a high value on women in the workplace, and she didn’t have the personality to give him as good as she got, so she suffered in silence instead. If there ever was a recipe for disaster, that was it. After I left that place, I heard that she did eventually move on to a new job, but think of what she endured in the meantime!

Recently I read an excellent article on “10 Warning Signs You Need a Career Change” by Linda Hildebrant. The opening statement in the article relates to the worst-case type of scenario I referenced above: “Do you trudge back and forth to your office every day with a dull sense of dread in the pit of your stomach?”

Of the 10 warning signs Hildebrant included in her article, these were my “favorites”–that is, they struck me as particularly important:

  • Sunday night dismay is a regular occurrence: If you lose sleep over the thought of going to work in the morning, it may be time to pack up with the little shred of sanity you have left.
  • Your passion is waning: Do you still believe the work you’re doing serves an important or worthwhile purpose?
  • A monkey could do your job: When your talent isn’t valued by your employer, it can be difficult to keep yourself motivated, and any loyalty gets shoved right down the grinding disposal.
  • You’re trapped in a box: Do you feel as if your professional growth is being stunted? If you’re dissatisfied and unfulfilled with your opportunities for growth, you do yourself a disservice by sticking with your job.
  • You suffer from dragging-clock syndrome. (Probably all of us know how that feels.)

Impulsive vs. Thoughtful Career Change

While it’s possible to let inertia, dread of change, or other negative factors keep you immobilized in a bad work environment, it’s not a great idea to blow off steam at your boss and go charging out the door with no clue where you’re heading next. Somewhere between those two extremes is a thoughtful, well-planned approach to career change (which can include a job change within your current career field).

As with any major life decision–which a job or career change is–you’re better off if you do some careful research and planning before you leap into the unknown. That preparation can also help you determine whether now is the right time for your career change or, if not, what time might be the right one. Life definitely has no guarantees, but you can stack the deck in your favor if you approach the situation thoughtfully.