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7 tips on how to use the year-end Christmas holiday season to strategize, plan & advance your career

Hi Mandar

I am a regular reader of your blogs and liked the last one about job searching during the year end Christmas holiday period. I want to ask you that if I know the job market or in general business is going to be slow, is there a way I can use this time productively to advance my career prospects?

Hi

You are absolutely on the money in terms of using the year-end Christmas holiday period productively for advancement of your career and job search as well. Here are some of the things I would suggest:
  • Firstly, the holiday season sometimes is the best time to do some more networking and increasing your key contacts at C level. Not everybody is on holiday or overseas. Now maybe is a good time to reach out to the Managers in another area in which you feel your future career growth would be. By doing this you gain first-hand exposure what is the pulse in that department.
  • Secondly, it’s a good time to complete any small courses that you have thinking about but not getting time to complete. It’s the best time to gain the latest skills or certifications.  If you were planning to study and give an exam to become a ‘scrum master’. This is the best time to do it. You also study at home and learn automation testing tools or polish off your Revit or Inventor skills.
  • Thirdly, you can help and work in charitable organisation or an event or cause that is close to heart, maybe during a weekend or so. You will come to know if it’s your thing to go on that Africa visit and pursue it full time as a Career. This a time when such charities need volunteers more than ever.
  • Fourth, it’s also a good time to have a face to face chat with your bosses or other managers and find out what is happening within the company. While nowadays bosses tend to be proactive in communicating all the time, this is mostly ‘one way’ communication, made to sound two way. Sometimes Xmas parties are good to get a real idea of things.
  • Fifth and most important tip is maybe your boss or team leader is going away for holidays overseas. This in turn is a golden opportunity for you to step into this role temporarily (I know I did) and find out a little more about the role and responsibilities and groom yourself to sort of, be the next in line at other times. Help him out in making that presentation and chasing those bad debtors who have been bothering him.
  • Sixth tip is related to improving your work and business. Xmas drinks and dinner parties are normally full of excellent business development and client business intelligence gathering moments. Some of them let their guard down and sometimes give good feedback or latest information of a project that they have won for which they would need new staff! Or even share a negative feedback of repeated issue of timesheets getting stuck in the system. You can use this information to your advantage. (Again I did)
  • Seventh is a tough one but I used to attend whenever possible common industry or client Christmas events to access and meet up with my competitors. Extend your hand and you will realise they may be in the same boat as you. I did this whenever all suppliers were invited for common parties at client venues. You can also try to find out about any managerial job opportunities coming up with your competitors!

For Career Coaches like myself, the year-end time frame is when I get busier by the day, as job seekers and smart professionals have more spare time, they call on professionals to book those review sessions. Now is the time to plan and strategize for the future. People who have secured their first and second roles can use it to plan their next move and so on. Your career is way too important to leave it to chance and go with the flow.

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