Career Opportunities

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Holiday Recharge (Parts 1-3)

© Douglas E. Welch 1998

December 1998

As I am sure many of you have found, the holidays are not a good time to be looking for a job. Many companies go into a slow down and the press for filling positions is at a low ebb. If the holiday season coincides with the end of the fiscal year the condition gets even worse. Budgets are spent and many departments are still waiting to see what their budget will be for the next year. Most companies aren?t looking any further than the next holiday party. This condition won?t right itself fully until after New Year?s Day.

While the holidays can make it harder to find a job they become a perfect time to concentrate on yourself. It is time to take stock in your present situation, recharge your batteries, catch up on your reading and other preparations for the job-hunting blitz you will launch in the New Year.

Recharge, relax and rest

Many of you have worn yourself out searching for your first or next great job. You have cranked out the resumes, gone on countless interviews and made hundreds of phone calls. Everyone needs a little time to recharge their batteries and the holiday season is one of the best.

First, pick one activity that you have wanted to do all year, then, go out and do it! Put it on the calendar, plan for it and don?t let anything get in your way. Perhaps you have wanted to go hiking. Put your hiking shoes by the door, get up early the next day and go. You will find that time away from your job search and other pressures can really help clear your mind and might even give you further direction. Sometimes we are so caught up in our current state of affairs that we lose sight of what we are truly trying to achieve.

Next, relax. Take one day to do nothing. Don?t answer your email, your phone, your fax or even your door. Get away from your normal, everyday life, even if it is just for an hour. Too often you spin in circles trying to accomplish everything at once and fail to take the time your mind and your body need to recover from all that effort.

Finally, rest. Your effectiveness is reduced dramatically when you are tired. Trying to accomplish something when you are worn out almost guarantees that you will have to do it again. Don?t cause yourself double work. Take some time to rest, then attack the project when you are fresh.

Resting involves getting enough sleep each night. Driving yourself with "all-nighters" is a sure prescription for a crash. Once you feel your concentration begin to falter, go to bed.

Watch what you eat during the holiday season. All the sweets and heavy food associated with the holidays can slow you down and make you even more tired. It is OK to indulge a little but always remember that too much of a good thing becomes a bad thing.

Last week I talked about what you can do to help recharge your physical side. This week I will concentrate on the mental side. The slow holiday period can be an excellent opportunity to add to your skills so that you are even more marketable when you renew your job search int he New Year.


How many magazines and books have piled up on your desk in the last few months? If you are following some prescriptions I made in earlier columns about keeping current through reading, you should have quite a few items waiting to be read. If employers are slow in returning your phone calls or the open positions are currently lacking, invest some time in yourself. Catch up on all the reading you can.

While reading to increase your high-tech skills is beneficial, throw a few new items into the mix. Read that novel you have always wanted to read. Read magazines from other industries. Read the newspaper. Mix it up and you will find that your mental state will be recharged without being overloaded. You call on your mind for the creative ideas that help you succeed. If you have starved your mind by not reading, or glutted it on one topic, it reduces your ability to create and succeed. A variety of material refills the well of your creativity and gives you resources to call upon when you need them most.


If you are like me you are probably inundated with mail offering this or that computer class. Perhaps you are working towards an MSCE or CNE certification. Why not take the slow holiday period to concentrate on these studies. While your social calendar may be more full, your work life usually slows down during the holidays (unless you are in retail, of course). Instead of anxiously awaiting that next phone call or interview why not sign up for a few classes.

Better yet, why not start a self-study program in an area that interests you. You can do this by buying a book on the topic or merely searching your local library and the Internet for information on the topic. Pick something that has interested you for a long time and immerse yourself in it. Perhaps you want to learn a second language, a new programming tool or the latest, greatest database product. Now is the time to jump in and swim around.

Stop worrying

Your most difficult task for the holiday season has nothing to do with the proactive methods used in gaining a new job. In fact, the most difficult task of all is to stop worrying about your job search entirely.

In the past, I would often find myself wondering why my resumes weren?t garnering attention, why no one was calling me back for an interview, why the job listings in the newspapers had become so sparse. The truth is, and I still have to remind myself of this fact today, nearly all business slows down during the holidays. There is nothing you can do about it. Don?t let yourself become anxious or worried.

The best thing you can do is work on yourself, prepare your attack plan for the New Year and enjoy yourself!

Next Week: An Attack Plan for your 1999 Job Search

Over the last few weeks I have described ways of making it through the holidays without your career worries clouding this happy time of year. I fully believe that one of the best cures for worry or depression is to throw yourself into your work. Somehow, even the smallest accomplishments can help you feel better about yourself and your life.

Winter Quarters

Most of us have heard the story about the terrible Winter that Washington and his troops spent in Valley Forge during the Revolutionary War. I can almost guarantee you that one of the factors that sustained these men through that winter was their mental planning for their campaign once spring arrived. The same approach can help you get through the holiday season and prepare yourself for your newly energized attack on your career.


One of the first preparations you can do is update your resume, reference letters and other job search information. Since business is slow people might even have more time to write those letters. Have you had any new successes since you last updated your resume? Did you get any new reference letters? Do you need to update or improve your cover letter? Take this time to hone these items into the sharpest point possible.


You can also take this time to research opportunities you may have missed in the past. Are their internships you haven?t heard of before? Are companies expanding their workforce? Are they reducing it? Do they have a new product coming to market? As you are reading your trade magazines, newspapers and books, make notes to yourself about items you should research more deeply. Take the time to make opportunities for yourself. Don?t wait for them to come knocking on your door.


No matter where you spend your holidays always be on the lookout for people who can help you achieve you career goals. We probably meet more new people during the holiday party period than anytime else during the year. Listen to the conversations going on around you. Are there people who work in the industry you want to work in? Do they work at a company you are trying to interview with? Would they be willing to be a mentor for you?

That said, this is not the time to push yourself on some unsuspecting person. Your only goal at this stage of the game is to get to know them as a person. Establish a relationship first, then you will have the ability to contact these people when you are in need of assistance. Our friends are always a good source of career information and opportunities. Take the time to develop some new friendships.

Taking stock of our past year and our life is a common year-end pastime. Instead of becoming bogged down in what you haven?t accomplished, look to what you want to accomplish in the coming year. Develop a game plan. Develop a play book. Develop yourself and you are destined to find success in 1999.

Douglas E. Welch is a freelance writer and computer consultant in Van Nuys, California. Readers can discuss career issues with other readers by joining the Career Opportunities Discussion on Douglas' web page at:

He can reached via email at

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