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Science Careers Blog

December 14, 2009

Job Hunting During the Holidays

With the end of the year coming up, many people are taking time off, school terms are ending, and it may seem like a good time to put the job hunt on hold for a while.

Eve Tahmincioglu, careers columnist at MSNBC,  thinks this is the right time to ramp up some aspects of your job search, or at least to take it in a different direction.

Tahmincioglu gives seven holiday-time hints job hunters, many of which can apply to the rest of the year as well. Here are a few of those tips:

- Party hearty, with networking in mind. "Go to every party you can so you can get out of the house," Tahmincioglu says. She quotes the director of the office of career services at Eastern Connecticut State University who advises accepting as many party invitations as possible to reconnect with people you know and connect with people you don't. It is not a time be picky. In this economy holiday events put on by professional, community, or political groups -- or individuals -- can put you in contact with people you may not otherwise meet. Use the opportunity to let these people know who you are.

- Give and ye shall receive. It's the season of giving, Tahmincioglu says -- a reminder that networking is a two-way street, that helping other job hunters builds reciprocity and develops  trusting relationships with others in your network. Dick van Vlootten spells out in detail how this works in a 2004 article in Science's Next Wave, the predecessor to Science Careers.

- Spruce up the online image. What comes up first or second when you put your name into search engines? If the search returns information that isn't completely flattering, you need to take action -- immediately. On this blog, we've discussed how more companies are using social network sites like LinkedIn or Facebook to identify candidate leads and complement reference checks. Tahmincioglu also recommends putting meaningful and intelligent comments on blogs read widely in your industry, which will improve your online impression when potential employers go searching.

- Spruce up the physical image. Give yourself the gift of looking great in that first interview in 2010. Use the downtime to get more rest, get a haircut, clean the interview suit, and start an exercise routine if you already don't have one (particularly if you take to heart the partying advice given above).

- Mellow out until 1/1/2010. You can use the downtime at the end of the year to chill yourself, as well as the champagne, Tahmincioglu says. She quotes on expert who calls stress "battery acid on the brain". Irene S. Levine has devoted the past few articles in her Mind Matters column on Science Careers to dealing with stress, including her column earlier this month on making good use of downtime, like the kind we find at the end of year.

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