November 24, 2014

Turkey Gravy for Job Seekers

Thanksgiving is by far my favorite holiday - family, friends, and food. Since it falls on or near my birthday, my husband does the grocery shopping and cooking. I make the menu and the list of ingredients. Then I stay out of the way as he turns the kitchen into a disaster area.

This is, by far, the best American Holiday! The entertainment value of it alone is worth the effort. How often do you get to see the whole bird parked on the table? You can debate a lot about what tastes best - the white meat, the dark meat or the drumstick. And snicker as your prim cousin drips cranberry sauce down her chin.

There is also a hidden job market right there under the turkey wing.

Thanksgiving is your opportunity to start telling your family what you will be doing after graduation or what kind of work you are exploring if you are unemployed or underemployed. Thanksgiving is an opportunity to talk about what you are interested in doing with the people who care most that you get a job. They may have to support you if you don't... and they know it. These are the people who really want to be helpful.

Eating alone in front of the TV is not going to yield any jobs. Why, you ask? For two reasons… The biggest mistake that unemployed people make is that they hang around with other unemployed people. The second biggest mistake that unemployed people make is being embarrassed about it - so they keep it a secret.

Looking for work is not shameful! It is an adventure! Embrace it!
So when your Auntie Silen asks you how your job search is going or what you are going to do after graduation - right there in front of everyone – don't crawl under the table and scream, “I don’t know, leave me alone!” Instead describe the job you are seeking in terms that she can understand.

Don’t be embarrassed that you are unemployed. Everyone has been there at one time or another. Auntie Silen is asking because she cares - she wants to help you.

The reality is that most jobs are not posted. Most individuals get their jobs through a friend or a connection. So when your cousin, auntie, uncle, brother, sister or mother or your neighbor asks what you are going to do next - tell them about your career plans and interests in the simplest terms possible. Make sure that they understand exactly what it is that you are looking for. (If you don’t know what you are interested in doing with your life, figure it out! Read The Serious Job Seeker).

What you will get in return will be priceless. Sitting at the dinner table is a whole team of people who will be talking to their people about your career plans. They will email you job links and articles about interesting companies that have just gotten big contracts. They will share your information with all of their contacts.

Social situations are the best place to find out about jobs and make career connections! Your job will most likely come when you least expect it, from the most unexpected source.

One mechanical engineer got his job from chatter around the Thanksgiving dinner table. He was prepped. He had heard my lecture on “working the holidays.” When the inevitable question was asked – “What are you going to do when you graduate?” – he gave a little speech about wanting to work in aircraft maintenance or manufacturing. Then he named the major aircraft companies…

His sister, a cardiac care nurse, just listened and remembered the conversation. Some months later, a top Boeing executive was rushed to her Seattle hospital. A week later, when he was well into recovery, she mentioned to him her brother’s interest in working for Boeing. He gave her his card and said that she should have her brother send his resume to him. The student sent a resume and was hired without so much as an interview.

If you are looking for a job, embrace Thanksgiving and every social gathering! If you are standing in line at Starbucks, the movies, or playing soccer, and someone asks, don’t be embarrassed! Don’t be shy! Tell the people around you about who you are and what you are interested in doing with your life. Give them your business card.

If you are a serious job seeker create a job seeking business card (a mini resume) with your name, expertise, email, cell number, your LinkedIn link and any details that might aid the people you are sharing your search with so they can get back to you with leads.
Who knows, you could have a job offer before New Years!