Make the Most of Holiday Parties

(This post originally appeared in 2011; I hope you agree that it’s aged well. )

December, right around the corner, is one of the busiest social seasons of the year. We probably attend more parties this month than any other. That can be a blessing and a curse if you’re in a job hunt or thinking about changing jobs next year. Here are some tips to help you survive – and maybe thrive.

First, put in extra effort to look and feel your best. A prolonged job search takes a physical and mental toll on you, and your energy level may look very low when you mingle with upbeat partygoers. Get some extra sleep, put on a new shade of lipstick or a sweater in a flattering color and smile. Let people know that you’re optimistic about what the new year will bring, even if you’re not quite sure you are. People will be attracted to your energy and spend more time with you. And that could yield more and better advice and support.

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Next, make sure that your elevator speech is current and memorable. You’ll be meeting new people and may be reconnecting with former colleagues, so it’s a good time to revamp what you usually say. If you’ve been looking for more than a year, you don’t want people to hear that you’re still in the same place you were last year. Bring a fresh perspective; talk about what you’ve done or learned over the past twelve months. “I’ve spent some time volunteering at the Humane Society, and helped organize their annual fundraising campaign.” “I received my PHR certification, and I’m exploring options in corporate recruiting.” “I’ve changed my course slightly, and I’m looking into consulting.”

Third, do no harm. Don’t overindulge. Eating the wrong foods and gaining pounds will not help your self-image when you get back into the search in earnest in a few weeks. Alcohol may not be your best friend when you’re trying to impress new contacts. Enjoy with moderation.

Remember that people are feeling generous during this time of year. We take time to reflect on our blessings and we feel inclined to help others in need. Don’t be afraid to ask someone for advice or assistance with your search. As you connect with someone at a social event (and it feels like they are open to you) ask if you can connect again in the new year. “I’ve enjoyed talking with you tonight; may I call you in January to follow up?” Chances are, most people will say yes. They may even suggest that you call during the last weeks of December, when most businesses slow down and people have more time to catch up.

I hope that you’ll take time to remember your blessings during the holiday season. Don’t let your income status limit your celebration of the holidays. Joy, after all, is free.

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