In a poll Nexxt conducted last week, 49% of job seekers said they would be willing to work on Thanksgiving. Another 13% were already doing so. A sad sign of the times that, despite being several years into the recovery, a large number of people — and perhaps you are one of them — would forego a day spent with family and friends for an additional paycheck.
It’s hard to give thanks when every day brings a reminder that you need to find a job, either because you don’t have one or because the one you are in is unrewarding. Most of us have been there at one time or another. You walk into a room of smiling people who ask you how things are going, and you try to put on a happy face and say, “I’m fine!” — even though that is the last thing you are feeling.
If you are in need of a job, don’t let depression cloud your holiday. This is the time to be confident, and to demonstrate why you will be a great asset to the company that hires you. In Harvard Business Review’s recently published study, “Be Seen as a Leader,” participants were asked to write a few paragraphs about an ambition they wanted to achieve in life, a time they were excited and joyful, or a time when they had power over another person. The result? Those who wrote on those topics (rather than more neutral ones) were more likely to then actively demonstrate leadership to the entire group, and be perceived as leaders.
What does this have to do with Thanksgiving? Well, in the circle of people you will be joining, is there anyone who might be able to help you find a job? Perhaps someone who works somewhere you might want to work, or who knows people at places you might want to work?
People — even family and friends — are more likely to try hard to help you if they believe it will reflect well on them. You don’t want them thinking, “Poor Joe, he really needs a better job…” You want them thinking, “Damn — Joe is amazing. I bet he’d do a great job if I recommended him.”
How do you convince people you’re amazing when you’re down? First, do some research. Do you know where your family and friends work and what they do? Visit the company websites, including the Careers section, and see if there are any jobs you might be interested in. Then follow the advice from Harvard. When you get up in the morning, take a sheet of paper, and write down your best characteristics — a list of reasons why someone should hire you. Then, write a paragraph about a time when you felt great at work because you contributed and made a difference. Then walk into the room confident in you at your best. If someone asks how things are going, tell them you are weighing options. If there is a position at a company at which they work, then say, “I have been looking into a job doing X at company Y. You work there, don’t you? What do you think about the company?”
You’ll have to match the wording to your situation and family and friends. But most importantly, start a positive conversation. Don’t start by asking for help. Get them talking first, and then you could ask whether they know the hiring manager, or whether they would mind referring you.
Finally, a note to those who aren’t looking for work. Be thankful. And, if you have a family member or friend who is looking, find some time to help them out.