Interviewing 101: Do you really have to answer an employer’s call in Disney World?

Interviewing 101: Do you really have to answer an employer’s call in Disney World?

Recently there has been a lot of press given to unique interview tactics such as Barstool Sports CEO, Erika Nardini, texting candidates outstide of standard business hours to see how fast they respond or Vena Solutions CEO, Don Mal, asking if you’d leave your family at Disneyland to do something that was really important for the company.   These questions have sparked tons of debates and have candidates panicking about the right responses to these tactics.  What do these questions mean? What are the right answers?  Are there right answers?  Well, that depends.

Why are interviewers choosing these sort of tactics?  First, it’s important to remember that these tactics are out of ordinary or they wouldn’t be making the news.  Most employers are not dreaming up tactics to scare you or trick you in to stumbling during the interview so relax.  Yes, now that these tactics are getting attention some employers will start to use them but it won’t be anywhere near the majority of employers.  However, it’s important to be prepared for these and other out of the norm interviews when you experience them.

How you respond depends on a variety of things including the industry you’re in, your chosen profession in that industry, and your personal circumstances.  Industries such as IT, healthcare, government, communications, and public relations often require immediate action from employees as someone’s life or the life of the organization might be in danger without immediate response.  If you’re a heart surgeon and say you won’t leave Disneyland to help save a patient’s life, that’s likely an interview killer.  If you’re a public relations manager who refuses to monitor social media and respond to customer concerns outside of your 8-5 work day, you can likely kiss the offer goodbye.  However if you’re not in an industry that requires immediate action, these tactics could be considered unrealistic and can certainly be a sign of employers who have unrealistic expectations.

Your personal circumstances will also play a large role in how you respond to interview tactics such as these.  Do you have a personal relationship that prioritizes work first?  If so, this type of an employer could be a great fit for you.  If prioritizing the care of an elderly parent or young child comes first in this phase of your life, this type of employer is not going to be a great fit.  Perhaps you’re without any personal attachments and thrive in a high demand work environment.  If so, these employers will be perfect.  The key is to be honest with yourself and with your employer. You can only do that if you’ve had an honest conversation with those important to you and are clear about your own personal boundaries.

Remember that interview tactics such as these not only test the candidates, they test the employers too.  Tactics like these are a great way to help you determine if this employer is someone shares your values and priorities.  There are no right or wrong answers and we should be slow to judge both interviewers and interviewees.  Instead, see this as an exceptional chance to evaluate whether this opportunity is right for you.

Ask Michelle: When to Omit Education from Your Resume

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Dear Michelle,

I’ve been struggling with my job search and am worried that my Ph.D. is scaring off potential employers. Should I omit my education from my resume?

Please help,

Well Educated and Struggling


Dear Well Educated and Struggling,

I’m sorry you’re struggling in your job search. First, take heart that most people struggle at some point during their job search process. You’re not alone so before you start deleting your education from your resume there are a few things to ask yourself.

Is your education really the culprit or is it the easiest thing to blame for not getting the job you wanted? While some people may be intimidated by your Ph.D. there could many reasons why you’re not getting the job you want. Are your interview skills up to par? Were you well prepared for the interview showing examples of your work and taking good notes? Did you follow up on the interview with thank you notes (both written and email)? Were others more qualified for the position? Are your industry connections as strong as the person’s who got the job? Did you have good chemistry with the interviewers? There are hundreds of reasons why an interview doesn’t turn into an offer and most have little to do with your education so do an honest assessment of the entire interview process before removing your education.

If, after an honest assessment of your application and interview process, you still feel like your education is intimidating interviewers it might be worth removing. The only time we would advise removing your education would be if your degree has absolutely nothing to do with the field you’re applying to or your alma mater intimidates people in your industry or community. This should be reserved as a last resort. Before taking this step be sure to ask yourself if you really want to work for an organization that is intimidated by something you’ve worked so hard for. Earning a Ph.D. is something to be very proud of so hold your head up high.





10 Ways to Recession Proof Your Career

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So things seem pretty good right now-the economy is strong, unemployment has been below 5% since January 2016, qualified candidates have their pick of job offers, real estate is a seller’s market, and your investment portfolio is doing pretty well. Why should you think about managing your career during a recession now? Because the smartest of the smart people are all looking at the United States’ current economic status and predicted a drop. This isn’t about politics or fake news, these are respected journalists, financial experts, and publications that are warning us of the next recession.

Olivier Garret shared strong data in a recent Forbes article showcasing how “twin bubbles” including global debt and government overpromises will lead to a recession that will “effect everyone in a big way.” Caroline Mortimer penned an article for the Independent in June explaining that emerging markets such as China are showing the same signs of economic overheating the US and UK did before the ‘07/’08 financial crisis. Joachim Fels stated in a recent Barron’s article that “we believe the probability of a global recession sometime in the next five years is around 70%”. Financial bloggers like Mr. Money Mustache aren’t as generous with their predictions suggesting a recession could occur anywhere from 2 weeks to 2 years from now. Finally, Jared Bernstein, former chief economist to Vice President Biden, warns that we’re not over the last recession and are headed for another one in his latest Washington Post article.

Many of us have become pretty comfortable in our new office chairs with fewer financial worries than we had in 2008. For most of us that comfort has caused our memories to be a little cloudy, allowing us to forget what it was really like. We lived through it too and let us remind you it is bad, really bad to lose everything when you’re not at all prepared. So let’s talk about what you can do to prepare your career for the next national and possibly global recession.

  1. Start preparing for your job search now. Even if Mr. Fels is right and the recession is 5 years out that time will fly by. Make the most of the good economy we have by building your network and leveraging relationships to get as far ahead as you can. Don’t tell yourself you’re too busy working to keep in touch with colleagues who are a wealth of industry information. Those are the people you’ll need when times get tough so put in the work now to keep those relationships strong even in the good times.
  2. Prepare your resume. You already know that you should be updating your resume on the first day of your new job but it’s important to make sure the accomplishments listed on your resume reflect your most recent projects. The time to gather all of the documentation such as reviews, examples of work, data, and metrics is before you’re downsized. This is also the time to invest in a professional resume writer. When the recession hits money is going to feel even scarcer than it does currently, so invest now in a strong resume professional who will help you showcase all of your accomplishments.
  3. Reach out to recruiters. Good recruiters have the inside scoop on what is happening throughout the industry, community, and job market. Get to know a few good recruiters and regularly stay in touch. If they ask for help in networking to fill a position, help them out. Be a wealth of knowledge for them and they’ll be a wealth of knowledge for you. These relationships can be vital when the chips are down.
  4. Begin using and/or cleaning up your social media feeds. If you’re not on a minimum of LinkedIn, now is the time to start a profile. If you’re on LinkedIn but your profile hasn’t been dusted off in a while, it’s time to get it updated. A recession will send everyone to LinkedIn at the same time and your profile is going to get lost in all of the noise so now is the time to take action. This is also the time to begin interacting on LinkedIn. Post interesting articles that are about your industry, company, or professional passion and begin building a name for yourself. Start to “like” and comment on others’ posts too. This will help you build that network we talked about so that when you need someone they don’t find themselves asking “Who is this guy?” Don’t forget to clean up your Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram feeds Remember that dinner table rules apply-nothing you wouldn’t want shown on the nightly news and stay away from politics and religion.
  5. Education, certifications, and training. Take advantage of the training and educational opportunities currently provided by your employer. It’s easy to be too busy to take that course, go to that seminar, or go back to college even when your employer is footing the bill. Life gets in the way but this is the time to take advantage of your employers’ generosity. Your training, certifications, and education will follow you wherever you go and will set you apart from candidates with similar backgrounds.
  6. Recession proof jobs and businesses. No matter how bad things may get, there are certain positions that have to be filled. In 2016 CNBC created a list of recession proof jobs that included medical professionals, teachers, accountants, and even funeral directors.   Industries that thrive during the economy include bankruptcy law, government, education, cosmetic manufacturing, and discount retailers. Ask yourself if your industry is recession proof. If not, considering targeting your next search to industries that have a stronger chance of surviving the next recession.
  7. Start a side hustle. What’s a side hustle? It’s the modern way of saying, “something that makes you money on the side” or what some would call a second part time job. Side hustles can take a variety of forms online or offline. Maybe it’s time to start bottling and selling that hot sauce everyone begs you to make at Christmas, maybe it’s teaching online courses on sites like com or at a local university, maybe it’s even gardening or mowing lawns. Ask yourself what your good at and start doing it. Multiple streams of income might be your savior during a recession. The extra cash can go along way and you never know when you’re going to need your side hustle to fall back on.
  8. Pay down your debt. Everyone has a different tolerance for debt but when the recession hits and your job is at risk every penny of debt is going to feel like thousands of dollars so get rid of it while you can. It’s easy to think you need that expensive watch because you’ve earned it and you probably have but if you’ll be faced with paying it off when your job is at risk reconsider.
  9. Have a talk with your financial advisor. Remember those recession proof industries we were talking about? They might be a safer bet for your investments if you don’t have the tolerance you did before the last crisis. Investopedia has some good tips on what to look for too. Consulting a reputable financial consultant will make all the difference when the time comes.
  10. Don’t panic. This all sounds like doom and gloom and it can be really scary. This is why it’s so important to start preparing now for what’s to come. If those really smart people turn out to be wrong you’ve still set yourself up for success and that’s never a bad plan.

What to do When Company Culture Leaves You Behind

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Your organization is changing and not just standard every day changes but big changes from the top down that impact every department and individual in the organization. Everyone’s scrambling and wondering what they should do. It’s just not the same as it used to be and while you’ve been positive about the changes in front of your boss, direct reports, and peers, you’re just not sure if there’s a place for you in this new culture. Here are a few signs that it’s time to get serious about a change.

The Passion is Gone. If you work used to be something that excited you and made you want to go to work even on your day off but now you find yourself dreading anything that has to do with your industry than you might have lost passion.   Ask yourself what caused the change and if the change is beyond your control. You might be able to get passion back by focusing on the parts of your job you love the most or learning a new skill that will ignite the fire again. Perhaps it’s not the work but a problem with a coworker that’s draining the passion from what you do. Look for ways to limit exposure to the individual. This might even mean transferring to a different location or department to gain that fresh perspective. Often when our passion for our careers is faltering there are small changes we can make to shine new light on what we love. If making changes within your current job doesn’t help, it might be time to consider a move outside the organization.

The culture has done a 180.  When organizations go through large restructurings the culture of the organization changes overnight. New people bring new ideas and new work styles while existing staff are trying to hold on to what is familiar and safe. This can cause tension and stress for all involved. Those who are able to align with the new culture are those who remain open to change and are willing to leave the past behind them. They limit exposure to negative colleagues who consistently complain about the changes while working to befriend new employees. They find out what their new boss wants and work to find a way to deliver. If you’ve sincerely worked to fit in to the new culture and it’s just not working, it might be time to consider a move to another division or even outside of the company.

You’re bored and underutilized. It’s easy to think you should be willing to take it easy at work and collect a paycheck for doing a little bit of nothing each day but most people can’t make that a reality. We want to contribute and we want to use our skills to the best of our abilities. Ask yourself if the skills you offer are still necessary in the organization. If not do you have the ability or the desire to learn the new skills that will be desired. If so, let your supervisor know you’re open to training and begin seeking out opportunities to develop your skills on your own. If there’s no way for you to gain the knowledge you’ll need or you simply don’t want to, it is definitely time for a change.

Once you’ve accepted that it’s time for a change remember that change starts with you. Consider updating your resume, contacting trusted colleagues in your network and take stock of what you’re great at. The process can take time but being prepared is the key to reducing the stress of change.



Counter Offers. When to Say Yes. When to Say No.

With national unemployment rates hovering below 5% for the last 12 months, employers are struggling to find good people.  This can be great news for candidates and may bring opportunities to negotiate for higher salaries, better benefits, and other perks that employers weren’t offering just a few years ago.  It also means that counter offers are on the rise.  You can find yourself in a bidding war between your current and possible future employer.  Sounds like a good problem to have right?  Only if you know how to negotiate, when to say yes and when to say no.

You’ve negotiated a good offer from a potential future employer and they’ve agreed to give you a few days to consider it.  Your boss is devastated when you turn in your notice because he didn’t see this coming and immediately asks what it will take to make you stay.  You throw out a pie in the sky number and add an extra week of vacation and he immediately agrees.  What do you say, yes or no? You’re not miserable at your job so staying would be nice but the grass is looking pretty green on the other side of the fence.  These are the decisions that impact the rest of your life.

First, take a deep breath.  It’s important to remember that you don’t have to make a decision immediately.  Ask for the offer in writing and for a few days to consider it.  This will give you an opportunity to take inventory of the reasons you’re making a change in the first place.  Ask yourself why you said yes to the interview.  Do you dread going to work every day?  Are you bored out of your mind with zero advancement opportunities?  Were you perfectly happy but the recruiter who called made the position sound to good to pass up?  Do you need more money and/or better benefits?

If you dread going to work every day and your coworkers make you crazy, money will only make that situation more tolerable for a short period of time.  Sooner or later the old problems will pop up again and you’ll be miserable.  This is likely a good reason to say no to the counter offer.

If the lack of advancement opportunities caused you to seek greener pastures, take a hard look at the opportunity with the new employer to make sure the advancement they’re promising is real.  Do they currently promote from within?  Do their employees have a long tenure with the organization?  Do they have a plan for your first year that demonstrates more opportunity?  If after a closer look the new employer’s offer looks like empty promises, consider excepting the counter offer.  While the counter offer may not promise more advancement it may buy you time to find a new position that really does offer a great opportunity.

If you were searching for a new job based on salary alone (rarely is that the case), a counter offer is worth considering.  Keep in mind that you’ve outed yourself by sharing that you’re looking for a new job and the counter offer may only be to give the employer time to look for your replacement.  Many recruiters we work with believe candidates who accept a counter offer will only be with the company 6 months or less after they accept.

Counter offers are risky but can work in a few select cases.  What’s most important is that you do you research ahead of time and you understand your reasons for making a change.


Your Resume: Is It Relevant? Readable? Remarkable?

Photo by Mari Helin-Tuominen on Unsplash

Like most of us, your resume is probably something you’ve gone over more times than you can count. Do you wonder if you really even see it anymore?

Having a professional look over your resume with fresh eyes can be a game-changer. And who better than Michelle Merritt, CEO of Merrfeld Resumes and Coaching? Her previous roles as a Fortune 500 Recruiter, Corporate Culture Executive, and Chamber of Commerce Vice President have given her invaluable experience in knowing what makes a resume really stand out (and be remembered!). Right now Merrfeld Resumes and Coaching is offering a Professional Resume Critique for only $99! We’ll even throw in an assessment of your LinkedIn profile!

Of course you know how to write; and who knows your own experience better than you? But a professional assessment — with the focus on getting YOU noticed — can make your resume stand out from the crowd. After discussing your career goals, we carefully review your resume and provide suggestions for how we would revise it were we writing it ourselves. We’ll suggest improvements in style and formatting, and highlight areas that need more information or explanation.

We’ll review your LinkedIn profile as well — identifying changes and updates that will get you noticed by peers and potential employers. LinkedIn is a powerful networking tool. As with your resume, it’s important to set yourself above the crowd.

If you review our suggestions and decide within 30 days that you prefer to  have Merrfeld do the updates for you, we deduct the $99 from our standard resume-writing fee. So there’s no risk if you think you want to give it a go yourself first.

We are constantly monitoring the trends in resumes, networking and hiring practices. Technology, styles, and methods are ever-evolving — but succinct, expressive, high-quality writing will get you noticed every time. Let Merrfeld help you put your best foot forward with a standout resume and LinkedIn profile!

Ask Michelle: Interviewing and Pregnancy

Dear Michelle,

I need your advice. I’m interviewing for a new job. I’m very excited about the position and very happy with how well the process is going so far. I wouldn’t be surprised to be getting an offer soon. The issue? I’m pregnant. And very excited and happy about that, too! But I am worrying if I’m being deceitful, or putting my potential future employer in an awkward position by not telling them at this point. I’m not so far along that it’s obvious, but far enough along that I’m starting to tell people. I am taking this career decision very seriously and, of course, will be fully committed to my professional responsibilities. Should I say something now? If not now, when?


Dear Excited and Happy,

As you likely already know, it is illegal to treat pregnant women differently than any other candidates (this was established by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978). While I appreciate your desire to be honest and up front with your potential future colleagues, remember that this is not really that different from someone who is considering a new job but has pre-planned surgery or an extended vacation already booked.

I would suggest you don’t “muddy the process” at this point. Hold off until an offer has been extended and you have accepted it and are negotiating your start date, time off, etc. I would urge you to keep in mind that unexpected things can happen between now and the offer actually coming in, for example:

  • you could learn something about the job or the company that makes you no longer interested in the position
  • you could learn of another position that is more appealing
  • you could decide that your current job is a better fit
  • they could extend an offer that is unacceptable to you
  • and, the sad, but very real, fact that 10-25% of pregnancies end in miscarriage, especially during the first trimester — maintaining your privacy on this topic for as long as possible is more than understandable

When you are ready to have the conversation with your new employer, do address their likely concerns from the get-go. Remind them of your commitment to the company — your goals for your work there and how they align with your own career goals. Talk about your expected due date and your plans for leave and returning to work. Emphasize your intent to use your time before the baby arrives to develop and implement a plan so your leave time will have as little impact as possible.

As you evaluate their offer, be honest with yourself about what you are looking for — especially after the baby arrives. Are things like being able to work from home, a flexible schedule, or a short commute going to be more important to you than in the past? Consider these and discuss them with your potential employer.

Remember that almost all employees have reasons (often completely unexpected) to be on leave for extended periods of time: injuries, serious illness, caring for sick family member, or a death in the family. Employers don’t refuse to hire people because these circumstances may arise. Pregnancy should not be considered differently — except for the beneficial fact the you, your team, and your bosses can be better prepared because it’s known about far in advance.

I hope this helps, and wish you all the best in BOTH of your exciting new endeavors!

– Michelle

Goal Setting: The Art of Dreaming Big, But Starting Small

The hectic holidays are behind us and, like many of you, I turn my thoughts to my goals and aspirations for the new year.

I admit it. I love to set goals, strategize, and organize. (That’s why I’m so good at my job!) But I know not everyone loves this process as much as I do. It can easily turn into negative self-talk time —  feelings of being overwhelmed  (“C’mon, I’ll never really find the time to get that done”) or self-doubt (“Yeah, that’s been on my goals list for three years, why do I think I can do it this year?).

Don’t let goal setting make you feel that way! I have some suggestions for how to make the time well spent AND exciting, empowering, and rejuvenating!

The key for me has been to learn not to set too many goals, or ones that aren’t really attainable. Goals should make you stretch yourself personally, professionally, and spiritually but not be so pie-in-the-sky that you can’t attain them.

Here’s how I go about setting goals and applying them to my real life. I’ve used these basic steps for over a decade and know that they work for me. Give these suggestions a try, but don’t be afraid to modify them to meet your own personality.

I used to do this on a pink legal pad, but these days I do it online. Though I must admit, sometimes the physical act of writing and just seeing the words on paper in your own handwriting provide inspiration of their own. Do whichever feels more comfortable for you.

  1. Be quiet.  Find time to pray, meditate, or simply breathe deeply and consciously as you begin this project. Go someplace where you won’t be interrupted and set a timer — even 5 minutes can be enough! Ask yourself “what are my intentions for this year?” Then be quiet and …. listen. Your brain (and heart) will fill the space with what is important. When the time is up, jot down in any order the words or images that kept bubbling up.
  2. Segment. Write headings titled with the various areas of focus in your life. Keep them fairly broad — something like: “professional”, “personal”, “spiritual”, “parenting”, “health”, etc.
  3. Write your goals.  Categorize the notes from your quiet time, and anything else that comes to mind, under these headings. Don’t limit yourself at this point. I always ask myself what my goals would be if money, time, and circumstances were perfectly aligned. Write it all down.
  4. Visualize.  After you’ve done this for each section, reread what you’ve written. Visualize yourself reaching all of these goals.  Don’t let yourself feel overwhelmed — just go to your happy place and imagine life a year from now with these goals complete.
  5. Create a plan. Now you need to apply some brain power. I suggest beginning with the end in mind. What does that mean? Start with the vision you have of your goal completed. Then ask yourself what you did to reach that goal by working backwards from the point in your story where the goal is complete. For example, you want to be working for yourself? The step immediately before being your own boss is probably not, “quit current job”. It may be something like “have sufficient client base to support me on my own” or “get certified in this field so I can promote my services”. Prior to THAT, it may be “talk to other people in this profession about how they went out on their own” or “research the legal process of setting up my own business.” Etc, etc.
  6. Evaluate the plan. Now that you’ve created a plan, evaluate it and ask yourself if it can realistically be done. If the plan requires hard work and effort on your part, GREAT!  If it requires others to move mountains for you —  and you don’t think they are as committed to the idea as you are — you may need to reconsider that goal. For example, you striking out on your own may impact your family’s financial situation. Perhaps the first step it to speak to your partner about your desire to do this and brainstorm way to explore it before taking unnecessary financial risks.
  7. Push yourself. That said, there’s a big difference between being realistic with your goals and letting yourself off easy. If the goal is really important to you, don’t just say “we can’t afford to do this”. Take a look at why not. Are there sacrifices you are willing to make? Are there things you can learn that may make the process more appealing or financially viable.
  8. Share your goals. It can be scary to share your dreams. But it’s important to find a cheerleader — and someone who will hold you accountable. It’s easy to get distracted from your plans by the hectic realities of daily life. Share your goals with someone who will help you remember the commitments you made to yourself.
  9. Keep your goals where you can see them. If you didn’t write them out, print them now. They are easy to forget if hidden away. Some people keep theirs on the bathroom mirror or the refrigerator door. I like to put mine in a frame and keep them on my desk. Seeing them every day is a gentle prod to “keep your eye on the prize”.
  10. Revisit your goals. The plan you devised early on in the process, is a set of mini-goals to help you stay on track. Revisit your progress frequently and tweak your plan if necessary. The more you revisit your goals the more likely you’ll achieve them.
  11. Get out the red sharpie. OK, maybe this is just me, but there’s something so satisfying about drawing that thick red line through a completed task! Of course, you can use whatever type and color of writing utensil you like! Just know that the more tasks you complete the better you’ll feel. All those crossed off items are a great way to share your success with those holding you accountable, too.
  12. Reward yourself. It doesn’t have to be anything extravagant. But all too often we forget to pat ourselves on the back. Treat yourself as you cross items off your plan. Even if it’s just little rewards like a hot bath, an afternoon off to see a movie, or drinks out with friends. You deserve it!

Dream big! I wish you the best and brightest year yet!


5 Great Reads from 2016: To Inspire, Recharge, and Motivate

Looking for last minute holiday gifts? Or, finally making some time for yourself to read over the holiday break? These are some of the best-reviewed career-related books of the past year. Each is especially relevant for anyone considering a career change — or just looking to get more out of his or her work-life. Merrfeld Resumes and Coaching wishes you happy holidays, happy reading … and a very happy career!

Designing Your Life: How to Build a Well-Lived Joyful Life by Bill Burnett & Dave Evans

Amazon: “In this book, Bill Burnett and Dave Evans show us how design thinking can help us create a life that is both meaningful and fulfilling, regardless of who or where we are, what we do or have done for a living, or how young or old we are. The same design thinking responsible for amazing technology, products, and spaces can be used to design and build your career and your life, a life of fulfillment and joy, constantly creative and productive, one that always holds the possibility of surprise.”

Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Lee Duckworth

Chris Fralic on LinkedIn called it: “an extremely insightful and well written treatise on how and why certain people excel”

Amazon: “pioneering psychologist Angela Duckworth shows anyone striving to succeed—be it parents, students, educators, athletes, or business people—that the secret to outstanding achievement is not talent but a special blend of passion and persistence she calls ‘grit’.”

Emotional Agility: Get Unstuck, Embrace Change and Thrive in Work and Life by Susan David

Amazon: “The path to personal and professional fulfillment is rarely straight. The counterintuitive approach to achieving your true potential, heralded by the Harvard Business Review as a groundbreaking idea of the year.

Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World by Adam Grant

The Washington Post: “[Grant] examines what successful non-conformists . . . have in common, all in an effort to help the rest of us learn how to do things like bust myths, speak truth to power, and avoid groupthink without getting sidelined.”

Messy: The Power of Disorder to Transform Our Lives by Tim Harford

Amazon: “you’ll learn about the unexpected connections between creativity and mess; understand why unexpected changes of plans, unfamiliar people, and unforeseen events can help generate new ideas and opportunities as they make you anxious and angry; and come to appreciate that the human inclination for tidiness – in our personal and professional lives, online, even in children’s play – can mask deep and debilitating fragility that keep us from innovation.”

Holiday Socializing and Networking: Tips for Effectiveness AND Fun

The holidays bring myriad opportunities for connecting with others: from casual encounters to formal events. Enjoying the season and connecting with one another should be foremost on everyone’s mind; but — especially if you are job-hunting or thinking about a career or job change — the holidays can be a great time for networking opportunities, too.

Here are our suggestions on how to get the most out of holiday-time socializing (while still having a good time and not annoying your family and friends!):

Before the party, especially if you know who may be in attendance, think about who there would be a good contact to make — and which mutual friend could introduce you. Also:

  • be ready with your elevator pitch — clearly and concisely describe what you do and why you are passionate about it
  • have business cards handy, for when you are asked for one; but don’t hand them out like Santa passing out candy canes
  • dress appropriately for the event, but keep a professional look top priority
  • have some questions in mind to get a conversation with a new person going (tongue-tied when it comes to small talk? read out socializing tips for introverts article here)

At the party, don’t make it all business. Add something to the event so you will be invited back again next year! Plus, you never know when a non-work-related conversation can take a turn and create an important work connection. Remember to:

  • show up with a positive attitude — if you are feeling forced to be there or uninterested in who else is there, others will quickly pick up on that
  • be selective about when and to whom you give your business card
  • talk about something besides business; relax and focus on getting to know new people
  • listen as much, or more, than you talk
  • don’t just hang out with the people you know — mingle!
  • have fun, but know your alcohol limit — you don’t want to be remembered as “that guy” at the party

After the party, say thank you to the host or hostess before you walk out the door. Follow up with a “thanks again” email or handwritten note the next day. Hosting an event is no small feat — show your appreciation for their work and for including you.

The holidays can be a fantastic time of year to continue building your relationships, professional and other. Remember the main point of the events — to have fun and socialize — but don’t hesitate to work in a little appropriate networking, as well. Happy Holidays!