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Make Your Work Life Merry During the Holidays

Make Your Work Life Merry During the Holidays

It's tempting to rationalize that no one's hiring until the new year, so you might as well dump your job search down the chimney and focus on the holidays at hand. Alas, my frosty snowman, you're wrong.

The holidays are among the best times to look for a job. Business slows down now, so when you call to try to get Scrooge to create a job for you, he might actually have time to talk turkey. Some companies have just firmed up their budgets and are finally in a position to deck their halls with new employees. And many job seekers hear the sound, not of silver bells, but of silver coins when it comes time for salary negotiation. After all, aren't employers more likely to feel the season's spirit?

The Holidays Bring Job Opportunities

Looking for an interim holiday job? Many retailers hire customer service reps. That could be the right job for you if you can maintain holiday cheer in the face of bah-humbugging customers.

Don't relish the idea of hamming it up with customers at your local department store? Maybe you'd like to deliver holiday packages for a delivery service. Who knows? If you create some joy in your employer's world, she might hire you through and beyond January.

Already Have a Job?

Do you hear what I hear? Your biggest opportunity may be the office Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa party. It can be a chance to exchange a few ho-ho-hos with one of your organization's big Santas, but you'd better strike the balance between talking enough shop to get what you want without seeming like the Grinch.

Of course, the office holiday party is a litigator's delight. One wrong word, and your goose could be cooked -- well, sued. Flirt with your supervisee, and instead of hearing angels on high, you could be listening to the sounds of a sexual harassment suit.

Workplace Gift Giving

And then there's the question of gifts. What to give and to whom? Gifts can be fraught: "That was too personal!" "That wasn't personal enough!" "That was too cheap!" "That was too extravagant!" Well, not that.

This drummer boy recommends giving low-cost, low-risk presents, such as a platter of your to-die-for chocolate chip cookies, the most inspirational book you ever read or what I give: A musical holiday card -- that's a CD of me playing weird renditions of my favorite Christmas carols and Hanukkah songs.

Also, don't make yourself crazy. Do you really have to get presents or even send cards to every single one of your coworkers? If you're a boss, perhaps you might get everyone to agree that each employee, at random, is assigned one office mate to get a present for.

Even more fun, do a gift exchange. Have all the employees bring a wrapped present costing no more than $5 or $10. On slips of paper, write the numbers from 1 to however many employees there are. Fold the papers up and have each employee choose a number. The person who picks 1, picks the first present. The person who draws 2 may take the present selected by the first person or can choose a wrapped present. The person who draws 3 may take either present selected by the first two, or may pick a wrapped present, and so on. If someone's gift is taken, the person can choose a new gift from someone else or one that's still wrapped. This continues until everyone has a gift.

What It's Really About

Too many people are unhappy around the holidays. They run themselves ragged trying to come up with presents for too many people they don't care that much about. They expect too much: a Norman Rockwell dinner, the present they always wanted, romance when they didn't have it all year, etc. Consider scaling down the size and expectations for your holidays. Buy, or better, make presents only for the people you really care about, and the heck with sending out 9,000 cards. Take the time to enjoy the holidays' simple pleasures: the music, the beautifully decorated homes and whatever other delights you don't take the time to enjoy the rest of the year.

[Dr. Marty Nemko is a career coach in private practice and coauthor of Cool Careers for Dummies. His radio show airs Sundays from 11 a.m. to noon PT on KALW 91.7 FM. Look for 200-plus of his articles on Marty Nemko's Web Site.]

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