Career Testing
Career Testing
Career Testing
CAREER DEVELOPMENT / JAN. 23, 2015
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How to Use the Holidays to Advance Your Career

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Indeed, your holiday time is a time for relaxation and fun -- but it can also be that needed break that gives you a little breathing room to work on advancing your career. Instead of spending your entire holiday lying on the sofa -- or sipping cocktails on a sunny beach -- carve out a little bit of time to take your career to the next level. Here’s how.

Take a few full days off first

You work hard, so first and foremost, don’t forget to actually spend time relaxing. If you’re one of those overworked, workaholic types, you may find it impossible to chill out and do nothing -- but guess what? When you free your mind from being overly busy, it can open up space for new ideas to come forth. During the first few days of your holiday, make a marked effort to just do nothing for part of the day. Whether that involves relaxing in a hotel hammock staring at the sky, or enjoying the view in your own backyard, just be sure to allow your mind to wander.

Keep a journal

Whether it’s free form writing, or a list-type format, follow your do-nothing time with some time jotting down ideas that have popped into your head regarding your career and where you see yourself in one, five or ten years. Ask yourself what you’d find yourself doing if money wasn’t an option, suggests the University of California-Berkeley, helping you get your creativity flowing. Also spend some time writing about what you’ve enjoyed in your current occupation or frustrations you’re having, so you’ll have something to look back on and reflect upon as you move toward a new career path.

Create a goals poster

Another great way to start visualizing your future: Create an actual visualization of what you aspire toward. Call it a collage, a goals poster, a doodle sheet or whatever you want, but the point is to cut out magazine pictures, draw cartoons or otherwise create a visual representation of your future. If you currently work as a telemarketer but you aim to be a manager in your company, you might cut out pictures of your ideal office furniture or a picture of a person in a business suit. If you aim to go back to university and complete your degree, you might draw an image of a graduation cap. The point here is to visualize the “wow” and “amazing” things you aim to accomplish in your life, suggests entrepreneur and mentor Amy Rees Anderson, in an article in Forbes.

Prep query letters and do research

Spend some of your holiday time dreaming -- but also get serious about moving forward. Right now, you have more time on your hands than you do when you’re working, so aim to carve out an hour or two on a few quiet days to research companies that may be hiring, or to get to know a recruiter who can help you in your new job search. Take a good look at your resume and add in any new experiences you’ve had that you may have not had time to include since the last time you edited it. And if you find jobs that you’re really interested in, write some well-crafted cover letters. If you’re looking over the Christmas holidays, however, it may be best to hold onto the letters and send them after the New Year, when hiring managers will be more likely to be back in the office. Provided, of course, that the job will still be open after that holiday break.

Network at those holiday parties

Whether it’s at a summer barbecue or a holiday party, remember that gatherings are always good places to meet new people and to pass around your business card, when appropriate. While it’s never good to talk poorly about your current employer or to admit you’re miserable in your current career, there are ways to tactfully mention that you’re looking to move up in your career during a party conversation. If you find anyone interested in hearing more about you and your career, get that person’s contact information on the spot, leaving the ball in your court and not theirs.

From dreaming about the future to carving out time to actually start moving forward with the next step, there are lots of things you can be doing to advance your career during your holidays.

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