7 ways to prevent burnout in the job search

burnout2Here’s a story about a man I knew years back. His name was Ted and he was in his sixties, failing in health, and had a frail wife at home. I saw him often when I visited an urban career center in central Massachusetts.

One day I was conducting intakes of participants with disabilities for a computer training program I was coordinating. After my sixth intake I was exhausted, so I walked over to where Ted always sat.

I asked him how things were going in his search. He told me not so good. Curious, I asked him how much time he was spending on the job search. He told me he spent 60-70 hours a week on it. “The job search is a full-time job,” he told me without skipping a beat.

I asked him how things were going in his life. I meant his home life, not his job search. With all seriousness he told me that his wife and he were on the verge of a divorce. “She’s mad at me being out of the house so much,” he said, as his eyes teared up. “But I have to find a job,” he finished.

While it was unclear whether a divorce was eminent because  of the long hours Ted was spending looking for work, it was crystal clear that the outrageous amount of time he was spending was doing more harm than good.

When I tell this story to my workshop attendees, I end by saying, “Don’t be like Ted.” I tell this story when bringing up the topic of commitment to the job search. How many hours should one commit to the search? If the job search is a full-time job, as Ted said, should jobseekers dedicate that much time?

My answer to them is no; spending as much time on the job search as Ted did can lead to burnout. Some ways to prevent burnout are:

  1. Developing a plan. The plan I’m speaking of should ideally be day-to-day, even hour-to-hour, which can be kept on an Excel spreadsheet. If this seems a bit daunting, try to reach at least 60% of your goals. Don’t exceed six hours a day during the week and don’t let up on the weekends, which can be a great opportunity to put a bug in people’s ears about your situation. Without a plan you’ll end up spinning your wheels, going nowhere quick.
  2. Using different methods to look for work. Networking has always proved to be the best way to look for work. Supplement that with LinkedIn. Make follow-up calls. Even knock on companies’ doors if it’s a possibility. Spending six hours a day on the Internet is not a good use of your time. You’ll feel more productive if you employ a variety of methods; just don’t spread yourself thin. Four methods should be fine.
  3. Taking a break. You are most likely going through a roller coaster ride of emotions. You need time to take occasional breaks to regroup. Not too long, mind you; but long enough to regain your energy. Go on walks or to the gym, or if the weather’s nice sit on a bench and take time to reflect about your plan. Decide on a day during the week when you’ll put the job search on hold; maybe go to the beach with your family, or putter around the house.
  4. Volunteering in your area of work. Volunteering is a good idea for a number of reasons. One, you put yourself in a position to network with people who are currently working and may have ideas or contacts who can be of use. Two, it keeps you active; you’re not spending time sitting at home behind your computer. Finally, you can enhance the skills you have or develop new ones. Perhaps you’re an expert at HTML but need to know Java. Find an organization that needs a website developed and has the time for you to get up to speed.
  5. Getting job-search assistance. Your local One-Stop career center, an outplacement agency (if you were granted one by your employer), and alumni association are sources of job-search advice. And they will also keep you preoccupied from your current situation. Many people who come to our career center speak not only of the advice we provide, but also the emotional support we give them.
  6. Joining a networking group. The benefits of joining a networking group, large or small, are obvious; but consider how they can offer support and a reason to get out of your home. I tell my workshop attendees that getting out of the house is essential to emotional health. A meet-up group consisting of four to five people may be more your style. Whichever you prefer, keep in mind that you must offer career advice and support as well.
  7. Seeking professional help if needed. Sometimes the stress of being out of work is too much to handle on your own. You may feel anxious and even depressed. It’s important to realize this, or take advice from family and friends, and seek help from a therapist. You may find talking with a third-party person refreshing, non-judgmental.

I don’t know what happened to Ted, how his job search went and if his marriage lasted. Before I left him that day—the last day I saw him—I told him to “give it a break.” I’m not sure he took my advice; he probably didn’t due to his stubborn nature. He was unrelenting in his desire to find a job. I see hints of Ted in some of the jobseekers who come to our career center. And I worry they’ll turn out like Ted.

7 ways to set yourself apart in the job search

Set apartIn my personal life I drive a van. I’m a van dad; a chauffeur for my kids and their friends. Every night I eat cereal, Great Grains with cranberries, to be exact. Not good for my waistline. Another fact about me is The Big Bang Theory and The Middle are two of my favorite television shows.

On the surface I’m not a very exciting guy. When my friends ask me if I’m staying out of trouble, I tell them I wish I could get into trouble.

On a professional level, though, people I’ve never met approach me and tell me that they’ve heard about me. Oh no. Is there a warrant out for me? No there isn’t, they assure me. They’ve heard about my expertise in the job-search or LinkedIn. Or they’ve seen me on LinkedIn numerous times (but they haven’t hidden me). Some of my customer say my name pops up at the networking groups they attend. It’s all good they tell me.

Although my personal life wouldn’t excite a three year-old child, my professional life is worthy of recognition. While you’re in the job search, it’s important to set yourself apart. After work, you can drive a van. Here are seven tips on how to do it.

1. Create a great first impression: This is a topic of which I’ve written and preach to my customers until I’m blue in the face. How you appear in your job search makes a huge difference. Your appearance includes your facial expression, tone of voice, body language, even how you dress. Especially how you dress!

Despite how you feel internally, portray a person who’s enthusiastic about finding your next job. Set yourself apart by expressing the value you offer employers, not talking about your current situation like a customer of mine who mentions during his introduction that he’s been out of work for a year. Those who can help you want to see and hear confidence, not listen to you bemoan how long you’ve been out of work.

2. Listen to people: Do you set yourself apart from other networkers by being willing to listen without cutting them off? Are you that unique person who asks what you can do for others before asking for advice or leads? This will set you apart in the job search; make people want to listen to you by listening to them.

Also remember that networking is ongoing. You don’t need to attend networking events (although that’s great) to be successful. You must connect with people everyday, everywhere. While it’s important to attend networking events, it’s more important that you take advantage of connecting with people who may provide you with your next opportunity.

3. Carry personal business cards: Those who have  business cards are seen as serious about their job search. You’ll carry your business cards, most obviously, to  networking events, but also to social functions, conferences, family gatherings, basically everywhere. 

Your personal business cards should sufficiently tell people about what you do and how well you do it. Read this article on why business cards are important and what information to include on them. They’re not candy, so don’t hand them out to everyone. One of my close connections has a great tip on how NOT to be a card pusher.

4. Hone up on your telephone skills: Whether it’s a telephone interview or a conversation with a potential contact, are you prepared for the call? You may require talking points, or even a script—though this is not encouraged—to make the conversation go smoothly.

Set yourself apart by being articulate and expressing your views clearly. Always think of how you can show value to a potential employer or contact, and include your relevant accomplishments in your conversation. Be sure to mention a “call-to-action,” e.g., “When can I meet with the hiring manager at the company?” Or, “It would be great to meet for coffee.”

5. Request informational interviews: Are you prepared for the informational interview (I prefer calling them “networking meetings“), so you don’t waste the person’s time? Set yourself apart by bringing to the meeting intelligent questions that create a thought-provoking conversation. Don’t waste the person’s time. After all, she’s granting you time she probably can’t spare. Your goal is to impress her.

Keep in mind that most companies are trying to fill positions through referrals. If your conversation goes well and you come across as someone who can solve the company’s problems, you might be referred to the hiring manager. At the very least, you’ll be given other people with whom you can speak.

6. Write compelling résumés/cover letters: Recruiters and hiring managers are complaining about résumés and cover letters they’ve received that are…well, terrible. They are littered with spelling errors, typos, and grammatical mistakes. Take the time to proofread your marketing literature. Better yet, have other people proofread what you submit to employers.

Don’t simply set  yourself apart by submitting a error-free résumé and cover letter. Write one that is tailored for that job, includes quantified accomplishments, and consistent with your branding, etc. Employers want to know that you understand the requirements of the position and that you can meet those requirements.

Anton7. Make your presence on LinkedIn: Because 96% of recruiters/hiring managers use LinkedIn to cull talent, it’s imperative that you’re on LinkedIn. Your job is to get found (read this article on SEO), but once you’re found you want to impress your potential employer.

My default photo of someone who sets himself apart is on the right and one I share with my workshop attendees. They all agree that he is branding himself as a photographer, doing a great job of setting himself apart.

Bringing it all together: By night I’m a van driving dad, a cereal eater, and watcher of The Big Bang Theory and The Middle; but at work I’m setting myself apart with my expertise in the job search and LinkedIn. I’m happy with my personal and professional lives. Think about how you can set yourself apart from the competition. You may not use the aforementioned methods, but try to include the majority of them.

What are some other ways people can set themselves apart in the job search?

2 areas where extraverts can improve in the job search

writing-resume

With the plethora of job-search advice for introverts (Is) and approximately zero for extraverts (Es), it must make the Es feel…unloved. I’d like to give some love to the Es, because that’s the kind of nice guy I am. In this post I’ll advise the Es on mistakes they can avoid.

There are two components of a jobseeker’s marketing campaign, written and verbal communications, where Es can use some help. We’ll look at the résumé, networking, and the interview.

1. Written communications. For most, the job search begins with submitting a résumé and possibly a cover letter to the employer. The act of writing a résumé can sometimes be problematic for the Es, who prefer speaking over writing.

Is, on the other hand, prefer writing than conversing and, as a rule, excel in this area. The Is are more reflective and take their time to write their marketing materials. They prepare by researching the position and company–almost to a fault.

Es must resist the urge to hastily write a résumé that fails to accomplish: addressing the job requirements in order of priority, highlighting relevant accomplishments, and promoting branding. One excuse I hear from my extraverted customers for faltering in this area is that they’ll nail the interview. At this point I tell them they “ain’t” getting to the interview without a résumé.

Where the Es can shine in this area of the job search is the distribution of their written material. They are natural networkers who understand the importance of getting the résumé into the hands of decision makers and, as such, should resist simply posting their résumé to every job board out there. This is where the Is can take a lesson from their counterpart, the ability to network with ease.

2. Verbal communications. Speaking of networking; the Es are generally more comfortable than introverts when it comes to attending formal networking events. But not all Es are master networkers. The main faux pas of poor networkers is loquaciousness, which is a fancy word for talking too much. While Is are often accused of not talking enough, the Es have to know when to shut the motor—a tall order for some Es.

stop talkingNetworking isn’t about who can say the most in a three-hour time period. Take a lesson from the Is who listen to what others have to say. People appreciate being listened to.

Many of my extraverted customers tell me they talk too much, and some have admitted they botch interviews because they—you got it—talk too much. Some of them say they can’t help it. Es are known to be very confident at interviews, which is a good thing. But they can also be over confident which leads them to ignore the tenets of good interviewing. That’s a bad thing.

At interviews the Es must keep in mind that it’s not a time to control the conversation. The interviewer/s have a certain number of questions they need to ask the candidates, so it’s best to answer them succinctly while also supplying the proper amount of information.

Lou Adler writes in an article this about answers that are too long: “The best answers are 1-2 minutes long….Interviewees who talk too much are considered self-absorbed, boring and imprecise. Worse, after two minutes the interviewer tunes you out and doesn’t hear a thing you’ve said.”

One more area the Es must work on is conducting the proper research before an interview. They are confident verbal communicators and may see no need to research the job, company, and competition; thus going in unprepared. Winging it is not going to win the job; the person with the right answers will.

The Is, on the hand, could take a lesson from the Es’ playbook in terms of confidence during the interview. They need to speak more freely and quicker; rather then reflecting and appearing to reflect too much. This is where the Is preparation comes in handy.

There has to be a middle ground, referred to by folks like Daniel Pink as ambiverts, when it comes to reaching the right amount of talking and listening at networking events and interviews. Accordingly, the Es who “score” slight in clarity on the continuum (11-13) are more likely to be better listeners, as well as comfortable with small talk. This is likely true for introverts who also score in the slight range.

When it comes to written and verbal communications in the job search, Es have to be cognizant of taking their time constructing their résumés and knowing when it’s time to listen as opposed to talking too much. Without understanding the importance of effective written and verbal communications, the job search for the Es can be a long haul.

10 things you need to consider about your attitude when looking for work


Angry WomanI posted this article a year ago on this site but I feel it’s worth repeating. 
I’ve also added two examples of behavior that contribute to a poor attitude.

No one will argue that being unemployed isn’t a traumatic experience, especially me. I was on the receiving end approximately nine years ago and now I work with people in the same situation. Being unemployed isn’t what I’d wish on anyone.

Your negative attitude shows itself in how you appear and the way you communicate. Demonstrations of your mannerisms precedes any opportunity to appear before an employer. Failing to control your mannerisms can prevent you from getting to the interview.

Below are some signs of a negative attitude. These are things you should keep in mind when going out in public.

  1. Apparel is one of the most obvious aspects of your attitude. This is why I list it first. During the summer, when it’s hot, please refrain from wearing gym shorts and tee-shirts with Budweiser advertisements. At all times make sure you are well-groomed and presentable—you never know when a potential employer might be just around the corner.
  2. Your countenance is more noticeable than you think. I’ve witnessed people who walk into the career center looking as if they’d like to strike anyone in their path. Their mouth looks like it was chiseled into a constant frown. There seems to be hatred in their eyes. This can be intimidating, if not off-putting.
  3. Arrogance impresses no one. You may have been outstanding at what you did, and you may be outstanding in the future, but keep in mind that diplomacy is your best card at this time. You will be relying on many people to help you in your job search, and most people don’t appreciate being looked down upon.
  4. And your posture. How you enter a room says a great deal about your attitude. Walking in with an erect posture says you’re confident. On the flip side, slouching as you enter a room indicates lack of confidence and in some cases hopelessness. You may be tired, worn out; but try to project the confidence people are drawn to.
  5. Be outgoing…or at least fake it. For you introverts (I can relate), try to use every opportunity to network. Your most vital job search technique must include networking. Networking doesn’t necessarily mean going to large arranged events—maybe your thing is small get-together. Real networking is a daily thing and that’s why you have to be on your game every day. Always think of helping others in whichever way you can. The help you need will come around.
  6. Mind your manners. “Thank you,” “It was great seeing you,” “Hope your day is wonderful,” etc., go a long way. These are things we learned in Kindergarten, yet not all of us practice the niceties as much as we should. I am often thanked by customers after a workshop. It’s nice to be appreciated, to know I play a small part in their finding a job.
  7. Be prepared to talk about yourself. I’m not talking about a contrived elevator pitch which can be more irritating than impressive. Talk about your passion and how it’s led to your success. Explain your situation—you’re in transition but see hope—and your needs. Also listen to what others have to say; no one appreciates someone who does all the talking.
  8. Don’t appear desperate and despondent. Most people want to help you, but if you seem like you are giving up the battle—your peers, career advisors, and people employed in your industry—will doubt your ability to succeed at your next job. “Don’t let ‘em see you sweat.”
  9. Hide your anger. Some of the people I help don’t hide their anger. I tell them their anger comes across loud and clear and…it impresses no one. Yes, you were unfairly let go; but people are not drawn to anger. They’re pushed away.
  10. Think about the endgame. This means following-up. Have the attitude that follow-up is essential in the job search. Tell someone you’ll call them, call them. Tell someone you’ll meed them for coffee, meet them for coffee. Don’t drop the ball. When you don’t follow up,  you lose possible opportunities.

Why does this matter?

Simply put, your job search is ongoing. You are being judged wherever you go. The man or woman who has the authority to hire you, may be standing behind you in the checkout line. Those who try to help you take into account the aforementioned aspects of your overall attitude. If given the choice to recommend someone for a position, anyone is likely to back the person who has their attitude in check.

As I’ve said, maintaining a pleasant demeanor and appearing positive is difficult under an extremely stressful situation like being unemployed; but I’ll guarantee you that a negative approach to conquering unemployment will not lead to quick employment. Be mindful at all times how you appear to others.


Top photo courteous of Flickr, Laura Vanzo

10 tips jobseekers must heed for a successful job search

And a short story about how my son didn’t listen.

The other day, my son and I were shooting hoops. He was loving it. I was hating it, for the mere fact that my fingers were numb from the cold. To add to my frustration, I was telling him to layup the ball with his opposite hand, but he wasn’t listening. “Why do I need to do layups with my left hand?” he asked me.

basketball

“Because you need to be multi-talented,” I told him. “You need to be able to layup the ball with your opposite hand when you’re forced to the left side.” I’ve never played organized basketball, so I’m not sure my advice was sound; but it sounded good.

While I was “coaching” my 14-year-old kid, I got to thinking about the advice I give jobseekers, most of whom listen and others (like my son) who don’t. The ones who listen are those who send me e-mail or even stop by the career center to tell me about their upcoming interviews or, best of all, their new jobs. It’s all about the effort they put into their job search that makes the difference. They do the hard work, while I simply provide the theory. Such as:

  1. Begin with proper attitude. All too often I hear negativity from my jobseekers. “I’ll never get hired because I’m over qualified.” Or, “There are no jobs out there.” Talk like this will get you nowhere, as I tell my customers. People are more likely to help people who appear positive, as opposed to negative. I’m not saying you must feel positive; I’m just saying appear positive. As the saying goes, “Fake it till you make it.”
  2. Your first impressions matter more than you think. First of all, are you dressed for the job search? What do you mean, you wonder. I mean you’re on stage every time you leave the house, so don’t walk around in clothes you’d wear while cutting the lawn. Always look people in the eyes while delivering a firm handshake that doesn’t crush their hand.
  3. Network, network, network. Tell everyone you know that you’re looking for work. Be clear as to what you want to do and where you want to do it. Clearly explain your occupation (human resources vs. human services is a big difference), your greatest attributes, and your extensive experience. Whenever you talk with someone in your community and the opportunity arises, mention you’re between jobs. Attend jobseeker networking events to gain leads and provide leads; remember, networking is a two-way street.
  4. Penetrate the Hidden Job Market. Which coincidentally  has a great deal to do with networking. Look for jobs where most people aren’t. “Why?” as my son would ask me. Simple, employers gain a lot more from not advertising their positions than they do if they advertise. They prefer to promote from within or get referrals from trusted sources. Advertising comes with  a slew of problems–tons of résumés to read and interviewing strangers. What really frustrates me is when I ask my customers who they’re looking for work, and they list a slew of job boards…and that’s it.
  5. Approach growing companies. This will require gathering your Labor Market Information, which can be done in a number of ways. I suggest developing a list of companies for which you’d like to work and visit their websites to see if there’s growth. Growth equals possible hiring in the future. Sources like business journals, the stock market, networking in the community and at organized events, are all viable options. Once you know which companies are growing, send them an approach letter or call them to get within their walls.
  6. When applying for jobs: research, research, research. Always know the requirements for the jobs for which you apply. Which major skills are most important and can you speak of accomplishments of how you’ve demonstrated them. Know about the companies as well in terms of their products, services, mission statement, etc. This will come in handy when you write your résumé and other written marketing material, as well as when you interview.
  7. Market yourself with professional targeted résumés. DO NOT send a one-fits-all résumé that fails to show the love; rather tailor your résumés for each job. Your résumés should include relevant quantified accomplishments and a strong Performance Profile that makes the employer want to read on. Don’t limit accomplishments to the Work History; include some accomplishment statements in the Performance Profile…the better to get employers’ attention.
  8. Send a cover letter with each résumé, unless instructed not to. True, some recruiters do not read cover letters, but many do. And if your job will involve writing, you must send a well-written, and here we go again, targeted cover letter. A cover letter does a great job of demonstrating your enthusiasm for the job and company to which you’re applying. It also points the reader to the relevant accomplishments on your résumé.
  9. Start a LinkedIn, FaceBook, or Twitter networking campaign. Online networking should not replace face-to-face networking; rather it should supplement your networking efforts. I lean more toward LinkedIn as an online networking and branding site. It is for professionals looking for jobs and advancing their business. Your LinkedIn profile should be outstanding like your résumé. If not, don’t advertise it.
  10. Dribble with your left hand. Yesterday I had our networking group do an exercise that was intended to have them think of other ways to look for work, as most of them were probably using the same methods without success. If looking for jobs six hours a day on the Internet isn’t working, try networking, or contacting a recruiter, or reaching out to your alumni, or retraining, etc.

My son didn’t listen to me when I told him to layup with his opposite hand, despite my constant harping. But he’ll soon learn his lesson when it comes game time and defenders will force him to his left. And my customers will hopefully follow these ten tips in order to make their job search shorter.

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10 ways to act professionally in the job search

ProfessionalimsMy daughter recently had to defend her position when she was accused of something that she and I felt was unjust. Nonetheless, before she spoke to the principal, I told her to act professionally.

The look on her face was priceless. “How should I act professionally in this situation, Dad?” she asked. Exactly. How do you act professionally in a situation that is less than desirable? The best answer I could give my daughter was, “Do your best. Just do your best.”

This recent event prompted me to think of 10 ways to act professionally in the job search:

  1. Treat people with respect. This is simple advice your mother gave you as a child. In your job search you’ll run into a helpful people and people who are…well putzes who think it’s all about them. Treat all of them with respect and work with the ones who treat you with respect.
  2. Resist the urge to only take and not give. The term “Pay it forward'” has real meaning. Create good karma by being a giver, understanding that the help you give others will be returned by someone else. One of my customers, who recently landed a job, was the epitome of a networker because of the leads she doled out like candy.
  3. Act positive. Having been unemployed myself, I understand the emotional ups and downs, as well as the financial burden, that go with being out of work. I’m not telling you to feel positive; I’m telling you to act positive. In other words fake it till you make it. Keep in mind that people feel more inclined to help those who appear positive.
  4. Dress the part. Put on the appearance of a professional by dressing properly, not like you’re heading to the beach. I can spot the jobseekers who aren’t fully into their job search by the way they dress, e.g., they wear tee-shirts instead of button-down shirts; yoga pants instead of dress pants or skirts. First appearances count; they really do.
  5. Be a student of the job search. I’ve witnessed those who understand the norms of the job search and those who don’t. The ones who do, dress appropriately, maintain a positive attitude (despite how they’re feeling inside), and follow proper etiquette. You are part of an organization called the Job Search.
  6. Be dedicated to your job search. I ask my workshop attendees how many hours a week they should dedicate to their job search. The ones who tell me what they think I want to hear say more than 40 hours. That might be a bit extreme, as there are other important things in your life, like family. I say 25-30 hours should suffice. Work smarter, not harder, as they say.
  7. Listen to constructive criticism. It is essential that you don’t get offended when someone critiques your “brilliant” résumé, interview performance, or networking etiquette. People generally want to help you in your job search. You’re not required to take their advice, but listen to what they have to say.
  8. Show up or call on time. In your case, it may be for the interview and appointments you’ve set up to meet with other jobseekers. The rule of never being late still applies. (Worse yet is forgetting entirely about an appointment, of which I’m guilty.) Call ahead if you’re going to be late, though. You might get some forgiveness.
  9. Realize the employer is not your enemy. Here’s the thing, the employer is only trying to hire the best person possible. Many hiring managers, HR, recruiters have been burned by hiring the wrong person—68% have done it at least once. Don’t create an adversary environment between you and the employer; you’ll lose.
  10. Follow up; always follow up. If you had a great meeting with a fellow jobseeker or you were granted an informational interview; always remember to respond with a thank you message and a call to action. Sometimes our meetings don’t warrant further action. Nonetheless, show your gratitude for the time the individual took to help you.

The story of my daughter turned out well–she was not at fault of what she was accused. I was proud of how my daughter handled the situation. She acted professionally and manged to create a positive atmosphere between her and the principal I, on the other hand, might not have done so well.

Start writing your family holiday networking newsletter

ThanksgivingLike me, you may receive holiday newsletters from friends and relatives who you see infrequently. You may look forward to receiving these yearly letters or dread them because they carry on for pages about personal information best saved for a therapist.

For jobseekers these newsletters can serve as a great way to network if written properly. You’re sending these holiday networking newsletters to people who care about your welfare and would like to help in any way they could.

Maybe your uncle Jake once worked at Raytheon and still has connections there, past or present; or your former roommate from college is doing well for himself in marketing in NYC. Your brother is active on LinkedIn and probably has connections living in your area. He’ll sing your praises for sure. The list of possibilities are great.

What to include in your personal holiday newsletter. Keep in mind that you’re not contacting employers or fellow job seeking networkers who understand the lingo and nuances of networking for work. (These networking letters speak a different language and are targeted to a specific audience.)

You’re reaching out to friends and relatives who know little to nothing about your situation or experience and goals, and who probably haven’t heard from you in awhile. Thus, the content should be light and unobtrusive.

The opening. First wish your recipients a happy holiday. You’ll start light and stay light during the entire letter. This is, after all, the holidays. “Hello loved ones. It’s been a busy year for the Jones, and we have a lot to tell you,” you might begin. “First let me start be telling you that we have a new puppy; I think that sums up ‘busy’.”

The middle. News about the family is always appreciated. “I’m proud to say that Tommy Jr. graduated from college and is interning at Dunn and Brad Street. Claire is enjoying her senior year in high school and much to the chagrin of Ellen and me (did I say that?) is dating a wonderful boy who dotes on her. She’ll be heading off to USC and he’ll be going to Boston College (Joy). Little Jason is entering high school with intentions of wrestling and playing soccer.”

Continue writing about what’s happening on the family front, but don’t brag too much. How many times have we read holiday newsletters that sound like a commercial for the all American family? Keep it real. However, don’t write negative content.

The conclusion. Be upbeat and positive as you tell your recipients about your current situation. You want your friends and relatives to think about how they may help; you don’t want to drive them away with demands or sound needy or despondent. “I think you may recall that I’m in transition from my position as director of marketing at my former software company. I’m in high spirits seeing my family and friends and relatives doing so well. This is a tough economy, and I know of many people out of work. Please keep me and others affected by the layoffs in your thoughts.”

Sign off with your telephone number and LinkedIn URL, if it feels appropriate. Also ask your recipients to write back with news about what’s going on in their lives. Good networking is not only about you, it’s also about those with whom you communicate no matter who the audience is. Show your interest as well.

Some important things to note: don’t ask if anyone knows of a job. You don’t want to put undue pressure on your friends and relatives who are not consumed with the labor market. The best delivery method for your letter will be a typed or hand-written letter delivered by snail mail, as it has a more personal touch and is more likely not to be forgotten.