Why December is the Biggest Month for Your Career

snow-bridgeIn years past, one might have assumed January to be the biggest month for career strategy. Most of what contributes to our professional landscape has changed in the last few years and that has changed how we implement our career strategies. The biggest change to our professional landscape is the frequency of disruption. Innovations are changing your world faster than ever before. Technologies and professionals now face the same obstacles — they must stay relevant to survive. The process of job transition is also influenced by our new professional landscape.

  • First of all, the frequency has changed. The average tenure for an executive is now only 18 months. Whether it is a company pivot, new PE investors or M&A activity, the C-suite is the first to find themselves displaced. A successful career strategy must involve consistently checking your market value and evaluating your return in the same way you would evaluate your investment portfolios. You cannot afford not to or you risk being obsolete and unemployed
  • Secondly, “click submit” is no longer a job search strategy. It’s now about the “pull” not the “push.”

Push vs. Pull Job Search

The truth is everyone wants the high-hanging fruit. “High-hanging fruit” is a phrase used to describe the sought after, employed talent that is too busy to be looking at job postings. A great way to position yourself as “high-hanging fruit” and still be proactive is to optimize your LinkedIn profile to make sure the recruiter or company stakeholder finds you. Pull, don’t push!

High-Hanging Fruit is Your Competition, so Your Competition is Everyone

In a good economy, almost everyone is passively looking, so given that your competition is everyone, then competition is steep. When competition is steep, getting in the door is more difficult. While applying to jobs may make you feel productive, surveys show that only about 15% of positions were filled through job boards. Most executive level positions are filled through network referrals. Eighty-five percent of jobs filled through referrals!?!?!?! You must be the referral!

Why Referrals Get the Job

Think of it this way, let’s say you are going to remodel your kitchen, which of the following would you do first?

  • Post on a plethora of service websites what you need with all of the detailed kitchen measurements and materials you wish to use.
  • Research all of the service provider websites and read the reviews, specializations, locations and qualifications.
  • Shoot an email to a friend who just did her kitchen that she was extremely happy with and ask her who she used.

The keyword is FIRST. You might end up doing #1 and #2 if #3 did not work out or even just to make sure your friend’s suggestion was, after all, the best choice. Now you can see why December is the career action month. When hiring is budgeted and becomes more defined in January, you must already be referred. January will be busy for everyone. It will be busy for you at your current job, busy for hiring managers and recruiters. In January, you can be more passive about your job search and let your dream job call you out of the blue — if you did everything right in December.

5 Things You Need to do in December to Help Your Career in the Coming Year

  1. Optimize your LinkedIn profile. Optimize for the job you want and the one you have.
  2. Connect with people on LinkedIn. Think past bosses and subordinates, supply chain contacts, recruiters and anyone you meet out and about.
  3. Make the call. Many of our members are saying they have been able to get conversations with people they would never have reached before COVID. Even top executives are actually taking calls. Zoom meetings and email overload is resulting in more willingness to just talk.
  4. Update your resume. Having a resume that speaks to your value is even more important at the executive level because opportunities are fewer and farther in-between and you cannot afford to not be prepared.
  5. Help others. The rule of the universe revolves around giving first. Take a call in which you may not see a benefit for yourself in taking or chat with a college kid looking for advice. Do this with no “angle.” When things do work out for you in the future, there is a good chance it will have been as a result of having done something nice for someone with no expectation of getting something in return. That’s networking at its finest!

Also, get involved with causes you care about. You will meet others with similar passions. Those with similar passions will go above and beyond the call of social duty to network on your behalf. You never know who you will meet.

Saundra Botts

Saundra Botts

Saundra is an ExecuNet Career Strategist and Career Coach. Working 1:1 with high-level senior executives, Saundra provides strategic guidance and coaching to help ExecuNet members land their next great opportunity. This includes uncovering their unique personal value proposition and defining competitive differentiators to advance their careers. Additionally, she provides detailed feedback for improving a personal marketing collateral—well beyond their résumé. Leveraging her expertise, Saundra guides executives through the entire process from entering the job market, which for most is their first time, identifying the path to success, to onboarding with their new company and beyond to create job security.

Saundra is known for “opening doors” and has also facilitated Job Search and Transition Workshops for universities, FENG (Financial Executive Networking Group), and various executive leadership groups. Her depth of experience includes has over 15 years in Retained Search and contingency placement within corporate accounting and finance sector with First Call Search, Dubin & Lee and WinterWyman Search. Saundra has consulted with clients, ranging from start-ups to multi-billion-dollar conglomerates. She has worked with $12 billion companies building accounting and finance teams, succession planning, and hiring, as well as filling key positions at many medium-sized, publicly-traded companies; non-profits; and universities in Boston, Miami and Los Angeles.

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