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Take break from the job hunt this month

Editor's Note: Continuing our new series of occasional columns by Central Kentucky business experts, Michael J. Cronk, assistant director of career development at Transylvania University, will write about the job hunt. His columns will appear about once a month. Other experts will write about topics ranging from the national economy's impact locally to how small businesses can improve their marketing.

Last week, we saw the annual news reports about Cyber Monday, the day everyone stops using work computers for e-mail, spreadsheets and memos and uses them instead to shop for deals on Blu-ray players and Guitar Hero. Productivity goes out the window as the holiday shopping season bears down on us.

Hiring managers are no different. They, too, are thinking about the holidays, the shopping and having some time off.

Even with the terrible job market from this recession, December, in general, often feels like a lost month when it comes to hiring. There are some job postings, there might even be interviews, but there is no sense of urgency to get anyone hired before the New Year. So what can you do this month if you are trying to find a job?

Give yourself the gift of time off from the job search.

I know that sounds counterintuitive, but allow me to explain. If, like most people, you have been searching for a while, chances are you're experiencing a bit of the "bah humbugs," feeling depressed, despondent and pessimistic. It is perfectly reasonable to feel this way — the labor market just plain stinks, and you are doing everything and anything to find something for work, with little success.

You might feel bad if you decide not to look at the classifieds today, as if you are shirking your duties.

The thing is, your applications are a reflection of who you are as a candidate. If you are feeling down, you probably are sending out applications that are not vibrant, targeted or demonstrating enthusiasm for the positions for which you are applying. Thus, they are not likely to excite the human resources professionals who are reading them.

If your job-search strategy has been, "Oh, a job opening ... click to apply ... next," it is time to take a break and refocus. By taking some time off, you are making yourself a better candidate.

How do you refocus? You reflect. The holidays, coming as they do at the end of the calendar year, are a time when we reflect on our lives, give thanks for what we do have, and cautiously hope for better things to come. If you can take some time to pause, take a deep breath and think about your past successes, your abilities and future possibilities, you can regain a little perspective on yourself as a marketable candidate.

You also have, at your disposal, some valuable resources to help you reflect. Your friends and families are a constant reminder of what is truly important. Let them remind you what makes you special; what gifts and abilities you have for which they love and respect you. Let them remind you what a smile looks like.

Most companies are looking for employees to join their "families." What is valuable about you that they would want you to join theirs?

Give yourself the gift of time to answer that question. Then, when the new year arrives, you'll be ready to get back out there.