JOB SEARCH

The author says that many job seekers take a break from looking during the holidays, but that if you buy into this myth about searching in December for employment, you are losing one of the better job-searching seasons of the year.

Let’s face it: 2020 has been hard. Our essential workers are exhausted and everyone is feeling COVID-19 fatigue. The workforce has seen furloughs, layoffs, and pay cuts. Plus, the added challenges to working parents posed by the lack of child care and stress of managing remote learning.

It’s the end of the year, where we typically celebrate our annual accomplishments, so, be proud of what you have overcome and know that the challenges of today will pave the way for a brighter tomorrow.

’Tis the season to find a job

Many job seekers take a break from job searching during the holidays. It’s a hectic time of year and can be challenging to juggle all of the responsibilities of the season with keeping a job hunt moving forward. But, if you buy into this myth about December job searching, you are losing one of the better job-searching seasons of the year.

The current Berkshire unemployment rate is 6.9 percent (October 2020), and the statewide database shows 1,948 job openings in the region. The extended unemployment insurance benefits will be ending soon, so, don’t wait until the last minute to look for a job or enroll in a training opportunity.

Employers hire when they need new employees, and a slower holiday season for some businesses means more time for hiring. It can also mean less competition for available jobs as other job seekers take a break from their job hunt.

Here are some tips to keep you skating right along:

• There are jobs, and employers are hiring. Check out the job boards regularly at the MassHire Berkshire Career Center, BerkshireJobs.com, BerkshireEagle.com, Monster, LinkedIn, Indeed and CareerBuilder to see the array of opportunities.

• Network. Attend those virtual social and business gatherings to connect with people who can help. Tell everyone you know that you are looking for a job. Someone who knows your strengths may know of an available position that would be perfect for you.

• Don’t sit around waiting for your dream job to show up. Get out and volunteer or take part-time, seasonal and/or temporary work. Employers look highly on those who take the initiative and stay positive, and temporary jobs often become permanent.

• Do get organized. Design a new resume, post online and be methodical about your job search. Do something relating to your job search every day. The friendly staff at the MassHire Berkshire Career Center are eager to help spruce up you job search skills.

• Do try to keep a positive attitude and be patient. Understand that it does take some time to find employment, but that your upbeat attitude will help you be successful. Do not let those negative voices in your head get the best of you.

• Learn a new skill. There are many certificate and training programs offered to help you get on your career path. Visit masshireberkshire.com to see what training is available. Today’s new education and training opportunity can become tomorrow’s job.

You are not alone; MassHire is here to help

The holiday season usually offers time for thoughts about family and future as we celebrate religious festivals and begin a new year. For people who are unemployed or are concerned about company downsizing, the season can be filled with great uncertainty.

For those who are challenged by unemployment, please know that opportunities can be found during this season. Visit MassHireBerkshireCC.com for assistance on virtual job search, career planning, job listings, job clubs, workshops on job search techniques, data on labor market trends, resources to help find the right training opportunities and tools to help you conduct an effective job search.

Have a happy, healthy holiday

With COVID-19 cases on the rise and the holidays around the corner, you may be feeling stress from all over. Your family plans are changing. Daylight hours are getting shorter. The warm holiday traditions you cherish are upended. Not to mention, the holidays in a typical year can be overwhelming anyway.

Beyond that, outside stressors may be bearing down, too — kids at home, stressful work situations, worried about the elderly, and in a persistent pandemic. It’s normal to feel increased stress and anxiety. But, it is possible to have a happy and healthy season. Here are a few tips to help relieve the grinch of the season:

• Mentally prepare yourself of the holidays. Focus on what is most meaningful to you this holiday season.

• Make safe choices for your family. Whether you host a virtual dinner, spend the holidays at home or create new traditions, try to be creative and have a meaningful holiday season at home.

• Learn how to respond to feeling overwhelmed. When you find yourself feeling stressed, slow down and acknowledge why you may be feeling the way you are. Take a walk, do some deep, slow breathing and give yourself permission to not sweat the small stuff.

• Look on the sunny side. As daylight hours get shorter, you might find yourself lacking energy and motivation. Embrace winter and plan some fun activities (build a snowman, have a game night, host a virtual cooking class, or have a dance party by yourself or with your family).

• Keep on moving. Exercise helps boost your mood (do fitness videos, take a walk, use workout equipment) anything to get your heart rate up.

• Take time for yourself. Reset. Moderate. Organize. Connect (check on your loved ones through phone or video).

Give everyone the benefit of the doubt in December. It’s a chaotic and stressful time, and we are all carrying a heavy load. Express gratitude. Remember to thank your colleagues, vendors and customers for their support over the past year.

Being grateful increases happiness and motivation. Take a moment and remember all the good things you accomplished, earned, experienced and discovered in 2020. Celebrate your awesomeness, and have a merry and bright new year.

Heather Boulger is executive director of the MassHire Berkshire Workforce Board in Pittsfield.