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Preparing for the Holiday Season and Your Vacation

Employment Advice For Persons With Developmental Disabilities

drawing of a person thinking about their career

Artwork provided by an individual supported by Reena.

Dear Joanna,
The holiday season is coming soon. My disabilities result in increased anxiety around being unemployed during this time of the year. In general, I have a hard time relaxing, resting and having fun. Do you have any suggestions as to how I can enjoy the holiday season and continue my job search?

Signed: Relaxing & Resting

Dear R&R,

The holiday season can be difficult for both job seeker and employee alike and can be filled with anxiety and stress. You are not alone with having a hard time relaxing and enjoying during the break, when most companies are closed and employees are on vacation.

You can consider taking a break from your job search, however,  I have heard from people looking for work that this is actually the best time for your job search. Since many employees are in a “festive holiday mood”,  this could be an opportunity for you to setup information interviews for the New Year, apply for jobs and network. I’ve also learned that recruiters or hiring managers could be more open to helping you with your job search as they are less busy.

Career advice expert Leah Eichler in the “Globe & Mail” (Report on Business, 2013) recommends taking a break is critical for your health, well-being and work-life balance.

Below are some tips sourced from Eichler and from conversations with select employers that could help you have a stress free and much deserved holiday.

  1. Give warning. If you are a looking for work, and are taking a much deserved break, set an “out of office” setting in your email account. Change your voicemail and email to let people know that you are away from your desk at this time. If you doing this from your cell or home phone, do not be specific about dates and times. Create a professional voicemail indicating when you will be returning all messages. Mention that you “have limited access to emails and internet”. I would make an exception if you are expecting an important followup phone call or email from a potential employer or a person from your networking.
  2. Prioritize projects. If there is a job opening with a deadline date during your holiday then I would apply for it. Focus on urgent deadlines first. But if it’s not due until two weeks after you return, it can wait. This is priority, over a break, unless you are on vacation with no access to email or internet. Mention this in your “out of office” settings.
  3. Make a list. Before you leave for vacation or a break, create a to do list or a back to job search list.
  4. Clean up. There’s nothing worse than returning from your break or vacation to see that a pile of papers on your desk. So leave your area neat and tidy before leaving. Important files should be clearly labeled and accessible. A clean and organized desk can do wonders to alleviate anxiety.
  5. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Give yourself sufficient time when you return to sort through your emails, messages and other issues that have happened while you were away.

Happy holidays and enjoy your vacation or break!

Signed: Joanna

To submit your questions and comments to this column in confidence, please email Joanna Samuels, Employment Resource Specialist at Reena.