Doostang News December 20: The Art of Office Gift Giving

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Holiday shopping for your loved ones can be hard enough, but trying to find the perfect gift for your boss or coworker can really add to your holiday stress.  Should you even get one in the first place?  And what’s appropriate?  Read on for some guidelines…

Understand the Office Policy

Offices can have some pretty complicated policies when it comes to gift giving.  After all, a company wants to avoid bribery or favoritism, and gifts around the holidays can get into some gray area.  Generally larger corporations are the ones that will have rules regarding what’s appropriate to give, so make sure you check before you stroll into the office with a toy sack slung over your shoulder.

Don’t Go Overboard

While you may be in a very giving mood this holiday season, it’s advisable not to go overboard with the gifts you pass out.  Organized office gift exchanges will generally have price limits in place, but if you’re going out on your own, don’t purchase anything that’s too extravagant or expensive.

Keep it Simple

Some good ideas for gifts include food baskets containing cookies, fruit, or candy – perfect for a coworker to share with his or her family.  You can also try exotic plants, or something that might be useful in the office.  Gift certificates are also a nice way to show your appreciation.  Yeah, all this stuff can seem boring and unoriginal, but you never know how another person’s taste might differ from yours, and it’s best to stay on the safe side.  You should avoid giving gifts that are tasteless or controversial, and stay away from giving clothes.  The bottom line here is to use your best judgment.  If you’re great friends with a coworker outside of the office, or have a really relaxed company culture, you probably have more latitude on gift options.

No Hurt Feelings

If you’re not going to be showering everyone in the office with presents, you probably shouldn’t make a big show of presenting a select few individuals with gift-wrapped goods.  Try to exchange gifts outside of the office or during after hours.  If this is impossible, do so discreetly.

Thanks and Come Again Next Year!

One final note – write a thank you note! It’s true that you don’t have to purchase something for every person who went out of his or her way to give you a gift, but you should remember to say thank you.  Writing a quick thank you note is a considerate gesture…and it locks you in to receive more cool stuff next holiday season!

Happy holidays,

The Doostang Team

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Doostang News December 13: How to Make Nice (and Not Naughty) at the Office Holiday Party

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It’s that time of year again.  Holiday cheer abounds, from the store discounts that start in October to… the infamous office holiday bash!  The office holiday party holds a warm spot in many a dutiful careerist’s heart – those who recall episodes of reckless inebriation, Yuletide meltdowns, or scandalous rounds of Spin the Dreidel.  Let’s face it: the combination of alcohol, holiday stress, and surly coworkers is a recipe for disaster.  That’s why you need to prepare yourself, and make sure you know how to behave beforehand!  Let’s discuss some ground rules:

Make Sure You Go

Thought you could avoid the pandemonium altogether?  Think again!  Skipping out on the office soiree is often perceived as a sign of disrespect.  Even though the invitation doesn’t always say it, assume that company gatherings usually fall under the “must attend” category – so blowing them off isn’t really an option.  Employers often spend big bucks putting these shindigs together.  Why?  To thrust you into precarious situations that could jeopardize your career?  Maybe some do.  But most like to celebrate in order to show their gratitude for all the work everyone has put in, and also to facilitate company bonding.  Take home point: don’t even think about home until you’ve put in at least a good 30 minutes of face time.

Putting the Office in Office Party

Remember:  even though an office holiday party is meant to be a social event, the professional context remains.  This means that your superiors are watching, ever mindful of who is behaving naughty and nice, and who’s going to get the nix, come Monday morning.  Limit yourself to a two-drink maximum if alcoholic beverages are available; or, better yet, don’t drink at all.  Pay attention to the part of the invitation that explains the dress code – formal or casual – and then dress more conservatively than you would normally; office holiday parties are no place for flagrant self-expression.  Finally, behave yourself.  No lewd behavior or forbidden office liaisons – there’s no sense in embarrassing yourself, or, worse yet, getting slapped with a sexual harassment complaint by HR.

Cocktail Conversation

We’ve already established that office conventions carry over into the after-hours office party, but that doesn’t mean that your cubicle chitchat has to also.  It’s okay to talk some business, but this is a social event.  Lighten up and broaden the conversation.  Otherwise, people will avoid talking to you and you’ll get pegged as uptight or boring.  Another mistake is to relax too much, and start complaining about your job, gossiping about coworkers, or discussing your pay.  Avoid any controversial subjects, especially those related to work.  Finally, branch out and talk to some people you don’t usually get to interact with during normal working hours.  Don’t forget that office parties can be a great chance to network, so don’t be afraid to engage with some of your superiors.

Holiday parties at the office can actually be a lot of fun, and bring out a more relaxed, fun side of the people you work with each day.  Just make sure to keep the obstreperous, party animal side of you in check!

Much love,

The Doostang Team

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How To Leverage the Holiday Season and Get Hired – 5 Reasons Holidays Are Job-Search Prime Time.

holiday-job-searchIf you’re about to put your job search on pause until after the holidays, here at Doostang we ask you to reconsider. Did you know that the holiday season might actually be the best time to apply to jobs, and has the potential to do wonders for your career search?

Here are the 5 reasons why the holidays are a great time for job seekers to get ahead, and some tips on how you can use this time to your advantage:

1) Spots Going to Waste

We’ve all heard those rumors about companies taking a break from hiring in December and resuming only well after the holidays. In reality, many employers are frantically trying to fill remaining openings before the New Year because of the fairly common “use it or lose it” policy for leftover spots. With a rapidly approaching deadline, hiring managers are more likely to hire (and hire fast!) the first person that seems to fit the job description. So make sure they have your resume!

For many companies, budgeting happens in the fall and as managers rethink priorities and positions, new openings might get created to fit the company’s growing needs for the upcoming year. The anticipated starting date for these jobs would fall on the beginning of the year. Do the math and it makes sense that the people getting hired for those spots send in their resumes and interview sometime during the holiday season.

2) Waning Competition

Many job seekers wholeheartedly believe that all their job-searching efforts during the holidays will be futile, and take a month-long break from sending in their applications. Not to mention, everyone is so distracted by the typical holiday frenzy that even the job seekers who have not completely backed off this season are much less active.

Use that to your advantage! Less competition means your odds of landing a job have just skyrocketed.

3) Networking Galore

The holidays provide an easy excuse to reconnect with your network and touch base with all your valuable business contacts. Catching up with old acquaintances could alert you of new insider hiring opportunities, while extending well wishes to your past employers might improve the quality of the references they provide.

Keep in mind that people are generally less busy with work (and in a more giving spirit) during the holidays, so they’d be more likely to assist you with your job search. Now is the time to get input on your resume, schedule those informational interviews, or ask for new introductions.

Furthermore, the abundance of holiday activities makes for easy new networking opportunities. From holiday parties to volunteering opportunities, the season is full of chances to meet new people who may prove to be invaluable in your job search.

4) Spark Up Conversation

With the end of the year, many employers are redefining the company goals and initiatives. Now more than ever, the hiring manager will have a clear idea of what the company’s long-term and short-term plans are, meaning it’s the best time for you to see the direction the company is headed in.

At an interview, make sure to inquire about these things. Ask leading questions about the company’s priorities for the upcoming year. Not only will you get a better sense of the company and whether or not it’s a good fit for you, you’ll have an extra chance to sell yourself. Tell your interviewer about the skills you possess that will help the company solve the challenges that will arise.

5) Self Improvement

With the extra free time you have during the holidays, do all those things you’ve been putting off that could make a difference in your job search. Rewrite your resume, update your LinkedIn profile, print out some business cards.

If you know you’re going to be receiving gifts and don’t know what to ask for, channel your job search into your wish list. Ask for things that can help you succeed, such as items to complete your interview look or resume prep books. If you’re short on ideas, here are some great gift ideas for job seekers to get you started.

Armed with that knowledge you can now take advantage of this holiday season and get the most out of your job search. If you pump up the volume while everyone else is laying low the employers are bound to notice.

So start applying to those top jobs on Doostang and take full advantage of everything this season has to offer.

Wishing you a happy job-search season,
The Doostang Team

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