You're not going to believe it, but I was shockingly on time for my 9AM flight to Dublin this morning. To the point where I am now leisurely drinking coffee and while I (start to) write today's email.
I get to kick it in the land of Guinness this week, one last 2017 work trip for an EMEA-wide Women's Leadership Day event. Always assumed Ireland would be magical at Christmastime--I promise to get into some charming shenanigans if at all possible.
In between hunting for leprechauns, it's gonna be a week filled with professional small talk with colleague-strangers and holiday party banter.
That's not something that scares me anymore--but man, it really is overwhelming and exhausting when you have no idea what to say.
This time of year is brimming with conversations you'd rather avoid if you're less-than-proud of your current career situation. If you'd rather quietly melt into a puddle than have to answer the "So, what are you up to these days?" question.
Sound familiar? Well, this email is for you.
Because here's the thing I've got two rules of thumb for you to follow in these kinds of situations.
First, let's pause and remember that every single conversation that starts like this is an opportunity for a new door to open.
I know that sounds like a bad poster slogan, but it's true. The more you give into your own career shame and pretend like everything is fine the way it is, the less opportunity you're giving your network to help you.
Because nobody can help you if you can't speak up. The world is not full of mind-readers and fairy godmothers.
Second, there's no legal requirement stating that you have to answer the "What are you up to?" question with your current salaried position (or lack thereof).
You know what's a lot more interesting than that? Talking about what you're interested in. Looking ahead, instead of regretting the past.
Here are some sample answers:
"I'm volunteering on a local campaign. It's been so interesting. I go in on Mondays, and..."
"I'm actually trying to learn Portuguese. My boyfriend's family is from Brazil, and...."
"I'm changing career paths, actually! I've decided to go into digital marketing, so I feel like I'm currently inhaling the internet. So far, I've learned that...."
It's not about being interesting--it's about being interested. People gravitate towards people who are alive, who are set on fire, who are curious about even one little thing.
Give yourself a break from the invisible career small talk police, because they don't exist. They're not coming. You are in charge here.
I'll be talking more in depth about strategies like these during my free annual career coaching call, Hired For The Holidays, happening THIS Sunday.
If you're job searching, or thinking about making a career move in the new year, this call is meant for you. Learn how to leverage what you've got and actually *speed up* your career progress while everyone else is drinking cocoa.