Like me, you may receive holiday newsletters from friends and relatives. You may look forward to receiving these yearly letters — or dread them because they carry on for pages, spilling personal information best saved for a therapist.
For job seekers, however, holiday newsletters can serve as great networking tools, if written properly. After all, you’re sending these holiday newsletters to people who care about your welfare, people who would probably like to help in any way they could.
Maybe your uncle Jake once worked at Raytheon and still has connections there, or your former roommate from college is doing well in marketing in New York City. Maybe your brother is active on LinkedIn and has connections living in your area. He’ll sing your praises for sure. There are a lot of possibilities.
What to Include in Your Personal Holiday Newsletter
Keep in mind that you’re not contacting employers or professional connections — you’re reaching out to friends and relatives, some of whom may not have heard from you in a while. Thus, the content should be light and unobtrusive.
First, wish your recipients a happy holiday, something like:
“Hello, loved ones! It’s been a busy year for the Joneses, and we have a lot to tell you. First, let me start by telling you that we have a new puppy — which gives you a good idea of what I mean by ‘busy.’ Ellen has me on house-training duties, and for the most part, I’m doing alright. I hope you get to see our puppy, who we’ve called ‘Messi,’ soon!”
News about the family is always appreciated:
“I’m proud to say that Tommy, Jr., graduated from college and is interning at Fidelity. It helps that he developed a network while in college. I’m proud that he understands the importance of building relationships.
“Claire is enjoying her senior year in high school and, much to the chagrin of Ellen and myself (did I say that?), is dating a wonderful boy who dotes on her. She’ll be heading off to UMaine, and he’ll be going to Florida State (joy!).
“Little Jason is entering high school with intentions of wrestling and playing soccer. He doesn’t seem to be thinking about what he wants to do after high school. He jokes about becoming a professional gamer. (Does that exist?) Really, Jason is a good boy; I’m not too worried.”
When writing about what’s happening on the family front, don’t brag too much. No one likes a holiday newsletter that sounds like a commercial for the all-American family. Keep it real, but do avoid negative content.
Be upbeat and positive as you tell your recipients about your current situation. You want your friends and relatives to think about how they may help; you don’t want to drive them away with demands or sound needy.
“You may recall that I’m in transition from my position as director of marketing at my former software company. I’m in high spirits seeing my family, friends, and relatives doing so well. This is a tough economy, and I know of many people out of work. Please keep me and others affected by the layoffs in your thoughts.”
Sign off with your telephone number, email address, and LinkedIn URL, if it feels appropriate. Ask your recipients to write back with news about what’s going on in their lives. Good networking is not only about you, it’s also about the people around you. Show your interest in them as well.
Finally, a postscript is a nice touch:
“PS: This Christmas Eve, I’m excited about ringing the bell for the Salvation Army. I’ll even be dressed as Santa. Jason said I’m a dork for doing this, but I can’t think of a better way to spend the night before Christmas than helping the needy.”
Some important things to note: don’t ask directly if anyone knows of a job. You don’t want to put undue pressure on your friends and relatives. The best delivery method is a typed or handwritten letter sent by snail mail, as it has a more personal touch and is less likely to be forgotten.
A version of this article originally appeared on Things Career Related.
Bob McIntosh, CPRW, is a career trainer who leads more than 15 job search workshops at an urban career center.