All I want for Christmas is. . .a referral?

If you’re still in college, you may be getting ready to go home for Thanksgiving soon. Now’s a good time to think about what you might want for Christmas. . .and how about asking for some job-search assistance in lieu of gifts this year?

The fact of the matter is that most of us are terrible at promoting ourselves. Our mothers taught us to be modest, and there’s a fine line between sounding confident and arrogant. Often it’s just easier (and more comfortable) to underplay our achievements. Also, it’s just a whole lot more effective to have someone else say nice things about you and talk about how talented you are than trying to do it yourself.

So what would happen if you were to tell your parents and relatives that for Christmas this year, you want each person to think of six or eight people that they believe you should talk to about your career. Ask them to contact each of those people, tell them a bit about you, and get their agreement to talk with you. The “gift” would be a list of those contacts—names, phone numbers, email addresses, and best times to call.

The trick to all this is that you absolutely have to make sure you then contact everyone so that you don’t inadvertently burn any bridges—for yourself or your family.

To make it a bit easier on your family, and to help them come up with appropriate contacts, you can provide each of them with a resume and a brief description of what you hope to do after college. You have two weeks until Thanksgiving: Make sure you get that resume cleaned up and your description written so you can pass them out to your family!