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Career Coach: Holiday Prep

In this month's column, Pamela Kleibrink Thompson offers some advance holiday preparation to ease the anxiety and make it more meaningful to your career.

Pamela Kleibrink Thompson.

The holidays are just around the corner, which means shopping and spending, travel and holiday cards and parties. (Next month we’ll talk about how to party and have fun without negatively impacting your career.)

Advance preparation is key to making the holidays less stressful and more successful and meaningful -- for your career.


Prepare for holiday spending by setting a budget and sticking to it. Budget not only for gifts, but also for other expenditures such as postage for holiday cards, travel, parties and holiday performances.

Make a list of those people you want to buy gifts for and list ideas next to their names. Also include the amount to be spent. If you start the gift buying early, you might get better deals on your gifts than if you wait until the last minute. Actors might want to give something to their agents and assistants as well as casting directors. Writers might want to give a gift to their agents and story editors.

If you have a large office, suggest starting a gift exchange this year in which you draw a name of a person and buy only for that individual. It will give everyone more time and less stress. Don’t buy more than you can afford (especially during this current economic downturn). And that means being able to pay off the item in the month you purchase it. Don’t carry any credit card debt from holiday gifts.

Keep a list of gifts you’ve already sent to be sure you don’t repeat gifts. And take note when someone mentions a special interest to you so you can find something with personal significance for that person.

Set aside some time or money and give to a charity. Make it a habit. You’ll see you’ll get back much more than you give. An excellent choice for charity is the Phyllis Craig Scholarship Fund which helps support talented young people to grow their creative talent. All donations are tax deductible. If you are interested in making a donation, please call the Women In Animation hotline at (818) 759-9596 or write to: Women In Animation, Inc., P.O. Box 17706, Encino, California 91416-7706.


Prepare for holiday travel by submitting your request for time off early (about six to eight weeks before you’d like it). Put it in writing and keep a copy. Your manager may forget a verbal request. Follow up one month before your requested time off with a reminder to your supervisor of your scheduled vacation.

You might be traveling on an airplane, train or hovercraft during this season. Who knows who you’ll meet or who you’ll be sitting next to? Don’t be afraid to introduce yourself to the person standing near you or sitting next to you. Be ready with your elevator pitch -- a brief introduction. Make the first move. You never know who you’ll meet. My friend Tom met his wife Annie while waiting for a plane at LAX.

Holiday Cards

Don’t choose the holidays to send annual greetings. It will get lost in the deluge of holiday mail and gifts. Instead try the technique my friend Michael does, who sends out valentines instead. Choose any holiday you want to celebrate the people you know. It’s most effective to send greetings on the recipient’s birthday. Prepare for correspondence by making a list with contact info of all those you want to communicate with -- those people you met this year at conferences, classes, job fairs, meetings and those you met at interviews (even if you didn't get the job and already sent them a thank you note after the interview). On your list include colleagues and co-workers as well as anyone who has referred you to someone else.

My friend Kyle, who is a character designer and storyboard artist, sends me a sketchbook calendar after the holidays are over, which includes his art work as well as his contact info on both the cover and on every page. It’s very clever and I look forward to getting this every year.

If you insist on sending holiday greetings, send cards and gifts before Thanksgiving. Give thanks to anyone who has helped you. Here’s a chance to express your appreciation and show your creativity. Photo cards are effective. Send your cards by Thanksgiving to stand out from the onslaught of mail.

If you are well prepared, you’ll be able to enjoy this season of peace, joy and good will.

Pamela Kleibrink Thompson is a recruiter, career coach and international speaker. She wants to thank AWN for giving her writing a home since 1999. For personal career coaching, recruiting and speaking engagements, contact Pamela at