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Posted: Friday, December 06, 2002

THE GIFT OF UNEMPLOYMENT: It's a truly Grinchian reality: The boss hands you a pink slip for the holidays. Now what?

Mass holiday job cuts are no longer taboo. Don't try to hide unemployment from family and visiting friends, and be diligent about not feeling sorry for yourself, according to Meridian Resources, a career-transition agency based in Greenville, S.C.

''You'll need the support of family, friends, and colleagues to launch an effective job search,'' said Ron Grant, Meridian's president.

Be sure to ask your soon-to-be ex-employer about any job assistance the company can provide, and inquire about severance benefits.

Also, some companies will offer more if, for example, your job is disappearing some time early in the new year but you agree to stay on until then.

PRUDENT SPENDING: Post-turkey, the holiday shopping season is now in full blast. But just as Santa makes a list and checks it twice, so should you, credit counselors say, as a way to avoid a painful spending binge this month.

Mapping out your shopping foray before hitting the stores can help curb impulsive or extravagant buys, according to Cambridge Credit Counseling Corp.

Also, Cambridge says, resist retailers' credit offers, try to pay with a check, cash or debit card and develop an overall budget for your gift giving.

HOLIDAY JOB HUNTING: Contrary to popular perception, the holiday season can be a fine time to begin scouting a new job.

January is often the peak hiring month at many companies, making December an optimal time to get your resume before a hiring manager, according to The Five O'Clock Club, a career counseling agency.

Also, many managers reduce their travel toward the end of the year, so they're more likely to be in the office with time to peruse your resume or take your phone call.

Other factors in your favor are the abundance of holiday parties at which one can network, and the relative lack of competition, said Richard Bayer, the company's chief operating officer.

''Competition in November and December is minimal because most people still mistakenly believe that companies are just not interested during the holiday season,'' he said.



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