Asking Santa for a new job? Read this.

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Santa or no Santa, some reflection might be in order. (From Bart Fields via Flickr/Creative Commons.)

Today Josh Sanburn of TIME Moneyland points out that since a lot of other folks are checking out for the coming week or two, this might be a good time to buckle down and focus on your job search if you have some spare time. Here at Idealist, our site traffic does slow very predictably at between Thanksgiving and New Year’s. But as of this writing, there are still more than 6,400 jobs listed on our site.

Whether you’re planning to rest and reflect or squeeze in some job applications before the end of 2011, here are a few links that might help. All can be found in the Idealist Career Center.

  • The Five Lens Framework: Developed by the Office of Career Services at NYU’s Wagner School, this exercise helps you identify the primary frame you look through when viewing your own career path: Organization, Role, System, Issue, or Population.
  • Help with networking: If “networking” makes you cringe, think of it as “community engagement.” You might even walk into those holiday parties with a slightly different outlook.

What are your plans? Is late December a stretch when it’s critical to rest and recharge? Is that a necessity this year or a luxury?

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How does your organization recharge?

Last week we were very fortunate to be able to bring together our whole staff for a retreat in one of our home cities: Portland, OR.

Almost the whole team.

Before the retreat, we laid out seven goals. They included: Break out of our normal day-to-day work and recharge; challenge ourselves to think in new ways and learn new things; celebrate our successes; reflect on the past four months; look ahead at the next four; go in-depth on topics and projects that have organization-wide significance; be together and have fun!

    A typical day in Portland: our site developers look at a list of upcoming projects in order to prioritize them.

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    On the final morning of the retreat, we got out of the office and into the fresh air. (Pictured: Mike, Craig, Josh, Minnie, and Enzo.)

We surveyed the whole staff ahead of time to get input on the agenda and goals. People from every team led sessions on everything from knowledge sharing to agile software development to volunteer recruitment and appreciation.

Amy, facilitator extraordinaire, helped us develop ground rules for the whole retreat; Josh's wiki-like brain was put to the test during a trivia game.

Other highlights included visits from Holly Ross of NTEN and Suzanne Bader of Mosaic Consulting. Thank you both for your time and wisdom – you definitely helped us with the second goal, “challenge ourselves to think in new ways and learn new things”!

During a break, Diana even found time to teach her fellow Community Moderator, Kim, to ride a bike. Talk about being together and having fun:

Go Kim go!

Now that the retreat is over, we have a ton of planning and work to do – and that includes reflection about how to make future in-person gatherings even more effective.

What does your organization do to reconnect? If you organize staff retreats, I’d love to hear…

  • Is the emphasis on big visioning, nitty-gritty work and decisions, or something else?
  • Does your staff facilitate it, or do you rely on others to help lead your reflection and planning?
  • What other things do you take into account?

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Our 10 most popular posts of 2010

As 2010 draws to a close, I’ve been taking trips down memory lane with the help of Google Analytics. Here are some of the most popular topics and posts since January 1, 2010…

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Happy 2011 from all the Idealist.org bloggers! (Pictured: Jeremy and Diana)

Lots of you want to learn how to score your dream job. Some hits from the Career Corner:

We also try to cover events and themes that relate to the nonprofit sector more broadly; the most trafficked post on the subject was the one with the most alarming title: Will 200,000 U.S. Nonprofits Vanish in Two Weeks? Hope we didn’t scare you too much!

With regard to current events, the posts that struck the deepest chord were the ones about how to respond to the earthquake in Haiti in January; Helping Haiti: Things to Consider had the most views.

And then there were a whole bunch of posts that loosely fit under the category of “Resources” – books, websites, contests, events, and ideas that can help people move from good intentions to action:

I love this category. Why? I like to think of our website as one giant, hands-off matchmaker. Every day, hundreds of new opportunities appear on Idealist – from internships in faraway countries to events taking place down the street. And every day, thousands of you come to search for the perfect opportunity. We can’t help every single one of you find the perfect match, so we try to use the blog to highlight resources that lots of you might find useful or interesting.

We’ll keep highlighting these resources, and whether you identify as an activist, advocate, volunteer, everyday philanthropist, job seeker, or you simply, boldly embrace the label “Idealist,” I hope you’ll enjoy our shiny new blog as we head into 2011. Let us know what you think by leaving comments on the posts that grab your attention!

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