Do you think a job search during the holidays from Thanksgiving through New Year's is a waste of time? Think again. A giant myth with job seekers is the assumption that companies are winding down for the year, putting existing jobs on hold, and not opening new jobs. It's just not true.
While there might be some slowdown in recruiting near the end of year, much of that has to do with economic and industry challenges rather than an automatic shutdown in job vacancies. That means the job market is wide open to those looking for a new job. The following tips will show you how to take advantage of your job search this time of year.
The great part of the holidays is that you have an excuse to reach out to your professional network and wish them good tidings. You can provide a simple hello along with an update of your search efforts. Sending an email or e-card is OK, but if you can, sending a small written note that is more personal and sincere, will stand-out more than any electronic greeting. Don’t forget that recruiters are also eager to close jobs. Reach out to both independent recruiters and placement firms as an additional way to broadcast your job availability.
Whether the party is corporate or personal—attend as many as you can, even if you come as a guest. Working the crowd means talking about your job search as a natural part of the conversation. If you are asked, “What do you do?” feel empowered to give your elevator pitch on your experience and current status. Don’t be afraid to mention you are unemployed and actively seeking the next opportunity. The key in engaging and connecting with someone who might hire you is to be confident and concise. This approach seals the first impression and likelihood you’ll end up with a job lead or a referral. Make sure to ask for a business card or e-mail address and always follow-up during and after the holidays.
Many companies are in a frenzy closing out the end of the year and preparing for the new year. Still, it’s worth reaching out to these companies, since some will offer temporary seasonal jobs to fill the void. This could be the best chance for you to get into a company that is not otherwise hiring full-time positions. The assignment may be brief, but the employer will have a first-hand view of your performance and consider you—a proven and trained resource—for new full-time openings in the new year.
Another great advantage of the holiday season is having time to catch up on training. Keep yourself sharp and current by taking classes to maintain your core skills, or attend end of the year meetings of professional organizations and do more networking. You can even get in touch with résumé and career coaches to update your job profile. If you stay busy improving yourself, you’ll be more focused and connected in identifying your next job opportunity.
Even though you might think employers are in the holiday mood and closing jobs for the season, putting a stop to your job search equals missed opportunities both during and after the holidays. Stay as vigorous with your search as you were in the months prior to the holidays and be ready for last minute call backs and interviews. The truth is, many people hang up their search because of holiday obligations, so your competition for a position may be lower provided you remain flexible and act quickly.
During holiday social gatherings it’s perfectly OK to mention you are on the market. The difference is, you want to focus on building relationships and new connections, rather than make people feel like they owe you something. If someone is curious and wants to learn more, keep your answers short and sweet. You don’t want to kill your chances of making a good impression by giving a long drawn out story of why you are looking or don’t have work. People are at a party to have fun and be upbeat, not hear about the problems of others.
In many ways a job search during the holidays is no different than any other time in the year. You will need to stay focused on your search plan and not worry too much about the response rate of companies. Keep in mind that the holidays are a bit trickier because everyone has more personal obligations than usual. Be patient and positive that your research efforts and broadcasting your availability will pay off. We can all get frustrated, but remember that a negative and pessimistic attitude will always cut your chances of a landing a job.
When you don’t have a job at this time of year, it can be hard to be joyful and filled with the holiday spirit. It can help to surround yourself with family, friends, and those who care about you most. For some, it helps to give back to those who are in the most need by volunteering at one of the many organizations who desperately need help this time of year. Who knows, all of this activity might lead to an employment opportunity that may have not presented itself otherwise.
Job hunting during the holidays is not a time to slow down, but rather accelerate, your job search. Like you, companies are trying very hard to fill the headcount needs they planned for earlier in the year and also as their last minute needs emerge. If you stick to your job search plan and stay aware of opportunities, the holidays can offer you a wonderful gift — employment.
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