Holiday Season Job Searching Tips

Exchanging Christmas Gifts
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Are you about to start a job search or are you in the midst of looking for a new job? If you are considering waiting to start your job or putting it on hold because of the holidays, think again.

Contrary to popular opinion, the holidays are a good time of year to find a job. Employers don't stop hiring just because it's the holiday season. Vacation time might mean that your interviews will be spread out over more time, but companies will still review applications and schedule those interviews. In addition, the holiday season is a perfect time of year to network your way to a new job.

Hiring is a Year-Round Process

Executive Dave Harshbarger explains why hiring continues, regardless of the time of year. "For many of us, the holiday season is a time to sit back and relax, to take a break from business, to focus our attention on friends and family. For businesses, the needs that drive hiring throughout the year don't change just because the paid holidays are bunched up on the last pages of the calendar."

He explains that at many companies hiring and personnel activities continue at all times of the year, because the needs that drive hiring - competitive pressures, growing markets, strategic initiatives - don't take a break.

And, sometimes companies have an annual budget and head count that's timed to the calendar year. In this case, managers may be quite eager to conclude hiring by the start of the next year, since the budget may not roll over. 

Hiring Continues During the Holiday Season

Harshbarger adds, "Hiring during the holidays is sometimes complicated because key decision makers are absent. In the case of hiring, arguably the most important decision companies make, it is common for key individuals to interrupt their vacations (where feasible) to meet with short listed candidates. In all cases, we understand that to meet our goals in the New Year, it is critical that we stay focused on our staffing plans even as we turn our gaze homeward."

If you do land interviews during the holiday season, it's possible that they will occur over video chat or phone calls to accommodate vacationers' schedules. 

Tips for a Successful Holiday Job Search

As you can see, employers continue to focus on hiring, even though there is a temptation to do otherwise. The same should hold true for job seekers. It can be easier to say "I'm not going to bother, it's a bad time of year for job hunting." than it is to move forward with a job search. However, for those who do keep plugging away, the additional opportunities are worth the effort.

Don't Slow Down Your Job Search
Some people give up job searching between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day. Don't be one of them. Employers are still hiring and there may be less competition, from other job seekers this time of year. In addition, companies that budget on an annual basis may have jobs that they need to hire for now.

Use Down Time to Your Advantage
If you're working at a company where the holiday season is a slow one, take advantage. If you have vacation time you need to use up, schedule some networking meetings. It's an ideal time of year to connect with acquaintances you haven't been in touch with in a while, both to celebrate the holiday season and to let them know you're in the market for a job.

If you have extra time, you can also use it to update your resume, refresh your LinkedIn profile, or create a portfolio. 

Use Personal and Professional Events for Networking
If you are attending a holiday social event, it is definitely appropriate to mention that you are job searching. Accept all the invitations you receive, both personal and professional. You never know who may be able to help. Friends and family, as well as business acquaintances, are typically more than happy to assist.

Note that holiday-themed volunteer events are another opportunity to expand your network by meeting more people, and to share that you're job searching.  

Send Holiday Cards
Sending a "Happy Holidays" or a "Happy New Year" greeting card to networking contacts, recruiters, and to employers you have interviewed with is another good way to connect with those who can help with your job search.

Connect Online
Send an email or use a professional or social networking site (like LinkedIn or Facebook) to get in touch. The holiday season is a good excuse to touch base and a good time to reinforce or expand your network.

Relax and Enjoy
During this time of year, it's also important to take some time for yourself and your family. Do relax a little and don't forget to enjoy the holiday season. That's important for all of us, whether we are job seeking or not.