(This post was originally published in 2010.)
Q: I’m unemployed right now, and I’ve heard that it’s a waste of time to conduct a job search during the holiday season. Should I just forget about it until January?
A: Not at all! Although the common wisdom is that the holidays are a bad time to do a job search, you can make the time very productive for yourself. While it’s true that fewer people leave positions during the holiday season (hanging on for year end bonuses and office parties) they do tend to begin the new year by making career moves. January is the start of the new calendar year and often the fiscal year, so many departments start filling positions that have been sitting vacant.
With all that activity beginning in January, you’ll want to have your resume in place in December so you’re positioned for interviewing right away. Because it’s a quiet time for job seekers, your resume may get more attention, being one of fewer in circulation. In addition, many CEOs and human resources directors aren’t as busy this time of year; some experts think that December may be the best time to reach decision makers.
Not everyone takes time off during the holidays. In fact, the people with hiring responsibilities may be more apt to pick up their own phone because their offices are so lightly staffed at this time of year. They may also have more time for activities such as informational interviews, as well as training new employees.
The end of the year is also a hot time for hiring in certain industries. Besides the obvious retail and seasonal entertainment opportunities, there are openings for skilled administrative and clerical staff. Many industries have year end projects relating to closing out the fiscal year and reporting. Tax related companies gear up now too, along with accounting and auditing firms.
Not sure where to begin your search? Try the staffing firms. Not only do about 55% of temporary workers use the positions as an entree into permanent employment, “temp to hire” is how many companies recruit their skilled staff.
Even if your search isn’t producing the results you want during the holidays, you can use the time to work on skill building, researching education opportunities, and long term career planning – the things that get neglected while you’re working full time.
You can also work on interview skills – practicing to answer tough questions and thinking of specific examples of how you solved problems and made a difference in your last place of work. The holiday season is a great opportunity to thank your network of contacts and supporters. Drop them a quick note telling them how much you appreciate their advice and assistance, and let them know how excited you are about your prospects in 2013. It’s a good way to keep in touch and remind them that you’re still looking.