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Job Hunting During the Holidays

Theresa and Cara were walking through the mall a few weeks before Thanksgiving.   Christmas carols were playing in the background to get shoppers into an early holiday mood.  Theresa turned to Cara dismayed.

“I have been unemployed and looking for a job for almost a month—hearing that music reminds me that the holidays are really here and I will not be able to do any job hunting until after the New Year.  It makes me scared and depressed.”

Cara turned to her.  “I wouldn’t be so quick to look at this time of the year that way.  Remember me last year?  I was looking for a job during the holidays and found the season between Thanksgiving and the New Year to be a great time for job hunting.”

“You’ve got to be kidding!” Theresa answered back.  “It’s common knowledge that it is a waste of time trying to conduct a job search between Thanksgiving and New Years.”

Wrong. 

In fact, the holidays are a great time to look for a job.  Here’s why:

Less Competition

Competition is reduced this time of the year because of all the people who think nothing happens.  So they take time off from their job search.  If you don’t join their little vacation club, you are likely to get more attention because there is a smaller pool of applicants.

End of Year Openings

Although business does slow down during the holidays, it doesn’t come to a complete halt.  Amid all the shopping and partying, there is still serious work going on. Many organizations have openings and, because they do not want to lose their funding for the following year, they look to get those positions filled immediately.  Other companies are gearing up for new initiatives in 2010 so they have to move quickly.  Even if all the jobs aren’t filled by the end of the year, the staffing has to be well underway by then. Savvy companies are filling the pipeline now to fill crucial openings.

Decision makers are around more

Decision makers are around more because business travel slows during this time of the year.  Chances are it will be easier to connect with actual hiring managers and there is a good chance they will pick up the phone.  Be ready to have your short focused pitch ready each time you make a call.   You never know when you might catch that all important person.

Recruiters have more time

Recruiters have more time during this time of the year and they too, try to keep the pipeline filled.  Recruiters are highly motivated to achieve increased commission benchmarks through end of the year placements. Don’t be surprised if you get a call from a recruiter during this time…..it can be to your advantage to meet with them.

Touching base with your contacts

The holiday season is a great time to reconnect.  Touching base with all of your contacts to wish them happy holidays is a great way to let them know you are still available.  Think about people you have met in the past and former co-workers, clients, customers and vendors. You can send a quick email or a nice card and include an invitation for a quick drink or lunch. People are in a holiday mood and may be more available during this time of the year, than they were earlier.  Just remember to keep it light.  No one wants to be ambushed with a desperate plea.

Always have you Business/Networking Cards

There are unlimited opportunities for networking during the holidays, including community functions, school activities and accidentally bumping into people in the shopping mall.  It is a bonanza for schmoozing. Don’t carry around stacks of resumes but do have business cards with you at all times. Go to Vistaprint.com and get printed business card with your name and contact information (including email) and a 2 word descriptor of what you do….like Medical Assistant, or Production Manager and exchange them with the people you see.

Party Smart

Attend every event to which you are invited. Don’t let depression or embarrassment keep you at home.  Stay in control by preparing responses to anxiety-ridden questions, which can come up even when they are meant to be well meaning.  Tell people your search is proceeding well and emphasize you are looking for the best fit and are confident about your future.

Keep your Game Face on

Keep your game face on.  Fake it if you have to and turn questions around by asking about other peoples’ business.  Make plans for short follow up meetings.  Keep your head up and smile…….don’t let your body language contradict what you have to say. Keep your drinking to a minimum. It is never a good idea to have to worry about what you might have said.  Always hold your drink in your left hand so that your handshake won’t be wet and cold.

Volunteer

One really great technique for making contacts during the holiday is to volunteer.  You will provide needed help and make some valuable contacts. There are many groups that can use your help right now. If you have that extra time, put it to good use—you will be surprised at the benefits that come back to you.

“Thanks so much. I just hadn’t thought of any of those things, but I can see that you are right” said Theresa. “I can see that if I do these things, when January 4th rolls around, I will feel that my time has been productive and I won’t start the year with a terrible feeling in the pit of my stomach!”

Your job search should definitely not take a vaction during the holiday season. While progress may be slow, it is important to keep your strategy in place. Continue to send resumes, networking with colleagues and friends

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