It’s a myth that companies don’t hire during the holidays. Just ask the jobseeker who was offered a job on Black Friday. Or the one who was invited in for a second interview two days before Christmas.
Putting your job search on hold between Thanksgiving and New Year’s isn’t just a bad idea — it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. Like hockey great Wayne Gretzky said, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” If you’re not looking for a job during the holidays, you’re not going to find one.
Employers hire all 12 months of the year. In fact, many new positions are funded to start with a new budget year —often coinciding with a new calendar year. Some managers have hiring “use it or lose it” budgets that must be spent before the end of the year. Both of these scenarios offer opportunities for jobseekers in December.
The holidays also offer some natural opportunities to network and spread the word about your job search: there are company parties, social gatherings, end-of-the-year professional association events, and even Christmas cards and letters. Many of these strategies are available whether you’re unemployed or you have a job but are looking to improve your situation.
Working on your job search during the holidays may also mean less competition from other candidates who put their job searches on hold. Many people wait until January — making it a New Year’s Resolution — to look for a new job. If you wait until January 2 to start — or restart — your job search, you’ll have more competition.
It may even be easier to connect with a hiring managers during December as many key personnel are in the office while lower level staff take paid holiday time off during the month.
Even if you aren’t offered a job in December, you can lay a lot of the groundwork by making connections before the end of the year, making it more likely that you’ll be hired quickly in the New Year.
Strategies for Holiday Job Searching
• Accept all invitations. Whether it’s a social or charity event, dinner party, spouse’s Christmas party, or professional association event, accept every invitation you receive, then use those opportunities to reacquaint yourself with people from all different walks of life. You never know who might be useful in your job search, and by making new connections and renewing old ones, you could be speaking to the person who will refer you for your next job. When the party is over, follow-up with anyone who offered good advice or a solid lead, or who just said “call me.” Take them at their word!
• Re-connect with old friends and colleagues. Your network can be a great source of information, job leads, and referrals. Get back in touch with previous co-workers and supervisors, people from high school and college, former neighbors, etc.
• Host your own holiday party. It doesn’t have to be anything formal or elaborate. Hosting your own holiday open house, dinner party, or get-together can help jumpstart your job search (that shouldn’t be the focus of your party, of course!). However, extending an invitation is a great excuse to reach out and talk with someone you haven’t spoken to in a while!
• Ask for specific information or help. For example, ask if the person knows anyone who works at “X” company instead of asking if they know of anyone hiring. During the holidays, your contacts might have more time to be of assistance, and they might be in a mood to be generous at this time of the year!
• Volunteer. There are many opportunities during the holidays to volunteer. Some of these opportunities might also help you build your network, make new connections, and bolster your résumé.
• Use holiday cards to connect. If Christmas cards, holiday letters, and e-greetings are part of your end-of-the-year tradition, mentioning your job search (if you’re currently unemployed, or your position is ending) can be a useful strategy. Let people know you’re looking!
• Create a business networking card. Develop a business card that lists your contact information and social media links — especially to your LinkedIn profile. You can use this in lieu of your normal business card — or instead of it, if you’re unemployed.
• Update your social media presence. If you don’t yet have a LinkedIn profile, now is the time to create one. If you have one, give it a fresh look. Is it time to update? Can you increase your number of connections — or solicit additional recommendations?
• Look for opportunities to get your foot in the door. If you’re currently unemployed, look for temporary or seasonal jobs that may lead to full-time positions.
• Connect with recruiters. Many are trying to reach year-end goals, and you
may have just the skills they’re looking for.
• Set a specific goal for your job search. Instead of setting a goal to get a
new job, your goal might be to make a certain number of new connections
or to schedule a certain number of informational interviews. Making
progress on this will ultimately help you achieve your goal of a new job.
• Make sure you’re reachable. You might be asked to interview at unusual times — for example, the day before Christmas. Keep your phone on — and make sure you’re checking your voice mail and email regularly!
Stay Positive and Be Patient
Don’t be surprised if you don’t hear anything back right away. A lot of people use their accumulated vacation time before the end of the year, so you may have to wait a bit longer than usual for a response to your résumé or follow-up after a job interview. Be patient, but persistent.
Be positive and check your attitude, too. This can be tough when you’re out of work, but it’s important to maintain a good attitude, or at least “fake it ‘til you make it.” Even if you’re not feeling it, act like you are, because employers want to hire positive, optimistic employees.
Also, watch out for employment scams as you try to make extra cash for the holidays. Don’t get caught up in scams like fake mystery shopping gigs, package processing rip-offs, or work-at-home cons. Check out job opportunities carefully. Never, ever, pay someone to give you a job, and never accept payments for work you haven’t done. There is no such thing as a free ride.
If your goal is to find a new job in the New Year, don’t put off your job search just because it’s the holiday season. A job search that starts in December gives you the opportunity to get hired before the end of the year — or to have momentum and a head start on other candidates once the calendar turns over on January 1.