Job hunting may be the last thing on your mind now that the holiday season is in full swing. But it turns out it can be a great time to land a new position.
Traditionally people assume their chances of getting hired between Thanksgiving and the New Year are nil. But lots of hiring managers are looking whether it’s because they have year-end budgets to use or there’s positions that need to be filled.
“Yes, some of the hiring slows down,” during the holidays, says Paul McDonald, senior executive director at Robert Half International, the staffing company. “But there is a fair amount of hiring now and through the end of the year.” It couldn’t be a better time for skilled workers to find new opportunities. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 4.7 million open positions at the end of September.
Even with the job market on the mend, there’s no doubt there are challenges with job searching this time of year. Hiring managers typically reduce the number of ads figuring no one is looking and recruiters assume their clients don’t need help, says Paul Slezak, co-founder of RecruitLoop.com, the recruitment website. Job seekers in turn put a hiatus on the job hunt, not realizing opportunities abound. “Believing that the Holiday Season is useless for job hunting can often become a self-fulfilling prophecy,” says Slezak. “It’s only impossible to find a new job over the holidays if you allow it to be.”
Taking advantage of the so-called slow period of the year will increase your chances of your resume being read by the right person or getting a call back from the recruiter. That’s because hiring managers looking during the holidays are more likely to be serious, says Robert Half’s McDonald. After all, who wants to waste people’s time during the holiday season.
Slezak of RecruitLoop.com says it’s a particularly good time to call on some recruiters in your desired industry. Yes, some may have taken off for vacation but others will be around. “Believe it or not there are recruiters out there at this time of the year literally twiddling their thumbs trying to appear busy in front of their bosses. They will jump at the opportunity to meet with a good candidate,” he says. “They will probably dedicate more time to your interview than they otherwise might during the year.”
If you do find a job you’re interested in on an online job board, Amanda Augustine, the job search expert for job website TheLadders.com says to jump on it right away and submit an application. A study by TheLadders found your chances of getting a call back can diminish greatly 72 hours after the job is published. “The holidays can also work in your favor - since many professionals decide to take time off around the holidays, your job applications will typically face less competition,” she says.
For those already employed who are looking to switch, McDonald says not to discount internal opportunities. Whether that means poking around the company job board or networking at company events, you want to feel out your current employer before looking elsewhere. A simple conversation with your boss about your career path can give you a good sense of your future at the company. Networking outside of the office, which is typically easier during the holidays because it’s a festive time of year, is also a must if you want to be hired. “Don’t turn down the invitations,” says McDonald. “If something is happening go. You never know who you are going to meet.”
Even if your goal is to land a full-time position, being flexible this time of year by taking on project work could lead to something more permanent. According to McDonald there’s a lot of demand between now and the end of the year and even through January if you are willing to work on a temporary basis. Many of those temporary, freelance and project work turns into full-time employment in the new year, he says. “Some of the best positions are given to those that continue to press ahead during this period of time,” says McDonald. “Many people start kicking back, start drinking eggnog, so don’t lose momentum.”