With Thanksgiving and various winter holidays approaching, it may seem that the professional world is entering hibernation mode. It is a common belief that as the calendar year ends, hiring slows to an icy crawl as well. But just because the weather is getting cold, does that mean there is a hiring freeze as well?
There doesn’t seem to be a clear consensus on this myth, at least, according to the experts. CareerSideKick believes November and December are the two worst months to apply for jobs (though you should keep trying anyway!) as new hiring budgets come into play into the new year and fewer employees are on vacation in January.
TheBalanceCareers believes the opposite to be true. With less competition (often due to job seekers assuming companies aren’t hiring) and more holiday networking opportunities abound, the holidays are a superb time to find a new position. There may be hidden benefits as well, like potential holiday time off and extra money for the holidays themselves.
TopResume found many of the holiday hiring myths factual, but just as many to be fictional. Companies may be too busy to hire due to end-of-the-year commitments and deadlines and a lack of applicants. However, philosophically there is no reason to wait until spring to make a new hire, and there aren’t too many temporary hires that a permanent worker won’t be hired.
“After looking at all of the evidence, the jury cannot decide. On one hand, temporary hiring speeds up tremendously during the holidays — upwards of 100,000 temporary jobs are available at major corporations. On the other hand, there are fewer qualified candidates and less incentive for hiring managers to fill their open positions, so some may wait until the new year to resume their search for candidates.” -TopResume
Nevertheless, all the experts agree on one aspect: keep applying! There are still jobs out there, and as previously mentioned, fewer individuals apply at this time of year. If you’re determined to use the holiday season to your advantage, here are some of the most valuable tips:
It seems obvious, but networking is a year-round job in and of itself. But the holiday season actually offers plenty of seasonal options to make the process easier.
Have holiday parties coming up? Use those to your advantage! The holidays are one of the busiest seasons for social gatherings, and even just mentioning to your peers you’re looking for a job can start the process. Accept any invites you may get to maximize the number of contacts you can get in touch with. No matter what holidays you celebrate, generosity is a common theme.
This is also the perfect time of year to send holiday cards. Firsthand’s Jane Hurst had this to say:
“Everyone loves to receive handwritten notes—and they make strong and lasting impressions—so take the extra time to write notes to old friends you haven’t spoken with in a while, ex-colleagues, even relatives. You never know who might lead you to your next job interview.” -Hurst
Clean up your documents
Even if you believe your job search will slow down, there are ways to keep busy. The end of the year is the perfect time to tweak your important documents—no need to wait for spring cleaning.
Go over your resume and cover letters to make sure everything is up to date. Have you acquired any new skills or certifications but forgotten to add them thanks to the daily grind? This is the ideal time to add them to your resume. Make sure to tidy up any errors or misspellings as well, and do your best to keep the language action-oriented and show tangible results.
This is also a great time to reconnect with your references and make sure you have their information up to date (as well as their permission!).
“It’s both considerate and professional to ask to use someone as a reference—and important to let him or her know what you’ve been up to.” -The Muse’s Stacey Lastoe
Will you use the holidays to volunteer or find temporary work? Now is the time to add those experiences to your documents. Even if you aren’t actively looking and applying in November and December, you’ll be ready to hit the ground running in January and February.
Research and prepare contacts
The coming new year is always a time for introspection, and this applies to your career search as well. Take time to think about what experiences you’ve liked in your career journey and what you want in your next adventure. Take the time to brainstorm and come up with a plan.
The truth is many hiring managers will either be on vacation or busy with end-of-the-year tasks during the holiday season. That may make it hard to get in touch with the right people if you’re looking for your dream job. But there is plenty of work to be done that can get you in touch with the right people.
The Muse’s Stacey Lastoe believes this is a great time to get the ball rolling. Take the time to research the organizations you’d like to apply for and find the best people to get in touch with. Spend some time on LinkedIn and company websites to find the right people to connect with and start preparing your emails or direct messages.
The holidays are a great time to take some time to yourself and enjoy the company of friends and family while resetting your mental health, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be proactive in your job search. Many companies are still hiring, and with less competition around, you may get more opportunities thanks to your diligence. The holidays provide an ideal chance to prepare yourself for the next stage of your career, whether that’s an active search, finding a temporary opportunity, or simply setting yourself up for success in the spring.