Conventional wisdom holds that job searching during the holidays is a huge waste of time. Employers simply don't hire this time of year, the thinking goes, so those in the job market often take December off, resolving to start fresh in the new year.
But waiting may not be wise. A recent survey of executive recruiters showed that more than two-thirds (69 percent) of employers said the number of jobs posted increases during November and December or remains the same as the rest of the year. Further, 53 percent of recruiters responding to the ExecuNet survey report that interviews are being scheduled during the last two months of the year.
While recruiters might be more keen to fill executive slots (which bring commissions), December can be a particularly good time of year for job seekers to search. After all, many employers are keen on hiring to ensure that they are fully staffed at the beginning of the year, says Wanda Barrett, recruiting manager at the Society for Human Resource Management.
Companies have specific goals that they need to meet in any given year, and it can be hard to meet those goals if one department or another is understaffed, Barrett says.
"They don't want more work being added to the people who are there," she says, adding that increased workloads often make for less happy employees. "No one wants to be doing two or three jobs at the same time."
Employers looking to hire people before the end of the year are busy interviewing applicants right now, because scheduling interviews during the final week of December can be a challenge, she says. "So don't assume that everybody has taken off and no one's paying attention."
As the ExecuNet survey notes, job seekers who suspend their searches are likely to be left in the dust by the competition. Seventy-nine percent of recruiters said the number of employed executives who return calls increases or holds steady throughout the holidays. In fact, November and December are a prime time to reach out to recruiters, as 78 percent of respondents say they are available and in the office.
If you're just starting or renewing your job search, a good place to start, of course, is with your resume -- by getting it in front of as many hiring managers as possible. That doesn't mean simply emailing or snail-mailing a bunch of them en masse. Rather, it means spending significant time targeting particular employers and jobs, and using key words to craft cover letters and resumes to the companies you're looking to work for and the job you're looking to get.
Such resume advice is good year-round, but eager job seekers this time of year also benefit from reduced competition and greater networking opportunities, says career-expert Deborah Brown-Volkman. She offers these insights:
- It's party season, which means organizations and associations of every stripe are holding get-togethers, making it a great time for networking.
- People are in good spirits, so likely more apt to help you or lend advice.
- The holidays provide job hunters with the perfect excuse to call up old colleagues and acquaintances just to see what's new.
- Once the conversational ball is rolling, it's easier to ask whether they know of any open jobs or companies who are hiring.
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