Most of us have a lot to do during the holidays. There are more social events, more family obligations, more errands and chores — our calendars start to look pretty crowded. So it might be tempting to put your job search on pause. A lot of people assume that no one gets hired during the holidays — so why bother looking?
But the fact is, no matter how busy your holiday schedule is, now is not the time to halt job-search activities. (In a recent article on MainStreet.com, “Why You Should Apply for Jobs Right Now,” I mentioned some of the reasons why.) For one thing, although hiring may slow down a bit during the season, it by no means stops altogether: Comparing December 2010 to November 2010, the Monster Employment Index shows a slight dip in job posts on corporate career Web sites and job boards, including Monster.com — about three percent. A percentage-point drop in the single digits shouldn’t be overestimated — the data certainly doesn’t say, “Take a break from your job search.”
In fact, organizations often find themselves in urgent hiring situations at the end of the year. For example, a manager may learn of a hiring freeze in the coming year and decide to fill a position before the gate closes, or, conversely, a forecast of an increased Q1 budget may cause a manager to add a new position to his or her team at the end of the year.
This December, Give Yourself the Gift of Career Success
Here are some tips for keeping your job search going through the holiday season:
1. Don’t overlook temporary positions. A healthy portion of them become permanent — and “holiday” jobs aren’t just about retail positions. Plenty of companies have end-of-year crunch times and seek out extra help through temp agencies.
(For tips on getting a seasonal job, read “Get Hired for the Holidays.”)
2. Use “down time” to spruce up your online presence. How long has it been since you updated your resume on Monster.com? Or added to your professional profile on BeKnown? Or wrote a blog post related to your industry? These are the kinds of maintenance activities that can slip to the bottom of our to-do lists during the rest of the year. If you’re finding fewer jobs to apply for online, use this extra time to get your online profile in shape.
(For tips on maximizing your online presence, read “Build Your Brand.”)
3. Seek out volunteer work. All sorts of philanthropic organizations ramp up activities during the holidays — and volunteering can be a great way to network, gain skills and fill the gap that unemployment might otherwise leave on your resume. Plus, you’ll meet other volunteers — philanthropically minded and community-minded people who may be able to help you in your job search.
4. Make the most of networking opportunities. You don’t want to make every conversation about your job search, but letting people know how they can help you is crucial. So have your “elevator pitch” — who you are, what you want, and why — ready and perfect. And try to keep things positive: for instance, when you tell people you’re looking for work, also tell them how you’ve been productive with your time off.
The holidays are a great reason to reach out to friends and acquaintances, as well as to reconnect with professional contacts you may have fallen out of contact with. You can send a holiday greeting (“Happy New Year” is a safe sentiment if you don’t know which holidays a contact celebrates) with some upbeat news about your job search and a note of gratitude for the help you’ve received throughout the past year. Make it personal (no one wants spam as a holiday gift).
And remember that the holidays are a time for giving. Find ways to help the people in your network, and they’ll be likelier to help you in the future.
5. Recommit to your job search.
Start the year off right: Make an appointment with yourself to determine your goals for the coming year. Then schedule some time to update your resume, practice your interview skills and set some job-search goals.