Job hunting during the holidays

It’s the most wonderful time of the year – for finding a new job!

While everyone else is asleep at the fruitcake during this holiday season, you could be working on finding that job on your wishlist. Don’t let a cold, deep hiring freeze – happening in most organizations – freeze you out from sharpening your interviewing skills, tweaking your resume, and making beneficial connections with people in your network. Maybe you won’t land a job during the holidays (but you might in some industries!), you will be leaps and bounds ahead on your hunt against the competition once the fresh start of a new year, new budgets, and new jobs to fill roll around.

Bah-humbug. What could be worse than ending 2020 having to look for a new job, particularly with the prospect of being stressed and let down because of the stiff competition against you during the winter months. The holidays are supposed to be a time filled with cheer, good tidings, and joy; and adding a job search will just make you a total grinch and the whole holiday season a drag – with you begging 2021 get here now! Right? Well, no. Not exactly. Yes, it’s true that many organizations really pump the breaks on hiring during the holidays, but that does not mean that the search for your next role should be paused. In fact, the holiday season can be a great, if not the best, time of year to put in the work to land that job ASAP come the new year.

The holidays are out

The holiday season can feel like watching the New Year’s Eve ball descend in Times Square…except those last 10 seconds of the countdown are spread over a couple of hectic months. We have lots to get done, joy to spread, and before you know it, 5…4…3…2…1…it’s over! All that work with nothing left but the torn wrapping and the glimmer of the lights.

It can also be a time of great reflection as you approach a new year. And when it comes to employment, it could be the time when you hope to become part of the workforce again because you’ve been out of work, or the time when you finally decide to be brave and change lanes in your career.

A fascinating statistic from a study by recruitment agency, Randstad US, about the art of the job hunt, profiled what the average job hunt looks like. Their findings indicate that it can take about five months on average to find and land a full-time or permanent role. Those five months include, on average, four different edited versions of a resumé, seven applications submitted, five job interviews attended, and four cover letters written. Careercast.com shares that people who start work early in the New Year have to interview for that job in November or December, not January. This means that jobs are likely found in a hunt that starts in September. And according to TopResume.com, January and February are two of the best months to start long-term, full-time jobs because these are the months when most companies receive updated budgets and sales forecasts; plus, executives have a better idea of what they need.

Where to look if you’re in a crunch

If critical factors like lack of necessary income and benefits to support yourself or your family are reasons for your job search, you might desire to find something fast, even before the New Year, if you can. The good news is that many organizations have become part of the strong, and often full-time, hiring trends during the coronavirus pandemic in 2020 and will continue to do a lot of hiring into the holiday season. According to Forbes, these include grocery, pharmacy, customer service, tech, healthcare, and financial organizations.

“I must tell you that your own networking is such an important piece to your job search.”

The U.S Department of Labor highlights certain industries that every year experience substantial seasonal variations in their business activity, and they show strong seasonal hiring patterns. Traditionally, employment grows substantially during the holiday season in eight retail industries: furniture and home furnishing stores, electronics and appliance stores, health and personal care stores, clothing and clothing accessory stores, sporting goods, hobby, book, and music stores, general merchandise stores, and a variety of miscellaneous store retailers (e.g., florists, office supply stores, gift shops, and pet shops) and non-store retailers (e.g., electronic shopping and mail-order houses, vending machine operators, and direct store establishments).

The retail industry is well known for a significant surge in seasonal hiring in sales and distribution roles. I should know; I worked in the retail industry for over a decade and can attest to the thousands of jobs created during seasonal hiring. But one key watch-out is this: just as strong seasonal hiring patterns emerge, with them come strong seasonal layoff patterns. So, unless you only need a short-term gig, seasonal work may not be the fit for you. It is not unheard of that some seasonal roles convert to permanent roles, but these roles are often short-lived.

What to do if not in a holiday rush? Be merry and mingle!

If you’re convinced that the holidays are the time to job hunt, but you’re not rushing to make ends meet, you might be a little more thoughtful in your approach. Do you start with revamping your resume, practicing your interviewing, and scouring the job boards? Check out this stat from TopResume.com: seventy-five percent of resumes are rejected in a company’s applicant tracking system (ATS) before they reach the hiring manager.

Okay, that’s rejection we don’t need, especially during the holidays. Also, the site shares that fifty-four percent of employers have rejected candidates based on their social media profiles. So, if you have a Facebook or Instagram account, now’s the time to double-check your privacy settings or at least limit those posts of you chugging eggnog at a holiday soiree. Wondering about the best place to get noticed? You guessed it; it’s LinkedIn. Seventy-seven percent of recruiters rely on LinkedIn not just to find talent but also to reach out to prospective candidates about job opportunities or just network. If you’re not on LinkedIn, give yourself the gift of getting on there or updating your profile with recent experience and skills and a captivating profile summary. Interact with others, share articles, and stay active.

“The job hunt takes time, so one thing to hold onto throughout it is patience and instilling within yourself an attitude of gratitude.”

I must tell you that your own networking is such an important piece of your job search puzzle. Again, according to TopResume.com, while job boards are certainly helpful tools for a job search, it’s important to look beyond them. Most job postings are not available online, with sixty percent of jobs found through networking instead.

Networking holiday functions are happening – even if virtually. Attend and mention that you are searching for a new job. Send a virtual or better-yet hand-written holiday card to those in your network who could be helpful in your search. Make your notes thoughtful, expressing your appreciation and admiration. Do your homework and research the companies you are interested in; sign up in their company talent networks and get to understand their culture and brand. Use this information to accompany networking invitations with hiring managers and recruiters who are easier to reach during the holidays. With the holiday spirit pervading everyone, you might just get yourself a discussion or meeting that could lead to something great.

Gratitude and gifts

The job hunt takes time, so one thing to hold onto throughout is patience and instilling yourself with an attitude of gratitude. Each day, you can start by being thankful for the work you are doing on your job search, what you are learning along the way, what you can do differently, and what you’re doing well so far. This mentality shift could pay off not just in your job search, but also in your relationships with others. Afterall, the holidays are the perfect time to show our thankfulness for what is around us. 

Lastly, if you’ve got everything you need, there is something you could ask Santa for this holiday season. Fast Company has the great idea of asking for helpful job search gifts such as subscriptions to trade magazines, memberships to professional organizations, and gift cards for new interview outfits. All these gifts will go much further for you this holiday than another sweater or bottle of wine.

I say let the holiday season be yours for the taking as you seek out new job opportunities! Take some of that holiday time and set it aside. Cozy up by the fire with a cup of cocoa and jumpstart that job search before the New Year; and with likely fewer applicants, it could be your optimum time.

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Julie Brendich
Julie is the owner of Harmony & Success Personal Coaching, LLC. She’s a long-time leadership development expert having spent over 20 years working in multiple industries, helping leaders become more effective and successful. She works with clients on the wisdom of the “Midlife Awakening” and how it can be the catalyst for massive, positive life transformation in not just their careers but also in their most precious relationships, self-care, and spirituality. She holds advanced degrees in psychology and is credentialed as a Master Spirit Life Coach and Certified Professional Coach through the International Coaching Federation. A midwestern native from the suburbs of Chicago, Julie approaches the coaching process with her clients in a down-to-earth way where each client can be their true selves. It is her life’s purpose and biggest joy to help midlife women achieve their goals.
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