how to job search over the holidays

Many people looking for a job halt their search over the holidays, believing that employers aren’t doing much hiring at this time of year. But actually, many employers are continuing hiring as normal and some are even scrambling to fill positions before the new year. What’s more, you’ll have less competition right now, since so many job seekers slow down their searches.

The holidays also present special opportunities that smart job seekers can take advantage of. Here are five ways to adjust your search at this time of year.

1. Get back in touch with connections. The holidays are a great opportunity to reconnect with people you might have fallen out of touch with during the year. Reach out to former coworkers, past managers, friends, and other contacts, and reestablish any connections you might have let lapse. Send holiday cards and notes, call people when it feels appropriate, and generally get back in touch with people who used to be a presence in your life.

2. Network during holiday events. Take advantage of the many holiday parties at this time of year. Attend as many events as you can, and make a point of mentioning your job search to people – old friends and strangers alike. You never know who might have a lead that turns into your next job. (Don’t be overly pushy about this, of course; your search shouldn’t be the first thing out of your mouth. But make sure it comes up in the course of your conversations.)

3. Throw a party yourself. There are plenty of reasons to gather with friends at this time of year, but one extra advantage to job seekers is that you can make sure to invite contacts you’d like to reconnect with. This is a low-key way to get back in touch with people in your network (social, as well as professional) and put yourself, your skill set, and your job search more in the forefront of your contacts’ minds.

4. Be flexible. Companies that are trying to make a hire before the new year are often trying to move quickly but may have limited interviewing slots available, due to the vacation schedules of the people involved in the hiring process. Be willing to juggle your schedule if needed to make yourself available when they can talk. That might mean being flexible about your holiday plans or being willing to come back on short notice if asked.

5. Be patient with your follow-up. Because people often take time off at this time of year, you might find that some take longer to get back to you or need to wait for a decision-maker to return from vacation before a hiring decision can be finalized. Do still follow up politely after an interview to reiterate your interest, but don’t be discouraged if it takes longer than usual to hear back from employers – hiring is still going on!

I originally published this at U.S. News & World Report.

{ 14 comments… read them below }

  1. AdAgencyChick*

    Alison, thank you for letting your readers know that yes, hiring still happens this time of year.

    I, for one, would dearly like to hire a couple of people right now, but the flow of resumes is at a trickle. Honestly, it doesn’t matter if you tell me you can’t start until next year because you’ve already bought plane tickets — I just want to know that I can start the process before next year so it’s not, like, March before I get someone in here!

    1. Rob*

      That’s awesome to see someone who is hiring – as I am looking for a job right now.

      That being said, I never stop searching and even though there has been a slight decline in the number of openings, I could get a call for an interview when I least expect one!

    2. Emmy*

      When “the flow of resumes is at a trickle,” is that a good thing or a bad thing for the job-seeker?

      I went through a phone interview last week for a position I would really love (I’m currently employed but looking to move up and move on) and the recruiter told me that they had been advertising for this position since late October but haven’t gotten as much response/applicants. Is there reason for me to take this as a bad thing? Does it mean that they won’t hire until they meet a critical mass of applicants? I’ve never heard this from any job I’ve applied for and I was taken aback that she even mentioned it. She did say that they were looking to hire soon because the hiring process has been long delayed but I just don’t know what to make of that in the context of having not many applicants…

      1. Meg*

        I don’t think you can really read into that as anything to do with your application. I think the takeaway is that they’re probably not devoting enough time to really getting a strong group of applicants together– it means not just posting on Idealist but really probing your networks and your networks’ networks to really get the word out to a diverse, qualified crowd. At my current workplace, I watched some of my co-workers spend almost a whole year between putting up an initial job posting, not getting anyone applying that they were really excited about, putting the posting up again many months later, and then choosing between two people in another tiny applicant pool. Meanwhile, it only took us a month to hire a different position this year because we spent a lot of effort reaching out and getting a large, strong applicant pool. The bottom line really ends up being whether the hiring manager thinks they found the right person– hopefully not pressured by the feeling that the job has been open too long, but that is a reality too.

  2. anon-2*

    I’m reminded of the scene in “Kramer v. Kramer” – where Ted Kramer visits a company holiday party, presents his resume, and lands the dream job.

    The only time in my 40-year career where I was out of work – my family wanted me to take a trip over the Thanksgiving weekend – “Who would do hiring on the day after Thanksgiving?” — guess what happened — that was “THE” day I got a position after being out for several months.

    And I interviewed for – and came to an agreement – on my current position, many years ago — in the week between Christmas and New Year’s.

  3. Meg*

    Yes, great post! My office is hiring right now, and we are currently amping up our strategy for getting the word out, because so far we haven’t gotten any applicants that fit the bill. So it’s up to us to get out to our contacts individually and spread the word so we can get a strong applicant pool (which, of course, we’d do anyway, but I suspect that the so-far trickle does have to do with this holiday slow-down phenomenon).

  4. Job seeker*

    Alison, I want you to know how much I appreciate all the information on this blog and from the articles on U.S. News and World Report. You have helped me so much these past few months. I applied for a job this morning that was at a place I messed up with awhile ago. It was only part-time since I am helping my mother right now.

    I almost had a job a month ago at a different company, but the hours were more than I could do right now. I had one of the best interviews there and I credit reading your interview guide and e-book. I hope the job I applied for today is a real job. I know a few people that work there and was told sometimes they already have someone in mind, but are required to post the job on the webpage anyway. At least, I sent them a cover letter and resume that is very professional. I wish I could go back through time and do this in the first place. I intend to keep looking but keep hoping somehow I can break through this barrier.

    Please know you really help so many people that do not know how to go about getting a job in today’s market. To say I appreciate and admire you is a understatement.

  5. Elizabeth West*

    I’m seeing a few less postings this month (which isn’t saying much, since they are few and far between anyway), but they’re still there and I’m still looking. I have to–my unemployment runs out in a couple of weeks.

    And–oh wow. A job I turned down because I just could not manage to budget on the low salary is open again. At the same salary. I’m sure they know this is one reason they probably won’t get/keep someone good, but it’s a local government job and there is nothing they can do about the pay.

  6. Lia*

    I have an interview at the end of the week — don’t stop believing!!

    Thanks for the push to keep up the search. Seems like the impending-holiday quiet is a good time to get noticed.

  7. Laura*

    I have an interview at the end of the week as well. Just so you know school systems are hiring like crazy now… There’s maternity leave, added positions, “leave of absence” for a semester and other reasons, but there are lots of jobs if you like kids!

  8. 100% Yes*

    This time last year I was job hunting during the holidays because it was the only time I had off – within *minutes* of submitting my application into the company’s online system, I had a call from the company recruiter about my resume. By New Year’s Eve, I had 4 interviews lined up for the first week of January.

    Long story short, I’m now working at a much better company. My younger sister is now job hunting and I gave her the same advice – keep applying during the holidays! You stand a much better chance since there’s fewer applicants.

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