7 things to know about job searching during the holidays

If you’re looking for a job and wondering if it makes sense to continue your search during the holidays … it does. Here are seven tips for job searching this holiday season.

1. Don’t believe people who say that no one hires in December. While it’s true that some searches slow down or get put on hold, plenty of hiring still happens around the holidays. In fact, some hiring managers are scrambling to fill positions before the new year or want someone to start soon after January 1. There are plenty of searches still going on, with candidates being interviewed and offers being made.

2. You’ll have less competition. Because so many job seekers stop actively looking for work around the holidays, you’ll have less competition for the openings you find. In fact, some hiring managers report that job applications slow to a trickle around this time of year, and they have trouble finding suitable candidates for jobs that must be filled quickly.

3. You might need to 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 because often the vacation schedules of the people involved in the hiring process. You’ll have a leg up if you’re 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 from a trip on short notice if asked. (That said, don’t avoid making holidays plans just in case an interviewer calls. You could end up regretting that quickly.)

4. Be prepared to be patient. Hiring processes often move more slowly at this time of year, especially if key decision-makers are out on vacation. That means that employers might take longer to get back to you or need to wait for someone to return from vacation before a hiring decision can be finalized. You should 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; there’s generally no way to avoid that.

5. Realize that some rejection might come along with the mistletoe this year. If you job-search in December, it’s possible that you could get a rejection near Christmas – so don’t let it interfere with your holiday spirit! Rejections are a normal part of a job search, and it’s close to impossible to be searching in this market without racking up quite a few. Sure, no one wants a job rejection in their Christmas stocking, but resolve not to be thrown off by it if it happens to you.

6. If you get hired, you might not start until after the new year. While plenty of employers are making job offers this month, many of them are setting new hires’ start dates for after January 1. After all, with lots of staff members away on vacation, it can be hard to have someone new start when no one is around to train them. So if you get an offer this month, you might be able to enjoy a break over the holidays – with no more job search to worry about and no work to attend to until January!

7. You’ll likely be asked about your job search at holiday gatherings, so be prepared to make the most of the opportunity. In fact, it’s worth attending as many events as you can and making a point of mentioning your job search to people you talk with, because you can never predict who might have a useful lead for you. Or, if you desperately need a break from talking about your search, be ready to deflect questions and quickly turn the conversation to another topic!

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

{ 34 comments… read them below }

  1. Jean*

    Ditto the first two comments. Will check back later since I’m in the same situation as Deb: “head deep in job hunting!”

    1. Felicia*

      I am also “head deep” in job hunting:) I have one interview on Thursday, but i really want more

  2. Anonymous*

    I googled it and found it – change the word “to” to “for” in the link and it should work!

  3. Aly*

    This is great and reassuring. I was definitely worried that my chances of finding a job during the holiday seasons would be very slim, but this is great =)

  4. Elizabeth West*

    #1–Yes, companies do hire in December. I applied to my job in December. It took about a month from application to hire and I started on January 30. And I also was hired at Exjob that same month–my first day was December 19, 2005.

  5. MR*

    Yes as well to No. 1. I had an interview just this morning with the decision to come next week with the person starting the first full week of January.

    Not sure where the adage of ‘nobody hires in December’ comes from, but I hear it a lot and it’s one of those things that just needs to go away.

  6. Susan*

    Thanks for the motivation!

    I have a question that arose about 30 minutes ago. I found a job posting on a site that posts industry-related jobs in my area. It was posted Nov. 12. So I went to this specific company’s website, and noticed the job is not listed under “available positions,” which makes me question if it was already filled. I just had this internal dialogue with myself of “Maybe their website is what’s outdated. They probably didn’t fill it already with the busyness of the holidays” when I saw your update here.

    I’m never sure when this happens if I should “waste” my time with writing an individualized cover letter if it is, in fact, already filled. But it hardly seems appropriate to poke the HR manager and ask if it’s still open (seems like enough of those emails would get annoying). Is there a good guideline for how long after a job is posted that you should probably just consider it an “old” posting, or is it worth the gamble to just suck it up and spend 30 minutes on a cover letter?

    1. Amanda*

      If you feel meh about it and just trying to find whatever to apply for, I wouldn’t waste the time. But if you feel the job is a good fit, apply. There’s not much rhyme or reason to the job postings my organization posts–some are posted on the website, some are only posted on Idealist. Then some get filled quickly and some take months to get filled. Personally, when I got hired I applied a month after the posting. It was a temp job and I needed something permanent, but after a month of not getting anywhere with permanent jobs I figured what the heck.

      Also, if you’re a really strong candidate, you might sneak in even if they’re in the later staging of the hiring process. I’m pretty sure the reverse happened to me once. My references and background had been checked and I was waiting on an offer when a better-qualified latecomer blew me out of the water.

      1. Susan*

        Thanks Amanda!

        I think what you wrote made me realize my hesitation is that it’s a job I could see myself doing, but not necessarily a dream job. Now that I think about it, if I really wanted it, I probably would have just done the cover letter.

        Unrelated to that job, I applied for a different one this morning, and got a response back just now. They want to do an interview this week. So apparently people -are- hiring! (And yes, it was a very personalized, AAM-style cover letter so my thanks to the blog!)

  7. Gilby*

    Alison, what about job searching while you are in a temp job that has no real time to end? I was told it was seasonal/end of Dec. If it ends then fine, if they need me longer OK. My impression is it will last longer. The stuff I am doing is everyday year long things.
    (other areas are temp, cust serv reps for xmas)

    There is another lady there as well who has been temp for 6 months no sign of perm.

    So, I will finish out the ” season” as explained to me and stay as long as they need me. But I can’t wait for them to make a decision on my career.

    But how does this look on the resume and how do you explain it? Does it look funny if I put “Start Nov – still current” and have a potential company wonder if I am jumping ship to early into the temp job?

    On my resume, I do put down the name of the company with temp company name and then “seasonal work”.

    I want to stay for them if they want me longer. I don’t want to ” hope” they hire me perm and pass on other perm jobs.
    I don’t want to have my resume look flakey.

    Any suggestions?

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I’d put “(temporary)” or “(contract)” next to it on your resume, and you can explain in interviews that it’s a temporary position without a firm ending date. That’s not unusual.

  8. KT*

    I’ve been applying since the beginning of November. Haven’t heard a single thing back except one immediate rejection (less than 24 hrs of applying- they’re quick!) and one upcoming interview for a position that isn’t 100% ideal. Trying to keep the faith D:

    1. Jean*

      Don’t get discouraged yet. There are lots of us out there playing musical chairs with far fewer jobs than potential employees. Just keep going,and reading AAM, and being as calm and hopeful as possible. I’m in the same boat, trying to row upstream on the River of Uncertainty. Not always enjoyable but what choice do we have (besides the even more uncertain options of dropping out of the workforce or starting our own businesses)?

  9. Tara T.*

    Job hunters should not stop job hunting at any time of year. There are some careers that seem to have a slow-down in the number of ads in December, but job hunters need to keep the momentum going as much as possible. Some good ads might still show up.

  10. Amanda*

    I had three interviews the week before Thanksgiving–and two of those interviewers told me they had scheduled interviews with other candidates right up until the day before Thanksgiving. Haven’t had any since but still finding lots of jobs to apply for. My “strategy” is to apply hard up until Christmas and hope that the lighter competition works in my favor.

  11. ScaredyCat*

    If only I had seen this half a year earlier, it would’ve saved me some embarrassing rescheduling moments.

    I started job searching one week before Easter, and though my particular field is always hiring, I figured “hey, I probably won’t be getting an answer until a week AFTER the holidays”.
    Of course I got a call the next day, and I was utterly mortified having to schedule it two weeks later. Fortunately, they were very gracious about it, but I felt like the Earth would swallow me up…

  12. Erik*

    I’ve landed a couple of jobs around Thanksgiving – many companies are still hiring, and it’s nice to have less competition. They’re often trying very hard to fill req’s for next year.

  13. Jake*

    Hiring at my old company slows way down this time of year, but that is because of it being winter,not Christmas. Our work load quadruples in the summer so that is when we hire.

    That being said, it takes 3 months before a new employee is any use, so we really should be hiring now, but that is a totally different topic.

  14. voluptuousfire*

    Well, it’s definitely true that people do hire during the holidays. I interviewed for a job last week and was offered the position Friday. I start tomorrow!

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