Don't buy into the myth that companies shut down their hiring procedures between Thanksgiving and the middle of January. While you might assume that corporate America is too busy with its holiday parties to pay any mind to job applicants, it's actually during this time that hiring is going strong, since many companies have their freshly released budgets in hand, plus money left over from last year's budget, and can create or hire for jobs. In addition, Susan M. Heathfield, About.com's guide to human resources, says, "During this holiday job-searching season, you enjoy reduced competition for jobs."
While everyone else is holding onto their resumes until mid-January, yours can get into the hands of hiring managers at your dream job. They are in the office now. Holiday vacations happen a few months from now, for most upper-level hiring managers.
This time of year is also when companies are creating their goal lists and revenue targets for the coming year, and they're looking for qualified candidates with special skill sets who can help them achieve their objectives -- and please their shareholders, in the case of larger companies. Smaller businesses hire now as well, and both mega-corporations and small businesses do a lot of interviewing during the end of the year and the start of the new year.
In-the-know job seekers enjoy advantages when they submit their resumes now, and many forego winter vacations in order to be available for that initial phone interview that may happen without warning, or go into the company for a scheduled sit-down interview. So if you're job seeking, keep that winter holiday "window" open in your schedule. It would be a shame to miss out on the interview of a lifetime because you have non-refundable vacation reservations. Companies won't wait for you. There are too many other applicants out there.
Here are some additional holiday season job-seeking tips:
--Attend networking events. You'll find plenty listed for this time of the year, and many are not packed due to others' travel and holiday schedules, so you'll get more face time with serious networkers and influential people who may be in a position to hire you, or make introductions to people they know in your field or at your desired company.
--Heathfield suggests sending a business holiday card, with your business card, to hiring managers at companies where you've recently interviewed. Even if you didn't get the job you interviewed for, it's smart to get back on their radar for any new positions opening up for which you're well-qualified. Just be sure to send a corporate-style holiday card, not one with photos of your kids on Santa's lap. A professional appearance in this card is essential.
--At holiday gatherings with families and friends, don't be shy about telling everyone about the kind of job you're looking for. Personal connections are often the top way that people find jobs now, and you never know who has a friend in HR at your dream corporation, or who knows someone who knows someone working at the company. Just keep your request short and sweet, and don't be too obvious about working the room. You don't want to come off as obnoxious, desperate or only at a family party to get something for yourself.
--Create a daily schedule for looking online for jobs. Check the major job posting boards and the websites for the companies you'd like to work for. Some companies don't submit their open positions to the major job search boards, but rather keep them on their own sites.
--Maintain your LinkedIn profile. Hiring managers will look you up and review your "recommendations" there. It's considered a red flag if you have no recommendations from colleagues on your page, so now's the time to reach out to former managers and reputable colleagues with requests for recommendation postings to that site. While you're on LinkedIn, search for HR or hiring managers at the companies you have on your wish list, to see whether you have any mutual connections who can make introductions for you. Online networking actually picks up during the winter holidays, as more people make that New Year's resolution to pursue a new job.
--Bring your business cards to holiday parties, community events and charitable events, as well. Get personal business cards made up inexpensively at VistaPrint.com or other business card creations sites, using coupons and special offers that may make a large percentage of your cards free. Always have them on hand, because you never know when you'll strike up a conversation with a stranger at an event who turns out to be a serendipitous connection.
--Update your resume and portfolio now, while you're waiting for that interview-scheduling phone call, so you're ready to go, and your body of work is well-organized, well-written and polished.