Work & Purpose

8 Reasons to Ramp Up a Job Search at the Holidays

Don't twiddle your thumbs before the hiring rush in January

(This article appeared previously on AOLJobs.com.) 

“No one gets a job around the holidays. It's a good time to take a break and relax until things ramp up in the new year.” Are you hearing this advice, or convincing yourself it's true? If so, you could be missing out on an amazing career or job opportunity.
In fact, the holiday season can be the best time to look for a job. It is a big mistake to take a break now. Finish the year strong! Here are eight reasons to ramp up your job search at this time of year:
1. Organizations may suddenly realize they have money to spend before year-end. Wouldn't it be nice to suddenly discover money you didn't know you had? That happens more often than you think at large companies. They realize at the 11th hour that they have enough in the budget to fill extra positions, but they need to get the people in seats before the end of the year or the money will disappear. If you stop looking for a job or get lackadaisical about checking emails, you may lose an opportunity and never even know it.

(MORE: Timely Tips to Find Work or Keep a Job)

2. Your competition may be taking a break. The myth that December isn't a good time to find jobs is strongly engrained in our psyches. As a result, the competition is a little less fierce. When people are on vacation, they may not answer a recruiter or hiring manager's call in a timely way, which could mean you have an opportunity to impress your next boss on the phone before your otherwise more qualified colleague stops to check email.
3. You want to be prepared and get ahead. Anyone in the careers industry, including resumé writers and job search strategists, will tell you January is typically a very busy time, because that's when many people try to fulfill their New Year's resolutions that involve getting out of jobs they hate. Don't sit back and wait to re-enter the pool with everyone else! Get ahead of the crowd. At the very least, use this time to prepare materials to help you land a job, even if the calls don't come until January.

(MORE: 8 Great Apps to Help Land a Job)

4. People leave jobs after they receive bonuses. Some companies give big bonuses at this time of year, and employees who were waiting for those big checks to clear before giving notice will begin to announce their intention to leave — or, in some cases, just walk out the door. When you make yourself available, you will keep yourself open to potential opportunities that would otherwise pass you by.
5. When people take vacations, you may be able to swoop in. Have you ever been in the situation where a lot of co-workers were off for the holidays and a big project came walking in the door? It's not unusual for companies to find themselves in need of some contract help at this time of year to get their work done. When the regulars are off vacationing and decking the halls, you have an opportunity to audition for a role in the company and to enhance your resume and credentials, even if you know the regular employee is coming back. If you are impressive enough, the organization may find a place for you.

(MORE: 8 Rules for Getting Hired Today)

6. Recruiters and hiring managers appreciate quick responses. No doubt, it can be more challenging to connect with the best candidates at this time of year. When recruiters are in a hurry or hiring managers have an urgent need, the fact that you get right back to them during a holiday period will make you stand out and give a good impression. There aren't a lot of other times during the year when just being prompt makes such a difference. When you communicate well and quickly, you have an advantage.
7. Improved networking opportunities. The best people to network with you are the people closest to you and their friends. If nothing else, be sure to get out of the house and accept all of those holiday party invitations. Plan ahead to make the most of these social events by finding out who will be there. Avoid awkward networking moments: check potential contacts out on LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+ and Twitter and rehearse what you may want to say if you see them. Bring your business or “contact” cards with you and be sure to ask for a follow-up meeting with anyone who could be a great contact for you. Don't forget to use social media to impress friends, new contacts and recruiters. 
8. This is a great time to authentically reach out to your neglected network. When is the last time you mailed a note to a friend or contact? Have you switched from mailed cards to quickly typed up email greetings or Facebook notes? While it's best to touch base with your network throughout the year, now is arguably the time when you can feel comfortable writing a note to someone who hasn't heard one word from you all year long. Don't use a holiday greeting card to ask for job contacts, but do use them as opportunities to re-open doors that you haven't knocked on. For example, “It's been so long since we connected … I'd love to touch base in person to talk about XYZ.”
If you mail out your cards early enough, you may benefit from looser schedules around the holiday season and land a meeting you wouldn't otherwise get. If you can finesse a reason for one of your contacts to meet with you, when opportunities come up early in the year, you will be top-of-mind.

Miriam Salpeter is a job search and social media consultant, career coach, author, speaker, resume writer and owner of Keppie Careers. She is author of Social Networking for Business Success, Social Networking for Career Success and 100 Conversations for Career Success. 

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