Jobs

Don’t stop your job hunting just because of the holidays

Contrary to popular opinion, the holidays can be a great time to look.

Most people’s schedule slows down around Christmas, so it can be a good time to set up coffee dates. The Boston Globe

Many people are under the impression that hiring managers stop working over the holidays, so there’s no point in looking for a job. Not to mention, December’s also a time when – let’s be honest – it can be tempting to slack off, cue up the Netflix, and have a little too much spiked eggnog at the holiday office party.

But many human resources experts say that December can actually be a great time to look for a job. Here’s why.

Why December is a good time to dust off your resume

Busy people’s schedules tend to slow down in the days leading up to and after Christmas, so it can be a great time to finally set up that coffee date with someone you’d like to connect with, said Patricia Hunt Sinacole, CEO of HR consulting firm First Beacon Group LLC.

“You come across like a very motivated person if you use time around the holidays to connect with people and network,’’ Sinacole said. Even if someone is too busy (or on vacation) and can’t meet up in December, you can use this time to set a definitive date for the New Year, she added.

Another reason the holidays can be a great time to job-hunt? Expiring budgets.

Kim Littlefield, senior vice president of career management firm Keystone Partners, explained that many companies have hiring budgets that have to be used before January 1 or the money disappears. This can lead to a mad scramble to find talented workers in a job market without too many job seekers.

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“Even if they’re not using budget money, many companies will be planning for the New Year,’’ Littlefield said. A new year generally means a new budget. If you wait to apply for a position in the middle of January, you might be up against 10 candidates, whereas getting your resume in the door in December might place you up against just three people, she added.

All the holiday parties, cookie swaps, and other festive gatherings can also be a hidden boon for job seekers.

“Whether it’s a potluck event or a neighborhood party or even a volunteer role at a food pantry, I think there are opportunities where you might be standing next to someone with a role you’d want,’’ Sinacole said. Since it’s not a traditional networking event, you wouldn’t necessarily want to bring 155 copies of your resume, but you could ask someone to connect on LinkedIn.

As Littlefield mentioned, the holidays are also a more enjoyable time to network. “It’s less intimidating; there’s more holiday spirit and people are generally in good moods.’’

Getting hired by the New Year

If you’ve been convinced to start your job search, there are a variety of ways to set yourself apart from the pack. Here are some tips from the pros:

1. Check your LinkedIn account, and check it twice.

Sinacole recommended that job candidates take a day to make sure their LinkedIn profile is up to snuff. This means having a professional photo, zero typos, and adding in any relevant information or key words that might attract a certain employer, she said. Much of this goes for your resume, too.

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2. Follow-up.

Littlefield said sometimes she meets for coffee with job candidates and never hears from them again. This leaves a bad impression. “Follow up with people in your network and let them know how you’re doing,’’ she said. “Send a follow-up email that says you’re still job searching so when something comes up, they think of you first.’’

3. Leave the ugly sweater at home.

You’re not going to make a great impression on possible employers if you show up to every holiday event looking disheveled and unprofessional. Littlefield said it’s wiser to err on the side of overdressing and looking professional rather than too casual.

4. Master the elevator pitch.

If you’re planning on doing a little networking at a holiday party, make sure you know how to articulate the public story of why you’re looking for a job, and what you’re hoping to do next. This should take no more than 30 seconds, Littlefield said.

“Practice it till you’re comfortable saying it,’’ Littlefield suggested. “Let it flow. Leave yourself a voicemail to hear how you sound. People often won’t like it and will shorten it up to be more conversational.’’

5. Send out a holiday greeting.

Handwritten cards are a lost art, and receiving one can make even the biggest Grinch warm inside. Littlefield suggested sending one to people who went out of their way to help you professionally in the past year.

“If I get a nice note that says, ‘Wishing you well in the holiday season. I’ll follow up with you in January,’ you’ve prepared me to expect your reaching out, so I’m more prepared to take your call,’’ Littlefield added.

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