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 to the contrary, December can be one of the best times to look for a job. Many employers are continuing hiring as normal, and some are scrambling to fill positions before the new year. What's more, you'll have less competition, 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 co-workers, past managers, friends, and other contacts, and re-establish 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.
Alison Green writes the popular Ask a Manager blog, where she dispenses advice on career, job search, and management issues. She's also the co-author of Managing to Change the World: The Nonprofit Manager's Guide to Getting Results, and former chief of staff of a successful nonprofit organization, where she oversaw day-to-day staff management, hiring, firing, and employee development.