Between holiday vacations, company closures and snow days, hiring managers are still seeking qualified candidates to fill positions and looking to network with those on the job hunt.
Even if you're already balancing shopping and entertaining, here are a few reasons why now is a terrific time to activate your job search.
Qualified candidates stand out. Depending on the company and the amount of time job seekers have on their hands, there can be an influx or decrease in job openings and applications. Still, Christine Assaf, human resources professional and founder of the careers blog hrtact.com, says you shouldn't waste available time. "Gaining experience in networking and interviewing is always a plus when job seeking, so therefore don't quit the search during the season because you may miss an opportunity," she says.
According to Nancy H. Segal, owner of career coaching and HR consulting firm Solutions for the Workplace, LLC, "holiday hires are not just limited to seasonal hires. For some employers, there are less distractions during the holiday period so that they are more able to focus on assessing candidates," she wrote in an email.
However, Assaf says there's usually a decrease in hiring during the holiday season. "Businesses are trying to hit their final budget at the end of the year and sometimes hold off on hiring until after the new year," she explains.
As Segal points out, continuing the job search during the holidays shows that you're interested, and hiring managers have time to focus on you. "You may get to see people who normally would not have time to talk to you," she writes. Keep in mind that because the season is filled with events, vacations and company holidays, a hiring process that would usually take a few weeks might take longer. Segal advises job searchers to regularly check their emails and voicemails for communication from potential employers. "Respond in a timely manner," she writes. "You do not want a potential employer to think you are ignoring their efforts to contact you." Another tip: Abstain from using holiday music on your outgoing voicemail message. Doing so may sound unprofessional, Segal writes.
You can add value to a potential employer's bottom line. Hiring managers can be too distracted by holiday events, vacation time and personal obligations to even look at applications and résumés during the holidays, but they could be planning to hire in 2014. Many companies have goals for the new year that can't be fulfilled without new hires. Even if you're also busy with seasonal activities, you should make yourself available. "It is still a buyer's market, and there will be plenty of applicants who will be available. If a job seeker is out of town, they could offer a phone interview or, even better, a Skype or FaceTime interview," Segal writes.
Assaf adds that applicants should be truthful and upfront about holiday needs and respectful of potential employers' schedules. However, according to Segal, the holidays are "also a great time for informational interviewing – you can take people out for coffee, etc. – and since things tend to be quiet during this period, they may be able to give you more time and attention than normal."
Holiday networking can get your foot in a door that's not open yet. Use holiday schmoozing to your advantage. Holiday events are prime networking territory for applicants to meet people capable of hiring and in search of viable leads. Events may be held in your area by local and national professional organizations, private employers and even friends who can introduce and connect you. "Holiday networking events are a great way for job seekers to mix and mingle to find good contacts for potential jobs," Assaf says.
Sending out holiday cards can add a special touch. "A holiday card with a short handwritten note can be useful – the card should be of the 'happy holidays' variety rather than one that has pictures of the candidate's children or pets; nor should the card have religious overtones," Segal writes. She adds not to forget the do's of successful job seekers for the rest of the year: Present yourself professionally, consider what you say and to whom and don't become a nuisance.