BY ERIN EWART
The holiday season is here, and every year around this time we get questions from our clients who are in career transition about what this means for them.
One of the biggest questions we get is whether any hiring happens this time of year, and the answer to that is a definite yes! But while hiring happens year round, it does tend to slow down around the holidays, and it can be discouraging to see fewer new jobs being posted and to get so many out of office replies to your networking outreach.
But that doesn’t mean you should take a time out from your job search during the holidays; that’s a mistake that will come back to bite you in January. Instead, think about how you can strategically use this time to position yourself for new opportunities.
To help you do that, here are eight tangible ways you can make progress on your job search during the holiday season, whether you’re actively searching or considering making a change in the new year.
If You’re Actively Job Searching
If you’re engaged in an active search, it’s important not to take your foot off the gas as we approach the end of the year. While new job postings do tend to slow down between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, hiring is always happening.
The hiring process may move more slowly due to vacations and end of year priorities, but if an organization has an open job posted they are typically going to try their best to close it out before the end of the year. And if they aren’t currently hiring, odds are good they will have new roles to post in the new year, so now is the time to be getting on their radar. Here are four ways you can keep your search moving forward:
1. Keep Up Your Networking Momentum: even as new job postings temporarily slow down, make sure to continue networking to set yourself up for new roles that will be posted after the holidays. This is a great time to ask your networking contacts about their organization’s strategy for next year, including growth and hiring plans. If you’re having those conversations now, you’ll be the first to know about jobs that are still being finalized, which is exactly where you want to be. Know that with people on vacation, it may take a little longer to get responses to your outreach and set up meetings, but don’t let that deter you – keep following up!
2. Continue Applying and Seek Out Short Term Work: for those jobs that are posted this time of year, it’s likely you will have less competition. Many job seekers take a break from searching during the holidays or plan to get started in January – but not you! You’ll be right there to jump on any new roles that come up. And keep in mind that many organizations have end of year deadlines they’re trying to meet, so there may be opportunities this time of year to do some short-term project work; this can be a great way to show an organization what you can do and get your foot in the door for full-time opportunities.
3. Share Your Gratitude: this is a great time of year to circle back with people you’ve met this year to thank them again for their time and let them know what you’ve done with the advice they gave you. People love to know that they have made a difference, and too often there is little or no follow up after networking conversations. Stand out from the crowd and send a quick note like this one to the people who have impacted you most this year, letting them know how much you appreciate what they shared with you. You can also use this as a chance to update them on your search and your plans for the new year, ensuring that you’ll be on the top of their mind as they hear of new opportunities.
4. Plan and Prepare: finally, if you find yourself with a little more downtime around the holidays, use it to prep for the busier hiring season ahead: reflect on what you’ve learned so far and update your job search plan and goals for the new year; touch up your LinkedIn and resume; update your target organization and networking lists; take an online training course or work on other professional development items to build your skills and make you an even more attractive candidate when hiring picks up again.
If You’re Considering A Move In the New Year
If you’re thinking about a career transition in the new year, plan to spend some time now preparing and planning. While you don’t necessarily have to dredge up that old resume (yet), there are some other things you’ll be uniquely positioned to do during time away from your usual routine:
1. Network in a New Way: Whether you’re traveling or staying local, you’ll likely be spending time during the holidays with people you don’t see every day. This is a great chance to make sure everyone knows that you’re in the market for something new, and what that new thing is. Don’t think Aunt Helen could possibly have any ideas or connections for you? Maybe not, but don’t be so sure – we’ve seen people find job leads in some of the most random ways possible, so you never know who might be able to help you out. And either way, she’ll be glad to know what you’re up to.
2. Get Feedback on Your Strengths: Getting clear on what you’re best at is a critical foundation for any career transition. Those who know you best (who are probably the same people you’ll be seeing over the holidays), usually have the clearest read on your strengths. And one of the best indicators of your true talents is that they show up when you’re very young. So ask your family and friends who’ve known you the longest what they think you’re best at, and what you loved to do growing up. Listen to the examples they share and the words they use to describe you, and use these insights to think about the types of roles and organizations that would be the best fit for you. Looking for more? Try taking an online assessment like StrengthsFinder to get additional data about your strengths.
3. Read and Reflect: Holiday travel often means hours on trains, planes, buses or even lounging on the couch if you’re lucky. What better time to catch up on some career-related reading? Pack that book you’ve been meaning to read for months (check out our suggestions if you need ideas) or gather those articles you’ve been bookmarking to read “sometime” and get caught up on what’s happening in your current or future industry. And pay attention to how you choose to spend your time during this break from routine: are you the head organizer in the kitchen, directing everyone else on what to do? Do you gravitate toward spending time with the kids? Do you work on craft projects, or have outdoor adventures? Take note of what you choose to do and reflect on why that is and how it might translate to a new job or work environment.
4. Build Your Portfolio: One of the most important aspects of a job search is being able to summarize your previous accomplishments. In the busyness of the day to day we often miss opportunities to document our achievements, so taking a few minutes during a break to do this can be incredibly helpful. Even if you never show it to anyone else, consider building yourself an online or paper portfolio of project examples, kudos emails and feedback, performance reviews, and other tangible examples of the great work you’ve done. Not only will this help you when it comes time to update your resume and prepare for interviews, it will build your confidence as you remind yourself of all the successes you’ve had in previous roles.
Finally, no matter where you are in the career transition process, remember that taking time to relax and recharge is important so that you’ll have the energy to pursue your goals – so make sure you take time to do that too. Enjoy, and happy holidays!