It’s as reliable as snow in Minnesota: the job market slows down in December. As a result, it can be an extremely frustrating time of year for those seeking employment. Job seekers often tell me they have very low expectations of getting hired at all in December.
As a recruiter in the IT consulting industry, I would argue that the reality is that the number of new jobs opening slows only slightly over preceding months. However, since more clients are taking time off for the holidays, the interview process often slows to a crawl. Candidates may interview over several weeks rather than one week and wait for final decisions until late in December or sometimes even early January. And that is frustrating to all of us involved in getting someone hired.
I tell candidates that to have an effective job search you need to focus on what you can control instead of factors that are out of your control – aka, clients moving slower to make decisions. Heading into December, here are the five things you can do to increase your chances of getting hired before year end:
Don’t Stop Looking:
It’s easy to put your job search on the back burner during the holidays. Every day seems to be filled with holiday parties, decorating, gift shopping, etc. The beautiful trade off about looking for a job in December is that there is less competition because so many job seekers don’t have time to look! Make your job search a daily priority; set a weekly goal of how many jobs to apply to or networking calls to make. Keep your resume in front of recruiters and your name will pop up when that right job opens.
Get Your Resume Ready!
Even if you don’t plan to start a new job until the new year, keep in mind it takes 2-4+ weeks from the time you apply to the time you receive an offer. Spend December updating your resume, gathering recommendations on your LinkedIn profile and getting a feel for what jobs are even out there by setting up an Indeed.com search. Ask a trusted colleague or recruiter to review your resume and suggest edits. For consulting, clients are often reviewing the first batch of resumes within 24-48 hours. You want to be prepared with a solid resume so you can submit your resume quickly to be considered in that first round.
Use the Holidays as an Excuse to Network:
If networking is not easy for you – as for many of us, then the holidays are the best time of the year for you! Use the holidays as your reason for calling up an old colleague to let them know you are in the market for a new job. Personalize a LinkedIn invite to 5 new people at a company you’re interested in working for and include a holiday greeting or wish for successful year end to their business. By having a reason to connect (or reconnect) with someone, you will increase your professional network to help when that perfect job opens at their company.
Take Advantage of Holiday Sales:
I know, it sounds odd to get shopping advice from a recruiter! Take advantage of holiday sales to freshen up your wardrobe with a new suit, tie, or fashionable scarf. Bring your interview wardrobe to the dry cleaners so you are ready to go if a client calls and asks if you can interview tomorrow (this happens more often than you think.)
Make Time for Interviews:
Last year, I had a candidate interview for a job the day after Christmas. She was offered the job the same day and was recently hired on as a full-time employee. Don’t expect that every client is closed or not hiring during the holidays. Keep in mind clients celebrate different holidays so they could be working on a day most others are out. Find time throughout December to make yourself available as well. We have many candidates, for example, who are on vacation but make themselves available for a 30 min. phone interview if needed. A little flexibility goes a long ways with a hiring manager and could make the difference between them hiring you over another candidate in a close race.
Although it requires some planning ahead and conscientious effort, landing a new role in December is possible.
I’d love to hear about your holiday job search experiences.
Have you received a job offer during the holiday season? What tips do you have to share?