Here’s something I often hear from job hunters: I’m going to take time off from my search.
Here’s what I usually say: Bad idea.
During the recession, when employers weren’t hiring, a job-hunt vacation may have made sense, if only to give respite from the mental agony of continued rejections.
But the job market is better. More jobs are available. Granted, they may not pay what you want or have the quality level you had before. But hiring signs are posted, and anything might be better than nothing, depending on your circumstances.
Put those negatives aside, though, and assume you’re able and actively looking for a “good” job. Please don’t fall into the trap of assuming that yearend is a bad time to pursue your job hunt.
The holidays are no excuse to stop looking. In many organizations, the 2015 hiring process is active and there are approved openings to fill, starting the first of the year. You’ll lose out if your application isn’t in hand.
Note, too, that many fellow job hunters are taking December off. Get ahead of the sparser competition by going after what you want now.
It’s true that end-of-the-year vacations bring some hiring activity to a standstill as executives and managers in the hiring pipeline take time off. You may not get quick turn-around responses. But at least your application will be in the pile for consideration.
Although much of the seasonal hiring — by businesses that ramp up for holiday sales and transportation traffic — has been done already, there will continue to be temporary help needs well into the new year. Get your foot in the organization’s door as a holiday temp, show ’em what you’re worth, and doors may open.
The holidays also are good for expanding your social network. Remember: Personal contact is the gold key to getting hired. Holiday parties, school performances, church services, and volunteering for social service projects are all ways to meet new people or have conversations with old friends.
One of your casual holiday contacts may know someone who needs you. But you won’t find out unless you polish your 30-second response to the inevitable questions: How are you? or What do you do?
Be ready with a good answer. “I’m fine, but I’m between jobs right now and would love to get back doing (fill in your blank concisely and clearly so that others understand). If you happen to know someone I should talk to, I’d appreciate your tip.”
Be upbeat and classy. Don’t put the other person on the spot with a plea for direct help. Don’t ask them, at least not over the appetizer table, to make a contact for you. But if they act appropriately interested or relevant, you can hand them your business card on the way out the door.
The great truth of job hunting is that people like to hire and work with people they like. Every holiday encounter adds a chance to put your charming self in front of others.