It’s a good time to take a break from sending out endless resumes and cover letters, but it’s an ideal time to make use of your network.
A question I’m often asked is about applying to jobs over the holidays. Should candidates take a mental break? Are resumes even viewed? Does hiring slow down? The answer is this is an ideal time for job hunting, but not in the way you think.
Let’s first consider timing. Thanksgiving onwards in the US hiring traditionally slows down a bit in white collar industries. Organizations are wrapping up end of year projects, budgeting for the next year, evenings are busy with social activities. On top of this there’s a lot of vacation time and even personal days which makes scheduling harder–although it may have gotten slightly easier with people traveling home for the holidays but being able to work remotely. All this creates a time crunch. Unlike budgets which need to be spent before the year is over, companies generally don’t care about making a hire before December 31st. This isn’t to say companies don’t hire at all, of course. A legitimate and obvious worry is that resumes submitted, especially during the latter part of December, get buried in the inbox or ATS. I generally recommend not sending a resume during the latter half of December.
Psychologically job hunts are tiring. Whether it’s on top of your current job, or you’re unemployed and feeling exasperated you probably could use a break. Whatever your job search schedule, it’s ok to ease up at the end of December and take a vacation from your “job” of searching.
So, if we shouldn’t send resumes, and should take a mental break, why did you say “yes” to searching over the holidays?
Remember one of the most important tactics of a job hunt: networking. Not only doesn’t networking stop, but the holidays are an ideal time to do it. Holiday parties are certainly places where you can meet new people, as is travel. To be clear, you don’t want to meet someone and ask them thirty minutes into it if they know of any jobs for you any more than you’d ask this relative stranger for other favors. Networking is a long-term strategy, but you can start to grow your network and these new connections may be helpful in the coming weeks or months, and certainly in future years. Likewise, people you met years ago who are now in your network are ones who can help you today.
For the next few weeks stop sending resumes and start sending holiday greetings.
Speaking of those Auld Lang Syne old acquaintances, don’t let them be forgot. You should not call up someone you haven’t spoken to in years and say, “Hi, it’s been a while. I need a job; can you help me?” You very much should reach out to those folks and say, “Hi, it’s been a while. This holiday season I’m trying to reach back out to people I haven’t talked to in a while and will be better at keeping in touch going forward. How are you?” This won’t lead to a job on the spot but as the relationship warms back up it can lead to opportunities in the coming week or months. Obviously be sincere in restarting the relationship, and not just focused on the transactional nature of the job hunt. And with networks even if this person isn’t of help with this job hunt, she’ll be actively back in your network for future needs (and you in hers for her needs).
This even works on social media. When you message someone, you haven't talked to in a while, the algorithms take note. You’re more likely to see each other’s posts in the coming days and weeks. Now they might start to see your posts about job hunting and may chime in even without you mentioning it.
The holidays can be emotionally trying, even more so under the strain of a job hunt. It’s ok to take a break. But the one thing we should never stop doing is taking a break from networking. The very nature of the holidays is about spending time with friends and family. Lean into that and use it to strengthen connections and build new ones. Don’t do so thinking you say hi and the next question is about the job; do so for the sake of the relationship. The opportunity to open doors will come naturally over the coming week in the new year. For the next few weeks stop sending resumes and start sending holiday greetings.
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