Should You Job Search during the Holidays?

By: Nancy Ordman

The end of the calendar year brings with it so much stuff—shopping, parties, family obligations, holiday concerts, expenses planned and unplanned, maybe a case of flu or a major snowstorm—all of which can be stressful and not necessarily good stress. For those who are employed, all of this seasonal cheer comes on top of work.

For those who are unemployed and looking, postponing the job search might sound tempting. People who have jobs but are looking for a change might also find the idea of taking life easy for a few weeks beguiling. Taking a vacation is not necessarily a smart move. In at least one state (New York), recipients of unemployment compensation are required to apply for a given number of jobs each week and provide proof before they are eligible to receive their checks. Even without such an incentive, job seekers need to remember that employers still review resumes, interview and hire staff during the holidays. Companies that operate on a calendar year could be staffing up for the new year’s first quarter.

The end-of-year holidays offer job seekers a big advantage: people use this time to reconnect and not just with family and personal friends. Send greetings to former managers and colleagues, recruiters, and other contacts. Greetings can be physical cards or a note delivered via a networking site.

The job seekers who are not active during the holidays leave the field open for those who are not taking time off. This reduces the size of the candidate pool and thus competition.

Networking could be easier, too, since the holiday season brings with it lots of parties and other social occasions. Remember that anyone could be the person who leads to the next job. Rather than focusing directly on looking for a specific job, listen and gather information about the contact’s industry or company. Exchange business cards and follow up promptly.

Another idea for networking: volunteer work. Many community groups look for volunteers to help serve meals or deliver them. Beyond the obvious holiday-related volunteer opportunities, non-profits offer service opportunities ranging from mentorships to counting birds that come to backyard feeders. The VolunteerMatch website is a fast way to look for places to volunteer.

Several less-glamorous but equally necessary tasks need attention regardless of the season or the job seeker’s employment status. The Muse suggests five tasks to tend to.

  • Update and polish the basic resume so it will be ready to tweak.
  • Review job descriptions and take notes whether a particular job looks like the right fit.
  • List potential contacts—including new contacts gleaned through networking—and draft emails to send later.
  • Polish social media accounts, especially LinkedIn and Facebook.
  • Contact references, make sure addresses, phone numbers and email addresses are correct, and get approval to use them.

The most important point is to make some progress during the holidays, whether the progress comes as job interviews or a refreshed list of contacts. Then celebrate with a clear conscience.