If you’re a millennial, job searching – no matter what time of the year – can be a long, grueling process, with prospects looking only somewhat promising. But when it comes to job searching during the holidays, the generational consensus is that this is one of the worst times to try to land a position.
While in some industries, this may be true, the good news is that holiday job searching is not as hopeless as it sounds. Industries that operate on a yearly budget will have positions waiting until the New Year at the earliest. But this means that candidates who are already networking among such organizations will be first to be considered come January.
In fact, hiring prospects over this year are looking better than worse. For 2016, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported over the last 12 months (ending in September) hires totaled 62.7 million with a net employment gain of 2.6 million. As for government, with the presidential transition underway, the new administration is hiring across all departments and agencies.
Additionally, applying for jobs during the holidays when many are out of the office may actually give you a slight advantage. One reason is because competition among candidates is at its lowest. Because there is a commonly held belief that companies do not hire at the end of the year, many candidates write off job searching until January. This results in a drop in the competition for the opportunities that need to be hired before year-end.
So how can you best make use of this quiet time during the holidays to land a job? Here are 5 things you can do:
- Use the holiday get togethers to find job leads. Holiday parties are not just for ugly sweaters and binging on eggnog. When you’re with family and friends – the people who have your best interests at heart – allow them to assist you in uncovering potential job leads. Be honest about how your job search is going and what kinds of opportunities you’re seeking. You’d be surprised at the leads they could uncover for you.
- Get out and volunteer. There’s no better time than during the holidays to be selfless and volunteer. Many organizations need help during this busy season. While giving up time you could be spending job-hunting may seem counter-productive, the contacts you meet while volunteering your time and skills could actually lead to new and unexpected job leads. Volunteering can even give you a foot in the door at your dream organization with a good cause.
- Attend all professional holiday events. Get ready to hit the holiday parties. This is a chance for you to network like never before. While office parties and other events are typically not for work-related issues, people are generally in a good mood, which makes this time the perfect time to grow your network of contacts. Bring along your networking cards, copies of your resume and have your personal brand statement ready to go.
- Be prepared to be patient. Hiring processes often move slowly at this time of year, especially if key decision-makers are out on vacation. That means employers may take longer to get back to you or need to wait for someone to return from vacation before a hiring decision is made. Be sure to politely follow up after an interview to reiterate your interest. Just don’t be discouraged if you don’t hear back right away.
- Send out holiday cards. Spread the holiday cheer and promote yourself in the job market with some tasteful holiday cards. Use these as a way to follow up with recruiters and hiring managers as well as reconnect with more distant network contacts (i.e. former bosses, co-workers, etc). Include a short hand-written (personalized) note along with your networking card. Be sure to remain inclusive and send holiday cards and not just Christmas cards.
There are many reasons to make the season bright. Landing a job can certainly be one of them. If you have tips for job searching during the holidays, feel free to share in the comments below!
To read more about millennials, check out our First 5 series.