Think the holidays are time for kicking back and relaxing? Not if you're looking for a job. In spite of what you may think, the holidays are a great time to look for a job, according to Ford R. Myers, career coach, speaker and author of "Get The Job You Want, Even When No One's Hiring," (John Wiley & Sons, 2009).
In fact, while the rest of the job-hunters are taking the holidays off to celebrate and recreate, you could be gaining a competitive advantage by putting your job search into high holiday gear.
"Many job-seekers don't realize how important it is to perform a search during these months," Myers said. "There is little to no competition. Companies are completing their budget planning for the next fiscal year, so it's a great time to get in front of hiring managers. And, many executives have to fill openings early in the year or they may lose the budget for that position."
"There really couldn't be a better time than November or December for a job search. Those in the position to hire are 'out of their normal environment' and more willing to talk about work in a more relaxed setting," said Myers.
Myers offers the following tips to help job-seekers make the most of the holiday job hunting season.
Get out and network
There are many social and community networking events in November and December, including charity fundraisers and holiday events. Most professional associations have a party for their December meetings, and those parties have a different spirit than the more formal presentations offered throughout the rest of the year.
"Do not bring a resume to these events," Myers cautioned. "Rather, create a simple, tasteful business card with your name, phone number and email address to give to people. A business card will leave a better impression than a resume at these events, which are more social in nature at this time of year."
There are many volunteer opportunities around the holidays. This is a good way to help other people, to feel good when you need a boost, to have a renewed sense of purpose during your search and to meet other professionals.
"I have a colleague who was starting a business who used the day after Thanksgiving to make both follow-up calls and cold calls," Myers said. "She found that whoever was at work that day was not only available for a conversation, but was grateful to speak to someone." Even if many people are away for the holidays, those who are at work may have more time to speak with you.
Send holiday cards
This is the time to send cards to everyone on your list, including search firms, human resource executives and hiring managers with whom you have spoken or met over the past year. Whether you choose to send paper cards or electronic cards, don't let these people forget you.
"When choosing a holiday card, pick a seasonal, nondenominational theme that works well with people of all religions. If you're using paper cards, put a return address on the card so the person can reach you. Don't write about your job search in the card. And, mail the cards early in December so yours will be received in time for people to invite you to their holiday get-togethers," added Myers.
Work the holiday
Pursue a temporary, part-time, or contract position. Volunteer or provide pro bono work. These tactics are especially useful during the holidays,
because there are so many short-term opportunities available. "It's a great way to earn some extra money, make new contacts, feel productive, and "get
your foot in the door," Myers said.