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Candidate Help & Advice

Suspend Job Search During Holidays? No!

Job Search Holiday photo from ShutterstockA question I’m often asked by job seekers is whether or not they should continue a job search during the holiday season. The conventional wisdom seems to be that, during this time of the year, beginning with Thanksgiving Day and running through New Year’s Day, most hiring professionals are so pre-occupied with family celebrations and company/business festivities that it usually is just a waste of time to continue a job search.

Don’t you believe it because it isn’t necessarily true!

I liken this situation to the stock market. When is a good time to invest in the market? When everybody else is getting out of the market! The same can be true when it comes to a job search: The best time to ramp up your job search activity may be when most other job seekers are curtailing, or at least severely limiting, their job search activities.

While it is certainly true that many hiring company employees take vacation during the holiday season, it is equally true that most of these employees tend to be gatekeepers and others in administrative positions. Typically, those men and women at the higher, executive levels tend to remain at the helm during the holiday season. And, just coincidentally, it is these very same men and women who are usually the hiring decision-makers! It is these same men and women who are constantly on the lookout for top-tier talent to add to their companies’ employee rolls.

What can this situation mean for the tenacious, creative job seeker? Let me briefly relate the plot of a classic movie to illustrate this point.

Kramer vs. Kramer: A Holiday Job Search on Steroids

At least some of you may remember the classic movie Kramer vs. Kramer (1979), starring Dustin Hoffman and Meryl Streep as Ted and Joanna Kramer. On the same day Ted, a hard-charging Manhattan advertising executive, lands the biggest account of his career, Joanna informs him that she is leaving him and their young son. Forced to raise his son alone, Ted soon loses his job because all of his time and energy is, by necessity, focused on raising his son, not on doing his job.

Joanna later returns and seeks custody of their son because she contends that Ted, after losing his high-paying job and forced to take a much lower-paying one, is financially unable to properly raise the child.

One of the plot segments that has always stuck in my mind focuses on Ted’s frenzied job search, which occurred right in the midst of the holiday season. Everywhere he goes he is met with dismissal and/or rejection because everyone he encounters is in a festive mood, not a hiring mood. Out of frustration, Ted finally crashes a Christmas party at one of the large firms in the city and confronts a senior executive.

“Hey, it’s the holidays,” the exasperated executive tells Ted. “Come back after the first of the year.”

Hardly dissuaded, Ted continues pressing the executive and insists that he at least take a look at some of his work, samples of which he has with him. The executive is so impressed with Ted’s work that he hires him.

Now, I am NOT suggesting that you start crashing hiring company parties during the holiday season while on your job search! However, it can pay you to take a cue from the tenacity and sheer gutsiness Ted demonstrated during his holiday job search. He knew he had something of significant value to offer an employer and was not going to be put off simply because it wasn’t the “right” time of the year to be searching for a new job. You shouldn’t be either!

Most Businesses 365-Days-a-Year Operations

Virtually all businesses today, regardless of the market segment or company size, are 365-days-a-year enterprises. And that’s particularly true when it comes to global market leaders. Most simply cannot afford to be anything but that, if they want to stay at the top of the heap (and they do!). That means most companies are continually on the lookout for top-notch talent. The fact that they may discover or encounter such talent during the holiday season quite often is nothing more than just coincidental.

So, my advice to job seekers has always been, and continues to be, that they should indeed continue their job search activities during the holiday season. The entire process involved in searching for, and then landing, a new job in today’s still highly competitive job market can prove to be a lengthy one. Taking “time off” from the job search during the holiday season usually results in just one thing: Further increasing the time it can take to ultimately land a great new job.

Do take the time to enjoy the holidays with family, friends and business associates, but also make sure you keep your head (and your hand!) in the game by continuing to do the “right” things during your job search, even though (according to some people) it may not be the “right” time to be looking for a new job.


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