partyBelieve it or not … The holiday season is prime for job hunting.

If you’re without a job or unhappy in your current one, it’s smart to gear up your search during the last month-and-a-half of the year, rather than get distracted or depressed by the holiday season.  People are in good spirits and socializing more frequently and both factors can be useful to the job hunter.

There are other reasons why you shouldn’t put your search on hold until after the first of the year:

  • While the number of Internet posts and help-wanted ads usually decrease over the holidays, those that do appear are often high priority jobs that employers need to fill quickly.  Since fewer people read and respond to posts and ads during this time, there is less competition than usual, which is to your advantage.
  • Employment agencies usually experience a decrease in the number of applicants who come to them at the end of the year.  That means you’re likely to get even more attention and time if you visit them.
  • Fewer people submit resumes directly to companies during the holiday period.  They wrongly assume their inquires will be lost in the Christmas email or snail mail or that employers simply aren’t hiring.  Neither is true.  In fact, a well-written-cover-letter and resume sent as an email attachment or by snail mail in a large flat envelope is likely to get more attention because volume is down.
  • And while more managers and personnel people take vacation time at the end of the year, that doesn’t mean they won’t consider a qualified candidate for a job they’re hoping to fill.  Since many companies’ fiscal years correspond to their calendar year, new budgets often mean additional money for staffing new positions.

In addition to using traditional job hunting resources, you should also make a point of going to parties and social events, especially ones at which you’re likely to meet new people who can be sources of job leads.  Don’t be afraid to let people know that you’re in the market for a new job.  Handing out resumes or pressing people for contacts or referrals isn’t a good idea because it puts them on the spot.

A much better approach is to find out what people whom you meet do and describe your own background and goals before you let them know you’re job hunting.  If you do it in a friendly and nonthreatening way, they’re likely to ask what you’re doing now.  That’s your chance to mention that you’re looking.  They may offer advice or the names of a person to contact.  If they don’t you can casually say “if you think of anyone I might talk to, I’d appreciate it,” and hand them your card.

If you meet someone who is in a position to give you advice, ask if you might arrange a brief meeting after the holidays or at a time when you’re less likely to be interrupted.  Should the right opportunity not present itself, drop the person you met an email or a note wishing them a happy holiday season and make your request in writing.  Be sure to follow up on any contact suggestions, and let the people who made them know you appreciate their help.

Making the effort to go after advertised jobs and letting as many people as possible know you’re in the market for a new position during the holidays will shorten your search.

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