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Yes, the holidays can be a great time to find a new job!

By Joe Hodowanes

Order the turkey. Hang wreaths. Buy presents. Energize your job search – what?!? Energize your job search!

Unfortunately, some job search myths are so appealing that we accept them without really questioning their validity. For instance, the notion that the holiday period between Thanksgiving and New Year’s is not a good time to conduct a job search.

These myths are a detriment to the many job seekers who believe them. In fact, calls I have made to hiring executives confirm that the holiday period is one of the best times to look for a job. The statistics show that a large number of people get jobs in January. One hiring manager recently told me that many initial contacts are made during the holiday period.

Many of us believe that no one is around during the holidays, but it is just not so. Yes, many people take vacation leave at the end of the year. However, few are gone for the entire holiday period.

Access to decision makers actually improves during the month of December. Those at work are often more available, have fewer meetings and may answer their own phones – and you know how great that is! Getting through to people – past the gatekeepers or through voice mail – is half the battle.

People love to talk about how slow things are in December. But savvy job seekers should view this as a plus. During the period between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, many inexperienced or less motivated executives drop out of the market for various reasons. This means less competition! Those who step up their activity in December are more likely to gain the competitive advantage.

Making contact with decision makers and human resources folks in December places job seekers several steps ahead of others. This will be a significant factor during the month of January, historically noted as one of the busiest hiring months when competition soars to all time highs.

Job seekers have repeatedly said to me, “I hate to bother people during the holidays.” One executive told me recently, “They have too many other things to do. The last thing they want to do is hear from me.” This simply is not true.

Many job seekers underestimate the effect of the holiday spirit. Actually, people are more receptive and willing to help others during the season of giving. The holiday period is one of the best opportunities that you will find for networking and making contacts. Believe it or not, people are much more likely to want to help!

So what benefit is this for you? The holiday period between Thanksgiving and New Year’s may be one of the best times to conduct a job search. Here are five solid reasons: (1) less competition, (2) greater access to decision makers, (3) finalized budgets for next year, (4) the giving season, and (5) the January hiring rush.

Yes, I agree that being out of work during the holiday season can be especially difficult for job seekers. Sometimes it feels as if everyone else is working, shopping for gifts and attending rounds of parties. It’s easy for job seekers to feel left out and to withdraw until the new year to restart their job-search campaigns. However, you can take some very constructive and positive steps to make this time productive and rewarding:

  • Stay connected and involved. Get involved in social engagements. Holiday parties offer a low-key way to maximize networking opportunities in an informal social context. There are cost-effective, inexpensive ways of celebrating. You might host a modest holiday gathering as a nice way to say “thank you” to the people who have helped you in your job search.

  • Maintain your perspective. This is a temporary situation. There will be another holiday season – and another. Your current situation will pass, and you will have survived and learned from it.

  • Continue to become an expert in subjects related to your industry. Stay current by reading all of your industry trade and professional publications. Use this time of year to identify upcoming industry conferences and seminars where you can continue to enhance your industry knowledge while networking with colleagues.

  • Take a break. Take a one-day breather from the seriousness of your job search. Do something you really enjoy. Go to the movies or a favorite park, read a book or exercise. Be good to yourself!

  • Manage your expectations. If people seem to ignore you or sometimes make unhelpful comments, remember that they may want to help but don’t know how to go about it. Don’t set your expectations too high for this time of year. If you feel totally lost without a job to go to, you might even seek part-time seasonal work.

  • Maintain your sense of humor. Being out of work doesn’t mean you can’t laugh. Humor is a basic and effective stress reliever. Escape with a humorous movie or book. Don’t overlook the humor of everyday life. Humor adds energy and light to your life and affects how others (including potential employers) view you.

  • Give the gift of time. Now that you have a chance, do things you didn’t have time to do when you were working. Go shopping with your children or other family members. Go visit an older relative. This is a good time to help out a friend or family member who may be overburdened by the added demands of the holiday season. Remember, you may never have a chance like this again.

  • Help others. Get outside of yourself, and do something special for someone else. Your efforts don’t have to be limited to close friends and family. The holiday season is a terrific time of year to count your own blessings, and we all have them, employed or not. Do some volunteer work. Shelters for the homeless, hospitals and other institutions need all the help they can get during this busy time of the year. Anything you can do will be greatly appreciated.

People do get hired during the holidays. I can recall six clients who accepted new positions last year during the month of December. Most of all, I want you to know there is much you can do for yourself to make this an enjoyable holiday season and to greet the new year with hope and optimism.

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Guest columnist Joe Hodowanes MPA, SPHR is Career Strategy Advisor and President of J.M. Wanes & Associates, Tampa, FL 33688. www.jmwanes.com - Email: jmwanes@jmwanes.com.

This article is reprinted with permission.

    Wednesday, October 24, 2007 © CPAmerica International    

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