Why you should strike while the iron’s cold
It’s December. HR departments are winding down. Job listings are rock-bottom and don’t pick up till January. Employees have just one thing on their mind – the Christmas break (OK – plus how to avoid sleazy Simon at the office party). Many are taking up their un-used holiday entitlement. Recruiting and wage budgets are all used up. This is the worst possible time to even think of job searching, so you might as well don your tasteless Christmas jumper, put your feet up in front of the fire and forget about seeking employment till January. Right?
No. On the contrary, December can be one of the most fruitful times to kick on with your job search. All you need to do is to cast aside those assumptions and think, plan and act … ahead of your competition.
Assumption 1 – HR is winding down
Far from it. many practices would love to have their new people in for onboarding and training before the festive break. When New Year comes around and everyone slopes reluctantly back into work, isn’t it good for employers to know that the new people are bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, trained-up and ready to go on day one?
Secondly – for many companies, not everyone is off work between Christmas Day and New year. Often, HR has to function – perhaps with a skeleton staff. There will always be someone in the office. These people will often have more time to check emails and answer phone calls. This can be a great opportunity to bring yourself to their notice. OK – don’t expect a flood of interview offers, but at least, you’ve made contact.
Thirdly – December can be the month when employees give in their notice. They wait for their Christmas bonus to land, before resigning. A great opportunity for you to put yourself at the head of the queue.
Assumption 2 – Department budgets are exhausted
Are you sure? As December comes around, calendar-year companies often enjoy greater clarity about their spend and their budgets. Now is the time when they find they have a little ‘wiggle room’ for an extra salary. What a great time to check out these companies’ job listings.
Assumption 3 – Few people bother to job hunt in December
Right! Which is where you need to be clever. The fact that so many of your competitors don’t bother to look for work during the holiday period is exactly why you should be looking. There’s no better opportunity for you to stand out. HR departments will be impressed to hear from an applicant who so clearly means business. Having fewer applications than normal to sift through, they’ll devote more time and attention to checking over your details and will be altogether more responsive.
Assumption 4 – Everyone’s too busy to hear from you around Christmas
Are you certain about that? How about on a personal level? What about a touch of pre-Christmas networking? Catching up with old buddies you haven’t seen for a while. There’s nothing wrong with making a strategic list of potentially useful contacts, picking up the phone for a chat. I’m not suggesting you should be cynically using former acquaintances for your own ends. It’s a good idea, simply for your own ‘social health’, to revive old friendships. But, it’s perfectly natural that, in the course of conversation, that you would mention that you’re on the look out for a new job. You never know what might turn up.
Don’t forget really close friends and family. Over Christmas and New Year, you’ll be meeting up with them. Relax. Enjoy their company. But, is there any harm in dropping into the conversation where you’re at? Uncle Dave’s neighbour may have just the opening you’re looking for. You never know.
If not now, when?
Maybe it was a month or two back that you set your job search in motion. Don’t give yourself an excuse to ease up during December. You could lose track of your progress and connections. Stay focused, consistent and diligent throughout Christmas. When January comes around, you won’t feel as though you’re starting from scratch.
So, the message is this. Don’t let misconceptions about the recruiting scene drag down your morale and motivation. Keep buzzing. Sure – make the most of Christmas. Enjoy it to the max. But – keep your focus and your confidence, and you never know … in January, you might not just be raising your glass to a brand new year. You could be toasting your brand new job.
And your new employers? They’ll be raising a glass to you for giving them the ultimate Christmas gift – your skills and commitment as their brand-new employee.
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