Get hired during the holidays

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Senioritis is the classic mental vacation many high schoolers take as graduation nears. Can you blame them? In the spring semester – and sometimes even in the fall semester – students are exhausted. They’ve been in school for 13 years. They’ve taken standardized tests. They’ve studied for exams. Freedom is weeks away. Soon they won’t have to sit in a classroom for eight hours a day. In their minds, school is already out.

For job seekers, something similar often happens as the year ends. Let’s call it holiday burnout. After months searching for a job, you get tired of the process. Browsing job postings, networking, drafting cover letters, customizing your résumé, interviewing – over and over and over again. You get burned out, and before Thanksgiving arrives you just want to stop and rest. Wisdom says that no one’s hiring in the last month or two of the year anyway and that you should start applying again after the new year, when everyone’s back from vacation and ready to hire again.

Let’s not forget that the holidays themselves can be a pain: visiting family, preparing large meals, parties, shopping. Your calendar can get too full to search.

Don’t get caught in this trap, says career consultant and author Jean Baur. Holiday burnout might have you frustrated with the process, but it’s also the perfect time to stand out from other job seekers. You’re not the only person who wants to take a rest from the grind of looking for a job.

“If you’re out there working the job market when others aren’t, you’ve got an advantage. You have less competition. You’ll stand out,” Baur says. “[It’s] the people who are using winter holiday parties to network who will be working sooner than those who give up and stay home to bake cookies. Even if the job itself doesn’t start until after the holidays, those who have given up will most likely not be the ones working when the season passes.”

Holiday burnout can take its toll on you. But remember that employers often begin new budgets after the first of the year. They’re ready to start spending, and that means they’re getting the footwork out of the way now. So you could interview and even receive an offer now. Even if you don’t, your name might be at the top of the pile of résumés when recruiters start making calls on January 2.

Baur’s book “Eliminated! Now What?: Finding Your Way from Job-Loss Crisis to Career Resilience” has some recommendations for what you should and shouldn’t do during the holiday season.

Baur says you should:

  • Let the holidays help you network
    From holiday cards to play dates to cocktail parties, the season is full of opportunities to interact with friends and family. Each conversation is a networking opportunity and a chance to let others know you’re still looking for a job.
  • Evaluate your job search tactics
    Look at what you’ve done and decide what is and isn’t working for you. Don’t assume anything, or as Baur says, don’t let hearsay determine your path. What have you done that shows you results? Do you know for a fact a certain company isn’t hiring right now? Do your own homework.
  • Keep an open mind
    “Tell yourself that you’ll keep an open mind about when jobs are found and will, at the very least, experiment during your job search so that you can discover what works and what doesn’t,” Baur says.

And Baur says you shouldn’t:

  • Shut down during the holidays
    Just because the common wisdom says no one’s hiring for the holidays, don’t believe it and check out of your job hunt. You’re wasting valuable time.
  • Give up
    Don’t ever think, “It’s never going to happen for me” and give up. Looking for a job is difficult, time consuming, stressful and unpredictable. The only way to be certain you’re not going to ever land a job is if you just give up.

Burnout is real and you don’t want to push yourself so hard that you’re miserable. Always take time to relax and stay calm during your job hunt. But don’t go on a complete hiatus during the last two months of the year. Between preparing a turkey and wrapping gifts, remember that your job search is an ongoing process and to look for any opportunity you have to promote your hunt.

As Baur says in her book, the holidays distract many job seekers from their searches, and that leaves many opportunities open for you to step in and get noticed.

Do you plan on searching for a job during the holidays? How will you balance your job search with the hectic schedule of the season?

38 Comments
  1. If not professional jobs, the holiday season opens up at least some part-time hourly jobs. Hopefully most people in need of extra money would appreciate this opportunity. I noticed today that Macy’s is hiring. I also know that Costco hired last year. These are relatively decent jobs. For those who are business oriented, and especially the jobless, Common People Services is also enabling a lot of new and free opportunities. Check out the list of new opportunities here (http://www.sharedmall.com/flyer.html). Hopefully you will find something that matches your skills and interest.

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      • I got hired the week of Thanksgiving and started the week after – i always thought no one would hire during the holidays but this was a VERY pleasant surprise – so if you’re still looking – DONT GIVE UP!!! I have applied since JANUARY and it happened for me at the most unexpected time of the year

  11. Yes, there are many of us on the brink of giving up because it’s just too hard to find work. Employers are too picky.

    Network? With whom? Most of the people I know have given me no leads or they’re looking themselves. Drop in on holiday parties? What parties? Most companies don’t do this anymore and not many of my friends do either.

    Yes, companies are hiring for sales or holiday help. Not much else. That’s reality.

    Am I burnt out? Pretty much, but I keep plugging at it despite constant rejection or just plain silence.

    Do I think I’ll find a job? Maybe eventually. The real question is – will it be the one I want or another piece of dead end dren.

  12. Senioritis in the article refers to high school kids; what about the 50+ variety? Is there a different tactic for the not-quite-30-anymore that most of these articles seem to be directed to?

  13. A lot of employers wants you to do application online…my dilma is getting overwhelmed of getting colleges calling instead of employers…I skip all the sale ads and there are to many online when you’re just wanting to do applications and no calls from employers…all sale ads are mostly scams is all I am getting…there’s too many overwhelming surveys of nonsense online for for job leads…or searches…omg…

    • I agree Melissa, 100%. I don’t trust on-line applications. It seems the worse this recession gets the more scams and on-line college ads pop-up when you are directed to fill out an online application.
      My favorite are the UPS driver helper ads that get you nowhere, or how about the “professional” resume re-writers (classic), and the job-hunt coaches for $150 sign-up fee. Its really bad when you see people asking sign-up fees from people with-out income incoming.

    • Try signing up with a temp agency or employment agency. I had been a stay at home mom for years and answered an ad that was placed by a temp agency. I was hired into a part-time position that morphed into full time and looks likely to morph into a permanent one. Don’t use the ones that require you to pay anything, there are plenty out there that require the employer to pay. Hang in there and just ignore the pop-up ads and college recruiting BS. Good luck!!

      • Melissa, I’m not trying to be unkind. But I think I have an idea as to why your online job search is not going as well as you might like.

        Punctuation is important. Spelling is important. Correct grammar is important.

        Out of these three important things, you missed three.

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  15. I am a white collar professional in my mid-fifties with over 30 years of experience. I have been unemployed for almost two years. No one will hire me because I am either to old, over qualified for most of the jobs out there, or they figure I will quit as soon as a better job offer comes my way.

    Even though I am quite capable of doing many things, and willing to take a job that is considerably less pay, I cannot get hired.

    Apparently honest hard working invdividuals do not figure into the equation anymore. Employers are looking for young and cheap. As for the employment agencies or temp agencies, forget it, they are a joke.

    The work I have managed to find has been short term through family and friend contacts.

    Reality is, I like so many have just plain given up on any serious job searching anymore. It is just not worth the frustration.

    • My daughter is young and would work cheap…relatively and she still can’t get hired. College grad with 2 yrs work experience and she’s not even getting a call for an interview.

    • James & Deidre’s comments are exactly correct. Age discrimmination has always been around despite “laws” against it. The only “law” companies have today is the bottom line. While understandable to stay in business, employers lose valueable chances to obtain great employees because they have the age stigma imbedded in their cement heads.

      While education and skills are important, at our age I don’t believe it’s a good idea going into debt to take courses unless it guarantees one a job. Nothing is guaranteed anymore. The last thing you want is to hit retirement age being in debt, let alone having enough money saved up to retire on, which is another sore subject for another time to discuss.

    • James,
      I am completely with you and in the same boat. Been unemployed since July 2008 due to a lay off. I am 55 with 30 yrs experience in my profession. Just two weeks ago I had a great phone interview and was a invited to a live interview. All indications seemed like I was well received. The job is almost identical to what I had done for 14 yrs before the lay off. I have applied with this company before and had been rejected several times, hired once for part time work (had to turn it down due to a family emergency) and know how they handle rejections and hiring. So far not a word, no rejection email, no phone call asking for more info or references. I called the one of the managers yesterday and left a message letting them know I am still interested and would like to know if the position was still open and had they made a decision. No call back yet.

      I am totally burned out. The few jobs I can find in my state in my area of expertise will pay considerably less than what I made in Calif. I have no network here.

      So now the search continues and will move back to Calif. if I have to in order to find work. It is an emotional roller coaster and after 2 yrs and 6 mos. it is easy to give up.

  16. Yeah so reality sucks, but I think the author just wanted to keep people motivated, yet all I see is a bunch of complaints on here. Stop whining! This seems like a good idea to me. I will continue to keep my A game up. Thanks for the advice!

    • Some people choose to retire after the holidays or before the new year (taxes…), so the job postings might be limited and unheralded – but keep an ear out, you never know.

    • I am also in the same position as James. 50+ age, white collar, 30 yrs working experience
      The advice is good, and it does make sense. I was sending resumes on Thankgiving!
      Please…the education ads. I just finished school for Medical Billing and Coding, and “Yes”, I do want to continue my education, but what I need right now is a job!
      And it is getting frustrating what with filling out all of those applications, and recruiters and offers to SELL Insurance!
      Everyone………..Hang in there!! We will all get jobs SOON!
      And as far as those people who are deciding they want a job right now because they are bored, but have sufficient income from another source, now is not the time to decide you want a job. Do some volunteer work for now and leave the few jobs that are out there for those of us who are trying to keep our homes and feed our children.

      • I’ve been out of work since April this year. I’m 50+ as well and went down south to the flood-damaged homes and helped rebuild them. I’m finding volunteering to be life changing for me (in a good way) and reenergizes me for the job hunt. Also, has anyone tried Linkedin? I have found this tool very useful. It’s like the old networking parties from the 80′s and 90′s but it’s FREE. I’m putting together a plan to search out companies I want to work for and then going through the “back door” to find employees who work there (i.e.) hiring managers, marketing dept. heads, etc. What it all boils down to is trying to get 15 mintues face time and then asking information gathering questions. Figure if I get enough of these and keep following up, building my network, etc. I’ll be back to work sooner rather than later. Keep plugging away folks, there’s light at the end of this tunnel and no, it’s not a train.

  17. I’m 50 and was laid off in 2005, and worked temp jobs since. This is the longerst I’ve ever gone without work! We used to say as kids, “beggers can’t be choosy”; I just want to get back to work, remain financially independent and pay my bills on time. Yet each year passes bringing another wave of young (and cheaper) pool of applicants, and I get less positive about finding a job.

    I’ve done everything else from temp agencies; setting up dozens of computerized search engines and spending 8 – 10 hours everyday looking and applying 1000′s of jobs (maybe 2 responses for every 100 applications); to Resume Rabbit (which doesn’t do anything for you but provide a list of job search sites which are completely useless when I live in Europe now)

    Like James (above) said, IF I get to the point of an interview, I’m often asked, why are you applying for a this position with YOUR qualifications and experience? Or, “go back to school and get xyz qualifications. But if I come out of school at say 54 or 55, with yet another degree (I have a masters), will that give me any edge over some 22 year old??? I don’t think so, and I’ll have a new mortage, uh, I mean college loan to pay for again…

    We are not dinosaurs! Older workers were once valued (no maternity leaves, tend to be more loyal to the company, etc) but –as James said younger and cheaper is the way of the world.

    I’ve done some volunteer work, and I’m looking for more (I am truly blessed that my partner’s pay can take care of everything) but I am also using these new-age networks like Linked-In, so when I see a job posted, I check to see if any former colleagues, friends, etc are working there. I contact them and let them know I’m applying for a job there. Sometimes they give me advice, other times they tell me to email my resume and cover letter and they will talk with someone in charge. So I hope this new tatic will end this drought and help you readers out there. Thanks for reading and sharing, and I wish you sucess :)

    • Is there something you love to do and are very good at? While unemployed with no prospects, why not try to make some money doing what you are good at independently? I did and am now making ~50% of what I did when I had an employer. With word of mouth, my hobby has gotten to be my part time job!

      • REALLY REALLY GOOD ADVICE!!!
        Now is the time for entreprenuership!!! and Volunteering!!!
        God feeds the birds and surely we are more important than the birds!! HE will not let us go hungry.
        Good time for reading, meditating, exercising and taking care of our older and younger family members!!!
        I have been reading a bible memory verse book to help me get through these tought times. 1/ HAVE FAITH! We have nothing to fear, but fear itself! 2/ ask not what your country can do for you. but what you can do for your ciuntry!!!

    • James’ & Deidre’s comments are exactly correct. Age discrimmination has always been around despite “laws” against it. The only “law” companies have today is the bottom line. While understandable to stay in business, employers lose valueable chances to obtain great employees because they have the age stigma imbedded in their cement heads.

      While education and skills are important, at our age I don’t believe it’s a good idea going into debt to take courses unless it guarantees one a job. Nothing is guaranteed anymore. The last thing you want is to hit retirement age being in debt, let alone having enough money saved up to retire on, which is another sore subject for another time to discuss.

  18. After a year of beng unemployed I was just hired the week before Thanksgiving. Not only was I hired but so were 3 other people. So, don’t give up during the holidays and make sure you stay connected socially (Facebook, Linkedin, etc) so that previous coworkers and casual friends can find you when they do hear of a position.

    Best wishes to everyone who is still looking.

  19. I’m 25, fresh out of the military, I served 6 years as a submariner. I have no college education, but I don’t really think the “younger and cheaper” thing is really true, I’ve been interviewing with companies that are willing to pay anywhere from 60k-90k/yr just for my experience. I have friends that have gotten out of the service and gotten jobs over guys the same age, younger, and older with college degrees just because they have “experience and work ethic”.
    So my point is this, for you younger people out there, try joining the military, before I got out I was makilng around 45k AFTER taxes, and now my service is definately paying off, I’m getting a lot of calls and I’m actually having to turn many of them down because they are completely unrelated to my experience. Employers respect veterans and we are ALWAYS in high demand.

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