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?