Rev up job search during the holidays
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Many people believe the myth that companies stop hiring during the whirlwind of winter holidays. Although hiring does taper in December, hiring activity never really stops -- something to consider if you're considering ramping up the job hunt in the new year.
Forty percent of hiring managers told CareerBuilder.com in August (prior to Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma) they planned to recruit new workers in the fourth quarter, down from 50 percent in the third quarter. At the same time, 15 percent expected to decrease headcount, up from 11 percent previously.
A study by outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc. found that the odds of being downsized increase by as much as 54 percent between October 1 and New Year's Eve. This is the time when companies finalize their budgets for the coming year or make last minute cutbacks to improve the year-end bottom line.
But, they'll also know if they'll be hiring or expanding their employee base in the near future.
The smart job seeker can take advantage of having an edge over their competitors who have become lax in searching. Here are some job tips for the year-end job seeker:
Beef up your portfolio: Print and take home personal files on your computer and locate copies of your performance appraisals and other personnel records. At the same time, update your resume with all of the past year's skills and accomplishments. Make PDFs of any work samples, presentations, published work and research.
Begin immediately: If the bad news is that most layoffs occur during the last three months of the year, the good news is that the period between Thanksgiving and New Year's is one of the best times to find a job.
"Because budget approvals expire at the end of the year, there is a sense of urgency among hiring managers and recruiters," explains Human Resources expert Lori Kocon. "Yet while HR is usually in full recruiting mode, most people put their job searches on hold during the holidays. The result is it's more of a candidate's market."
Exhaust your resources: Try some of the best tactics rarely used, says Don Straits, CEO of Corporate Warriors. Add graphs or charts to your resume. Send work samples with your resume. Create an online portfolio. Directly contact department heads by name rather than the generic human resources contact. Attend industry association meetings. Burn your portfolio and resume onto a CD and send to potential employers.
Capitalize on the holiday spirit: What better time to network than when people are in good spirits and socializing frequently? Go to parties and gatherings, especially those where you're likely to meet new people who could be sources of job leads.
Make it a point to listen more than talk. Be positive and upbeat. While you won't want to hand out resumes or press for contacts or referrals, you will want to let people know you are looking and follow up with them after the party. Seek out all the other participants and network like crazy.
Keep your schedule flexible for interviews and meetings: Avoid taking weeklong trips. Though there may be a strong interest in hiring, the hectic pace of parties and shopping makes it harder to schedule mutually convenient appointments.
Roger Martin had been out of work for nine months, when on December 21, he got called back to interview with the head of a brand marketing firm. He flew to California to meet the CEO, who was vacationing with his wife's family, and received an offer on Christmas Eve. He was later told his willingness to make the trip during the holidays helped him clinch the job.
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