Wrong. In fact, says Kate Wendleton, now is exactly the time to hit your job search the hardest.
"Although most job seekers don't realize it, conditions are ideal for them this time of year," says Wendleton, president of The Five O'Clock Club a career coaching and outplacement network. "While they won't 'officially' tell you, many organizations are planning to hire in January. That means now is the perfect time to put yourself on their radar."
Wendleton knows all about helping people navigate the complicated job market, regardless of the season. Hers is the only career program in which members meet with professional coaches and peers on a weekly basis in a friendly, club-type format. It offers small group career coaching across the U.S. and Canada. And its website — www.fiveoclockclub.com — provides hundreds of free articles and audio recordings on job searching and career development.
"It may come as a big surprise, but looking for a job this time of year actually increases your chances of getting hired," Wendleton promises. "You have less competition, and many companies are in a hiring mood. It's the perfect storm — in a good way — for job seekers."
Nearly everyone believes the "no one gets hired during the holidays" myth, so the majority of your competition is taking a break while you're still filling out applications. The fact is, it's much easier to out-class and out-perform the competition when there's next to none of it!
"It's amazing how many people retire from the job-hunt battle this time of year and leave the field wide open," Wendleton says. "At no other time will it be easier for you to really distinguish yourself from the pack. For one thing, hiring managers will have fewer résumés to distract them; plus, they'll be impressed by your drive and persistence, because most of your peers are taking it easy."
Managers are planning their post-Auld Lang Syne moves now. Here's a valuable tip for job hunters: January is often one of the biggest hiring months of the year. However, no organization will say that it plans to hire in January — right now, all you'll hear is that there are no openings at present (which is technically true). And guess what? Those upcoming positions probably will be offered to the people who expressed interest and met with hiring managers during the holidays.
"Right now, organizations are doing their budgeting for 2011," Wendleton explains. "For example, one company The Five O'Clock Club spoke with said they will not do any more hiring this year because they want to keep the numbers looking good, but they will fill those positions ASAP in the New Year, and they might even consider making offers now. Who is going to get those jobs? The folks who throw their hats into the ring during the holidays!"
What you can do to improve your job search:
Reconnect with the year's contacts. You've sent out cards and good wishes to friends and family...so why not extend that tradition to all of the job-search contacts you've made throughout the year? Send a card or email thanking each person for his or her help, wishing them a Happy New Year and include an update on your situation. You never know when the right memory might be sparked!
"One of your main goals should be to stay on the radar of as many people in your network as possible," Wendleton says. "
Expand, define, and redefine your targets. You may have a short — or long — list of companies on which you're focusing, but that list isn't definitive by a long shot. The last thing you want is a skimpy or sloppy group of targets that lacks breadth and depth. Plus, you never know when you might discover a new company you never knew about that's an ideal fit.
"You can expand your list of targets by revisiting what your skills and strengths are (maybe there's something you've overlooked!), brainstorming with friends, and doing more internet research," suggests Wendleton. "Many people are amazed to discover, after months of job hunting, an organization that isn't rich or famous but is nevertheless a great place to work."
Focus on avenues you've neglected. Everyone has a preferred method of getting meetings, whether it's through ads, search firms, networking, or direct contacts. During the next few weeks, focus on the avenues you normally skimp on. You'll probably identify new hiring trends, new contacts, and new positions. And (as we've established) now's the ideal time to get your name out there.
"Many people neglect networking and direct contacts, because they're the most labor-intensive," Wendleton shares. "If you fall into that category, challenge yourself to launch a targeted mail campaign this holiday season. Imagine what the impact might be if you send out ten intelligent cover letters per week, and then make follow-up phone calls a few days later. At the very least, you'll be a familiar name to a bevy of hiring managers."
Don't withdraw from your support network. Five O'Clock Club members attend a weekly meeting in order to receive support, advice, and help in their job searches. If you belong to such a group, don't use the holidays as an excuse to skip meetings. One of your primary goals should always be to make sure your search is moving forward.
"Accountability and outside input are crucial in helping you stay on track, and they also ensure that your job search doesn't lose originality and momentum," Wendleton says. "If you don't have a support network and are worried that you'll slack off despite your best intentions, ask a friend or family member to serve as a sounding board and check in on your progress."