Everyone’s on vacation, résumés go unnoticed and companies don’t have the budget to add head count anyway. Should job seekers just put their résumés on ice over the holidays?
Kim Douglas was laid off in a wave of Microsoft cuts in mid-September. She had been with the company for almost 14 years and received a comfortable severance package, which included career counseling.
So instead of freaking out, the Seattle resident, 44, resolved to treat the layoff as a forced vacation and take the time to plot out her next move.
“I remember thinking, ‘I will take six weeks to do nothing, and then I will start looking.’ I hadn’t plotted it out on the calendar,” she says. “But I did think: That puts me smack in the middle of the holidays for starting my search.”
You’ve probably heard the conventional wisdom about job searching during the holidays: Don’t bother. Everyone’s on vacation, résumés go unnoticed and companies don’t have the budget to add head count anyway. So should Douglas and her fellow job seekers put their résumés on ice over the holidays?
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“I think you should look until you find a job,” says Katie Fitzner, a recruiter who has worked for Microsoft and other local tech companies. “Don’t take the holidays off, because those who really want a job won’t.”
And though she’s had trouble getting feedback from hiring managers because of the holidays, Fitzner also has held interviews and made offers during that time. “All I can tell candidates is to make yourself available during the holidays, but don’t take it personally if you don’t hear from anyone until after Jan. 1,” she says.
If you’re in a white-collar profession such as accounting, IT or marketing, you’re actually in a really good spot, says Josh Warborg, district president of staffing company Robert Half. His company interviewed 100 local CFOs in September, and 18 percent of them said they planned to hire over the next six months.
“Right now, you’ve got a lot more employers who are paying attention, because they’re finding it so hard to find people,” Warborg says. “I think they’ll pay a lot more attention through the holidays, and not let the holidays get in the way of making a hire.”
Scott Trimble, 43, is skeptical. His vendor contract at MSN ended Oct. 1, and though he has applied for several jobs, the response has been limited so far. “Maybe the [job market] is hot for tech, but I’m not a software engineer. I’m not a project manager. I’m a journalist,” he says. “I’m one of a humongous group of people who are now unemployed.”
For folks like Trimble, another short-term contract may be the way to go, advises Meghann Kern, who manages the Seattle office of smartdept. inc., a staffing agency that specializes in marketing and creative candidates.
“During the holidays, anyone who sells anything online is going bonkers months in advance,” she says.
Retailers need photographers to take product pictures, content people to write ads, and coders to troubleshoot Web and mobile apps, Kern says. Get your foot in the door and show you’re an asset, and there’s a chance that you’ll be extended, or brought on full time.
“Timing is everything,” Kern says. “If you keep at it and are consistent with your search, there’s a good chance you could have your résumé reviewed by a hiring manager who’s sitting at her desk three days before Christmas and just got budget approval for a first-quarter hire.”
As for Trimble, he’s not going to let the holidays slow down his job search. “I’m going to keep on plugging away,” says the married father of one. “I hate digging into our savings any more than I have to, and it’s definitely not getting cheaper to live these days, is it?”