The Five Biggest Mistakes Job Seekers Make During the Holidays

Posted by Jeff Pelliccio on Dec 2, 2013 8:28:00 AM

In Job Search Tips

It seems we’re all extra busy this time of year and hectic holiday schedules can make it easier than ever for job seekers to procrastinate. However the savviest among them know that the job market is often at its most active in December and suspending a job search entirely during the last month of the year can lead to missed opportunities. Among the biggest mistakes job seekers make in December:

• They assume that December is a lost month and that little hiring takes place around the holidays. Wrong! Nothing could be further from the truth: December is one of the most active months of the year for hiring managers who are under pressure from departments in their organization to fill open positions which may expire at the end of the year. Additionally, many departmental budgets for the coming year are not finalized until late fall, so hiring managers often have a mountain of roles for the new year to fill just before Thanksgiving and they use December to develop strong shortlists of candidates to present during the first weeks of January. If you wait until the New Year, you won’t make those lists.

• They assume that hiring managers are probably out on extended holiday vacations anyway, so they defer their applications until January, ‘when everyone will be back in the office.’ This is a big mistake. Hiring managers are busier than Santa in December and they will likely view your continued communication with them as a sign of professionalism because it demonstrates not only your pro-active willingness to stay in touch—but your awareness that, in fact, they may have openings available. By showing you understand their business, you are showing that you’ve done your homework and would make a great addition to the team

• They assume that, because important business contacts and hiring managers are just as busy as the rest of us during the holidays, it’s better to wait until January to contact them, rather than reaching out in December. This is really just a rationalization from those who probably want to suspend their job search anyway, but it’s a terrible idea. Why? Because the holidays are the time when people expect and enjoy greetings from contacts. Now is the time to start writing holiday greetings that include the suggestion that you would like to be considered for available openings that are a good fit with your skills and experience. During the rest of the year, your approach to potential employers is necessarily quite straightforward. But during the holidays, it’s perfectly appropriate to wrap that approach inside a cordial holiday greeting. The holidays are a time to stay touch with contacts and to wish them well. Don’t waste this opportunity which is almost unique during the year.

• They fail to follow-up with interviews that have taken place around Thanksgiving because they assume that ‘Things have just slowed down due to the holidays.’ In fact, the opposite is more than likely true: Things have sped up so much that it’s hard for the hiring manager to keep up. If you have sent job inquiries or had interviews in the fall, make sure to follow up with your usual promptness and professionalism even as Christmas approaches. If you stay silent until January, you may find that the opportunity has disappeared.

• They don’t prepare properly for an interview even if they have applied for a job, because they assume they won’t be called until the New Year. This is a dangerous assumption. We havee seen so many well-qualified candidates who have been called for an interview right before Christmas—a golden opportunity they would have cherished at any other time of the year—only to show up without their usual level of preparation. Remember, if you are looking for a job, it’s your responsibility to do the background research on the position, the company, its leadership, and your hiring manager whether the holidays are right around the corner or not. An interview is just as valuable—and just as easily bungled—on New Year’s Eve as any other day, so make sure you’re prepared for a last minute interview!

So in the midst of all these common mistakes, what’s the upside? The golden opportunity for job seekers during December is that they can continue their diligent job search while the field is so much less crowded because so much of their competition has made these incorrect assumptions.

If you continue to execute your job search with an understanding that hiring managers may actually have more open positions in December than during the rest of the year, you may just close out the year with that great new professional opportunity you have been seeking.

All the best for a prosperous—and busy—holiday season.