This holiday season, don't get sidetracked by those who suggest you take a break from your job search to join in on the holiday festivities. To many, this time of year seems like a fruitless time to job search. They cite a bad economy, employer interest in only seasonal workers, low pay and a lack of physical and mental presence of hiring managers. However, Shana Smith, Army Reserve spouse in Orange County, CA says to ignore the naysayers.
“I actually landed two jobs as a result of a holiday job search and remained at one of them for five years”, she said. “I went to an interview with Apria Healthcare the day after Thanksgiving and started work the first week in December as a 90-day temp employee."
The research and the experts also tell a very different story, one where there are jobs to be had throughout the holiday season. So where are they?
The BLS reported that in August 2013, there were 3.9 million job openings and the levels of job openings increased over this time last year in every industry except state and local government.
Furthermore, the Society of Human Resource Management Job Outlook Survey reports that slightly more than half (55%) of the HR professionals who responded to their survey have some level of confidence in the job market and expect growth between October and December this year.
The bottom line: jobs are plentiful and employers plan to hire. Nearly 86 percent of retailers intend to hire seasonal workers at the same level or higher than they did last year, according to the seventh annual retail holiday survey released October 9, 2013 by Hay Group, a global management consultancy.
In fact, the group also reports that many seasonal workers will get good benefits packages with their job offers as well. A full 30 percent of the retailers reported that they not only expect to hire at least one-fourth of their seasonal hires as full-time staff after the holidays, but they will also offer more pay, discounts, and flexible schedules to attract and retain the best talent. The key word: retain.
So how do you get these jobs if hiring managers aren't around? Join them in the festivities and be flexible.
“Studies still show that 60 to 80 percent of jobs are gotten through networking," said Althea McIntyre, Chicago-based career coach. "So, for people who are proactive, they can really get ahead of the crowd. People are in a festive mood, so don’t be afraid to get out and introduce or re-introduce yourself."
McIntyre, owner of bestcareerforme.com, suggested job hunters attend professional association meetings and events since they tend to be more open to non-members during the holidays. She also urged them to send holiday cards, especially to people at organizations to which they want to return.
"And, don't assume they (hiring managers) are all too busy for informational interviews. For some industries, the holidays is not their busy time, so it might be easier to reach people and they may have more free time,” McIntyre added.
Smith encourages military spouses to put their flexibility to good use when landing interviews at the holidays.
"It wasn't that it was more difficult to get interviews during the holidays, it was just more difficult to schedule them," Smith said. "With so many people on vacation and out of the office, the interviews were always at the last minute. I got calls asking if I was free the same day or the next day. I did them, but I felt more frazzled than usual because I had to pick up kids and do other things.”
And to be clear, retailers aren't the only ones who want to hire. According to the SHRM survey, 43 percent of the respondents said that in July, August and September they had the most difficulty hiring salaried professionals like analysts, nurses or engineers and 21 percent had difficulty finding skilled laborers, such as technicians and mechanics.
So this holiday season, why not party with a dual purpose: to celebrate the season and to land a job. After all, between the naysayers who won’t bother and the people who don't know what you know, you just might have fewer competitors. Happy holidays and happy hunting!