Ask the Career Expert: Should I Pause My Job Search During the Holidays?

Every year around this time, I notice a slowdown in the number of phone calls I get from job candidates.  Some of it has to do with people taking time to relax and enjoy the holidays, but I think it’s also due to the myth that December is a bad month to find a new job.  Many candidates simply take a whole month off from their search because they assume that employers are doing the same on their end.

The truth is, the first few weeks of December can actually be a great time to get a job.  In fact, as a recruiter I always witnessed a spike in placements around this time of year.  Why?  Because hiring managers are particularly motivated to fill open positions before all the decision-makers leave on vacation.  They may even lose the open requisitions if they can’t fill them by year-end.

For job seekers, this insight is crucial – especially since January is one of the worst months to land a new job.  After the new year, many companies suffer from the “holiday hangover” – people are just coming back from vacation, they’re slow to make decisions and, in some cases, the company may still be finalizing budgets and strategies for the year.  For many employers, hiring simply isn’t a priority in January.

Consequently, you have a small window of time over the next few weeks that could make all the difference in your job search.  Here are a few ways to use it to your advantage:

1.  Be prepared.  The hiring process can be accelerated in December, since managers want to get you through the funnel before everyone leaves for the holidays.  A company may call you on a Monday and make a decision by Friday, with back-to-back interviews in between.  That’s why it’s more important than ever to be interview-ready at a moment’s notice.  Take the time every day to review questions, practice your responses and stay on top of your interview game.

2.  Use your downtime.  It’s tempting to get sucked into all the leisure activities that come up this time of year, but given the opportunity here, your time may be better spent working on your job search.  For example, I recommend that candidates target a specific number of companies and/or contacts to connect with each week (10 per week if you already have a job, 20 per week if you don’t).   If you spend Sunday afternoon doing your research, you can hit the ground running – and reaching out to people – on Monday morning.

3.  Work the parties.  Get more out of the holiday festivities by attending events with a networking objective in mind.   You’re more likely to get hired with a company if you have a personal connection there, so look at these parties as opportunities to meet as many new people as you can – people who may be able to connect you to your next job.  Don’t forget to bring your business card. 
There’s no secret formula to getting a great job, but the key to any successful job search is to have a solid strategy in place, and surviving the “December hiring dash” is no different.  The most important thing is to not to lose momentum – continue to put pressure on your search every day for the next few weeks.  After that, you can take a break to assess your efforts, prepare for the next round and (of course) relax and enjoy the rest of the holidays.


Bob Park is the Head of Career Strategy and Professional Development at SoFi, where he helps borrowers find great jobs and get to the next level in their careers.  If you have a career question for Bob, ask it in the comments section below – he may answer it in his next post!

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