Your Holiday Job Search Guide

Take advantage of the holiday season to advance your job search.

If you think a holiday job search is not worth the effort, think again. Contrary to popular belief, the holiday season is a great time to get a jumpstart on your goals before ringing in the new year.

It may be tempting to take a break during the final months of the year and relax, but don't put your job search completely on hold.

Here are five reasons why you should continue job seeking during the holiday season — plus some easy strategies to help you make the most of this time.

5 reasons to job search during the holidays

1. Hiring is a year-round process

Recruiters don't stop working during the holiday season, so neither should you. In fact, some employers may be under pressure to fill their open roles before the end of the year or risk losing the budget for that hire. If you discover a new job that's of interest, don't wait until after the holidays to pursue it. Take a moment to tailor your resume and cover letter and submit your application!

2. Your applications will face less competition

While January and February are typically considered the best time of the year to search for work (thanks to companies' updated budgets and sales forecasts), it's also the time when the job market becomes more competitive.

A holiday season job search may have a slower pace, but you're sure to face much less competition. Take advantage of this opportunity to boost your job search while other candidates are preoccupied sipping eggnog and binge-watching holiday flicks.

3. A seasonal position could become permanent

Sometimes a temporary holiday season job can turn into a full-time, permanent opportunity when (1) the company has an opening in the new year, and (2) you've proven yourself to be a valuable member of the team.

Whenever possible, seek part-time positions or contract work that align with or will help you build the right skills for your long-term career goals. Not only could these experiences enrich your resume, but they could also prove to be great networking opportunities.

4. The right part-time job could lead to added benefits

It never hurts to make a few extra dollars during the holiday season. If you opt for a part-time retail position, you might be able to use the employee discount to treat yourself to some much-needed items for your job search, such as computer equipment, interview clothing, or other job-search essentials.

Alternatively, you may be able to use your discount to cross some times off your shopping list for family and friends. Regardless of what type of seasonal job you take, this experience is a nice way to reduce the employment gap on your resume.

5. Your start date may be negotiable

Many job seekers avoid a holiday job search because they don't want to start a new full-time position in the middle of this hectic season. However, you can often negotiate your start date.

If you're leaving one job for another, it's typical to give your employer two weeks' notice. You may be able to push out your start date further if there are Thanksgiving or Christmas holidays when businesses are closed. Don't be afraid to request a later start date as part of your negotiations.

5 tips for a successful holiday job search

1. Take advantage of seasonal jobs

Taking on a holiday job can be a great way to build skills and add merit to your resume. A job like this will show experience, communication skills, the ability to work on a deadline, and flexibility to handle multiple tasks, like during a fast-paced holiday rush. Plus, it's a paid opportunity to gain these things, and the extra money made during your vacation will help with those added holiday expenses.

Another benefit is getting to learn more about a company. Seasonal holiday jobs offer a unique perspective and can tell you more about a company than regular, full-time positions. During the holidays, stress levels are high and managers have fewer resources to accommodate unexpected work shortages. This shows you just how well a manager treats employees and gives a sense of the overall environment.

You'll also have the opportunity to learn the company's values, mission, and commitment to clients — valuable ammunition for any interview down the road.

2. Get involved in giving back

Volunteering is an often-missed gem among job applicants. Taking time to give back to your community not only gives you the chance to help others, but it also builds valuable skills, shows maturity and a willingness to go the distance, and provides an opportunity to add new work experience to your resume.

And the holiday season offers a perfect time to give back in-person or at home. It's the season of giving, after all, and most nonprofits need helping hands and professional skills during this busy time.

In addition to building skills, volunteering also helps you network with other like-minded professionals; working with other volunteers will help you build your professional network. And who knows? Maybe a new connection will be linked to one of your target companies.

Personal recommendations are one of the most powerful tools in networking, so the more professionals you know, the better your chances of networking your way to your dream job.

3. Send season's greetings

The holidays are a great excuse for getting back in touch with your network of contacts. Send holiday well wishes to break the ice and invite valuable connections for a (virtual) cup of hot cocoa to catch up.

Email season's greetings to recruiters with whom you've previously worked and employers who have interviewed you in the past to update them on your recent job-search activities and reiterate your interest in working with or for them in the future.

If you're targeting an industry that typically slows down this time of year, you can take advantage of this down time to conduct informational interviews in person, over the phone, or via Zoom.

4. Turn events into opportunities

Large, in-person networking events may not be possible this season, but that shouldn't stop you from reconnecting with personal and professional contacts and meeting new people in your desired field. There are plenty of virtual events taking place this holiday season between friends, family, and those in your chosen profession.

When meeting up with small groups of friends or family members, be prepared to deliver a modified version of your elevator pitch to suit the occasion and audience. For example, will those in attendance understand your industry's jargon, or do you need to speak to your job goals and qualifications in broader strokes?

5. Treat yourself

Take advantage of the holiday sales to upgrade your job-search tools. These could include anything from accessories for your home office, to new interview clothing, to a professionally written resume or a LinkedIn profile makeover.