Ask the Headhunter: 8 reasons you shouldn’t lay off your job search for the holidays

Photo by Flickr user Ruth Hartnup

It’s a fallacy that the holidays are not the time to search for a job. But don’t suspend your job search because “now’s not a good time.” Photo by Flickr user Ruth Hartnup

Nick Corcodilos started headhunting in Silicon Valley in 1979 and has answered over 30,000 questions from the Ask The Headhunter community over the past decade.

In this special Making Sense edition of Ask The Headhunter, Nick shares insider advice and contrarian methods about winning and keeping the right job, on one condition: that you, dear Making Sense reader, send Nick your questions about your personal challenges with job hunting, interviewing, networking, resumes, job boards or salary negotiations. No guarantees — just a promise to do his best to offer useful advice.

Question: The closer we get to the holidays, the harder it seems to be to get any employers’ attention. I’ve been on the job hunt for months, and I’m wondering if what a friend of mine says is true: Applying for jobs in the last weeks of the year is a waste of time. Do you think that’s a fair assessment?

Nick Corcodilos: It’s a fallacy that the holidays are not the time to search for a job. Of course, if you need a break, Christmas and New Year’s are not a bad time to spend more time with friends and family and to volunteer some time to worthy organizations to help those less fortunate. But don’t suspend your job search because “now’s not a good time.”

Christmas Eve was not the time for war maneuvers either, but George Washington creamed the Hessians at Trenton, because “no one does business during the holidays.” If you’re ready to make a change, don’t sit out the two weeks before New Year’s.

The conventional wisdom is idiotic. Who says, “companies don’t make decisions at year-end”? Who says, “no one’s around”?

This may be the best time to make your drive into the company of your choice. Certain end-of-year phenomena make crossing the Delaware auspicious. Put your resume aside, start thinking about intelligent topics to discuss, and get on the phone now.

Take the initiative

While other job hunters are out of the picture, make your calls to companies and people who aren’t being deluged with the regular requests for interviews and information. This is a time of less competition. Capitalize on it!

Get past the gate keeper

The receptionist is bored. With fewer calls coming in, it’s easier to strike up a conversation with the person who answers the phones. Ask for information, names, advice, contacts. And get the receptionist’s name — when you call back in a couple of weeks, you won’t be a stranger. (See “Get past the guard.”)

Take advantage of HR

Meanwhile, the cat’s away. The personnel jockeys who stand ready to cut you off at the pass are not there in full force — if they’re there at all. Now’s the time to poke around in many areas of the organization and to make new contacts without being routed to the HR office.

For more tips about how to get past HR during this time of year, see “Getting in the door.”

Make some new friends

Lots of managers work through the holidays — and so do lots of their team members. The place is quiet. Nerves are calm. Information is more easily had. A tactful, no-pressure call from you can yield a useful discussion — and valuable advice and insight.

But employees of your target company are not the only path to a job. In “Meet the right people,” I discuss all the other people who can help you get in the door.

Talk shop — not about jobs

When you get a manager on the phone, avoid asking for a job. Get the manager to talk about the business instead — show some interest!

“I’ve heard a lot about you. Your company is one I think I’d want to work in, and I wanted to learn about the organization. By the way, congratulations on winning the XYZ deal. I read about it in ABC magazine.”

Have lunch

If the manager responds, ask if you could stop by in a couple of days for “the cook’s tour.” This approach works best if a company insider refers you to the manager, but it can work regardless.

In lots of companies, the work slows down and people are also more casual. When you get that discussion going, leverage the calm. Ask for a non-interview.

“I’d like to continue our conversation. I’m going to be in your part of town around noon tomorrow — would you like to grab a quick lunch?”

This isn’t just a way to get in the door. It’s a way to meet an insider who can help when you finally get to talk with the hiring manager. See “Get Hired: 3 steps to become the wired insider for the job.”

Meet the staff

While many managers are on vacation, lots of staffers are busy in their cubicles. These are people who typically don’t talk with job hunters. When you get a staff member on the phone, and he tells you the manager is gone, don’t leave a message. Have a chat. Ask for his opinion about the company and the department. Ask for advice. You’ll be amazed what you’ll learn from someone who isn’t wary about calls like yours.

Be first in line

This is the time of year when managers are preparing next year’s budgets. They’re deciding which jobs to fill and which new jobs to create. So give them some ideas. Suggest why you would be a good addition to their teams, and explain how you could make their departments more successful. Be the first person in line for next year’s job openings.


Why you should stop networking

If this all sounds “forward” or rather aggressive, it’s not. It’s assertive. It shows motivation. It shows a high level of interest on your part. Come January, you’ll be one of hundreds of people trying to get the manager’s attention. Your resume (and your message) will be mashed at the bottom of a big pile. Washington didn’t wait, he charged. Make your move now.

For more tips to get started early on your 2016 job search, see “Ask The Headhunter In A Nutshell: The short course.”

Have a great holiday season!

Dear Readers: Are you suspending your job search over the holidays? Or do you find the year-end quiet makes it easier to talk to employers?

Nick Corcodilos invites Making Sense readers to subscribe to his free weekly Ask The Headhunter© Newsletter. His in-depth “how to” PDF books are available on his website: “How to Work With Headhunters…and how to make headhunters work for you,” “How Can I Change Careers?”, “Keep Your Salary Under Wraps” and “Fearless Job Hunting.”

Send your questions to Nick, and join him for discussion every week here on Making Sense. Thanks for participating!

Copyright © 2015 Nick Corcodilos. All rights reserved in all media. Ask the Headhunter® is a registered trademark.