During the holiday season, people are typically focused on shopping for gifts more than a new career. Many job seekers take a break from looking, while employers tend to slow down their recruiting.
Although December is traditionally the worst month for hiring, according to Indeed.com, that doesn’t mean it isn’t a great time to look for what’s next. Whether you’re thinking of advancing to another level in your career or shifting gears completely, Seia Milin, a human resources professional based in the Seattle area, said the holidays are actually a very strategic time for making a career change. “This is not the time to let up,” she said. “It’s the time to push more.”
From sharpening up your skills to getting ahead of the competition, there are plenty of reasons to dust off your resume and use the holidays to your advantage. What’s more, the current situation with COVID-19 might actually be an unexpected upshot for new job opportunities.
New Year, New You
2020 has been a doozy. With so much change and uncertainty already, coupled with a heated election season and socially distant holidays, thinking about a career change might seem overwhelming. But Milin said evaluating your professional well-being is an important form of self-care that’s great to think about going into the New Year.
“Look back and say, ‘Do I love what I do? Am I working for a good leader? Have I reached my maximum potential in my position, or is there more?'” Milin said. Take the time to listen to yourself and reset your career priorities to help you get the fresh start in 2021 that you need.
Future Job Security
If you have a job now, you might just consider yourself lucky and not want to rock the boat. However, Milin recommended examining whether you’re well-positioned in your current career track and consider whether your job might be in danger in the future. If the answer is yes, use this quieter time to begin exploring new options and evaluating how your existing skills might transfer into something new.
Time to Upskill
If you’re shifting gears, the slower work pace of the holidays can provide a good opportunity to sharpen up your skills. Maybe it’s time to look into courses that your employer offers in management training or technical skills if you’re hoping to level up within your company. Or if you’re seeking a new job elsewhere, Milin pointed out that the great thing about working from home is that you have more time and freedom to take online courses. “I can take my lunch break and watch a webinar at the same time,” she said.
It’s also a good time to practice your interviewing skills. Now that video conferencing is such a regular part of life, set up your own Zoom call and talk about yourself to get comfortable touting your skills and experience on camera.
Less Partying, More Working
Under normal circumstances, holidays at work would be peppered with parties, eggnog and lots of vacation time to jet off to beach destinations or visit family. The pandemic, of course, has put a damper on all of that. “The holiday mood this year is not as cheerful and there is a good probability that employees will focus more on work,” Milin said. That means that job seekers may very well get more attention from hiring managers who are staying put and still looking for top-quality candidates.
The Jobs Are Real
Milin said that employers who are posting jobs over the holidays are doing so because they have a real need. So while there may be relatively fewer postings compared with other times of the year, the ones that are there are more legitimate opportunities, as opposed to passive recruitment postings from large companies that may not have specific positions to fill. “Not only do they have the headcount volume, they have the need and budget,” she said.
With many other potential job seekers taking a holiday break, this is a great chance to take advantage of a less-competitive landscape. “When everyone else is busy shopping, you can update your resume and see what’s out there. With less competition, it gives you more of an opportunity to get in there and speak with employers and hiring managers,” Milin said.
Time to Ramp Up
Once you’ve landed your new dream job, starting a fresh position during the slower winter months — especially if you’re shifting focus or careers — can mean you’ll be able to learn the ropes at a more relaxed pace. Then when all your colleagues come back in January ready to work, you’re truly able to hit the ground running.
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