by Brenda L. Peterson, The Layoff Lady
'Tis The Season
I'm currently working my way through layoff #7, which is also my fourth layoff in the late fall. Out of these fall layoffs, three of them went into the holidays.
Being in a career transition is rough. Being in a career transition during the holidays—especially the week before Christmas through the new year—is soul-sucking.
I’ve read several of articles touting the benefits of job searching during the holidays--and I mean a lot, a lot of them. (No one else will be applying! You’ll get a leg up on other applicants! Tons of people are trying to fill positions before the year's end!)
I'm sure somebody somewhere found the role of a lifetime on the day after Christmas interviewing with the one brand new HR rep with no vacation yet who was stuck working. I am not that person. I'm also not going to make the mistake of trying to be that person ever again.
The Challenge of Job Searching Around the Holidays
Even in a fast-moving job market with ridiculously low unemployment, it takes a bit to find a job. Just given the linearity of time, there will be a gap between when you apply, interview, and get an offer you’d like to take. This process can feel like it takes an eternity when people at these potential employers are focused on working. During December, with people taking time off for all things holiday, finding gainful employment moves even more slowly. Take a break and let yourself move more slowly and deliberately.
My last winter job transition (layoff #5) lasted 5 months. By far, the most frustrating period was a couple of weeks after Thanksgiving until the end of the year. Undoubtedly, the last two weeks of December were the absolute worst.
In short, nothing came from my job search at that time. I was either submitting applications to jobs that no one would pay much attention to for a couple of weeks, following up with employers who had other priorities, or bothering former colleagues for recommendations when they were in the throws of their kid's holiday programs and family get-togethers. The job search picked up again the second week in January when people had their heads back in the game at work.
Take Time for Self Care
Here is my advice to job seekers at the end of the year. Take a holiday break. Go do things you’d like to do when you’re gainfully employed but that are harder to find time to do. Go to a noon yoga class. Get together with friends for lunch. Read a novel with no obvious professional development benefit. Go to a matinee. Visit a museum. Take a road trip. Walk around the mall on a weekday. Buy fancy coffee in a café and people watch. Take some time for yourself. Take a break from pounding pavement on your job search and just breathe. I guarantee you'll feel better from giving yourself a reprieve.
Just like we all need vacation time to recuperate from our day jobs and be able to do good work, we also need to take a break from a job search so we can have the mental space to regroup. Take a couple of weeks off—like the week before and the week after Christmas—and reset. Your future self will thank you for this act of self-care.
7-time layoff survivor Brenda L. Peterson, The Layoff Lady, waxes poetic on layoffs, job transitions, & career resilience.