by Brenda L. Peterson, The Layoff Lady
'Tis The Season
Of my seven total layoffs, three began with my role being eliminated in the fall and ended with me starting a new job well into the new year. Being in a career transition always has rough patches. Being in a career transition during the holidays—especially the week before Christmas through the first full work week of January—is soul-sucking.
I’ve read several 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 the day after Christmas interviewing with the one HR rep who was out of vacation and 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 Hiring Process Takes Time
My shortest period of post-layoff unemployment was 50 days. In that time, I discovered the opportunity, applied for the role, had a phone screen, interviewed with the hiring manager, met with the hiring manager's boss, had an interview with the team, received an offer, negotiated the offer, waited for the background check, and then started. During this entire process, I had an interview each week. We started talking in mid-March, when no one was on vacation, and there were no major holidays.
Holiday Hiring Challenges
Not even considering each organization's busy season, making progress on finding a new job in December is challenging. In addition to whatever year-end tasks need to happen, people are also focusing on holiday parties and family commitments, and sometimes using their vacation so they don't lose it. Unfortunately, focusing on getting people through the hiring process ranks lower on that full priority list.
The Darkest Job Search Time
In my experience, the absolute worst weeks for job searching are the last two weeks in December, with the very first week in January still being very slow. Then, as if by magic, on the first Monday of the first full workweek of the year, the world starts moving again.
Those last two weeks in December can be downright brutal if you're trying to continue job searching. Possible referrals will suggest you wait until people are back in the office. The HR person you might manage to talk to is likely the one with the least vacation who is not hiring for the role that interests you most. You may also find that you'll get next to no good news and instead get a lot of long-overdue "we regret to inform you" emails confirming that you did not get that job you applied for several months ago.
My Holiday Job Search Advice
Here is my advice to job seekers at the end of the year. Take a break from pounding pavement on your job search, and just breathe. Stop applying for a week or two. This break will do you good.
Instead, take some time for you. Go do a few things you enjoy but don't always take the time to do while you are gainfully employed. 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. Whatever it is, do some things that bring you joy.
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. If you want to do something for your job search, revisit what you want in a new role and ensure your goals are still the right ones. Then, you can move forward and have more success in the new year.
7-time layoff survivor Brenda L. Peterson, The Layoff Lady, waxes poetic on layoffs, job transitions, & career resilience.
Buy The Book!
Were you recently laid off from your job and need a roadmap for what's next? Pick up a copy of my book, Seven Lessons From Seven Layoffs: A Guide!