December Job Search Game Plan


Contrary to popular opinion, agencies and companies don’t flip a switch and turn off hiring during holidays. Yes, year-end vacations and social events can slow down the process but smart job seekers will use this time of year to implement seasonal-specific job search game plans.

Recruiters confirm a year-round need to fill new jobs. Edelman SVP of recruiting Travis Kessel said the Chicago office alone is actively trying to fill more than 50 open positions, while Tina Dugas of Bloom Gross & Associates indicates she is engaged in more searches now than any other December in recent memory. She explains that some companies are in a race-to-the-finish, hoping to close out open jobs before the year’s end, while others are looking ahead with plans to round out new projects and to adjust or add staff in the next calendar year.

“Holidays do not dictate client needs, and in fact, we often see an increase in hiring around the holiday season of full-time and contract employees alike,” says Edelman’s Travis Kessel. “Granted the holidays may slow things down given the much shorter month due to holidays, however, in many cases new budgets in the New Year spell opportunity for job seekers.”

Tina Dugas urges job seekers: “Take this time to prepare – know who the players are in communications – and keep your ear to the ground about developments as they occur so that you can be a first responder.”

Here is my 3-prong approach that can help keep your job search active during the month of December:

Get Organized

  • Create a contact spreadsheet of all business and social contacts, noting their jobs, email, phone number and interests.  Log most recent contacts and subjects discussed. This becomes an important resource during your current search or during a future search.
  • Research and make plans to attend professional events and social events.
  • Map your contact strategy for each person on the spreadsheet.

Attend Holiday Events

  • Escort a friend or relative to his or her office party.  This is a great networking venue; co-workers enjoy meeting friends of their colleagues.
  • Attend extended family events.   Even that wacky aunt with an ugly Christmas sweater knows someone who knows someone.
  • Dress for Success. When in public or attending a social event, dress to the level of the position you wish to land.  If the job you’re seeking is business casual, don’t wear jeans and untucked shirt tails to social events where you might encounter someone with a job lead.  If they don’t envision you in the role, they won’t mention it.
  • Be positive and optimistic.  No one wants to hear a sob story about the difficult job search process.  People want to help those who are positive and enthusiastic about the careers they want to pursue.
  • Engage in 2-way conversation.  Don’t be overly anxious to impress since it often leads to too much one-sided conversation.
  • Volunteer at a major nonprofit organization. Their holiday events often are attended by executives whose companies may have current or future job openings.

Follow Up

  • Senior PR professionals indicate that only one in 10 people they meet at social and networking events ever follows up.
  • Send holiday cards.  With fewer and fewer people sending holiday cards, yours will stand out–especially when you include a personal note.
  • Stay in touch.  When you see a news story that might be of interest to that individual, drop him/her a note.
  • After you land a job, inform and thank everyone on your spreadsheet. You’ll be one of the few who closes the loop, which instantly makes you memorable.

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