The Festive Job Hunt: 5 Strategies to Kickstart the New Year

Embarking on a job search is no small feat, and doing so during the year-end festivities may seem unconventional. However, this is the perfect time to keep applying, searching, and networking. In this post, we will explore 4 actionable steps to position yourself for opportunities in the new year. Let’s begin!

Let’s address the myth of the holiday-hiring hiatus.

Year-end job seekers often face additional challenges, such as people being unavailable due to planned time off. You may have bought into the misconception from other people, including corporate recruiters, that job hunting during the holidays is a waste of time.

Hiring is a year-round process, and December is no exception. I recall one of my recent engagements where a client interviewed for a VP of Product Management role the day before Christmas and received an offer a week later.

The point is, if there is a vacancy to fill, especially a business-critical function, and a great candidate comes along, the company is not going to NOT interview that person just because it’s the holidays.

Waiting or pausing your search will only delay you getting into your job faster.

4 Reasons to Stay Active During the Holidays

1) Companies have extra year-end budgets.

Many organizations operate on a “use it or lose it” policy, where departments risk losing their headcount if they don’t use up their annual budget for new hires.

2) You will face less competition for more opportunities.

Other people pausing their job search during the holidays works to your advantage in a few ways.

First, proactive companies use this time to recruit top-tier talent. Second, with business slowing down, planning and attending interviews becomes more manageable while avoiding drawing attention from your current employer. Finally, this is a chance to consider international roles. since not every country or culture celebrates a December holiday.

3) It is a great time of year to network.

The holidays provide a unique chance to connect with people in more casual social settings without the overt job-hunting vibe. People tend to be in a more giving spirit, which makes it easier to reach out. After all, this is the perfect opportunity to wish others ‘Happy Holidays.’

Remember, referrals play a pivotal role in the job search process.

4) New hiring budgets for the new year.

Private sector companies finalize their new year’s budgets in the fall season during the current year. These budgets include plans for hiring new employees and budgeting for new and vacant positions.

With this in mind, a holiday job search coincides with many companies’ strategic planning for the new year.

4 Ways to Set Yourself Up for New Year Success

1) Set clear goals for your target roles, companies, industries, etc.

Do NOT skip this step. Getting clarity on your career goals is essential in creating an organized job search strategy that outlines what you want to accomplish, including understanding and applying for roles that best leverage your unique skills and experiences while setting the boundaries of your job search efforts.

To help get you started, check out part 1 in our STEM job search series, which focuses on creating a target company list.

2) Refresh both your resume and your LinkedIn profile.

The goal of your resume is to position you for the role that you want, not the one that you have (unless they are the same thing). Similarly, your LinkedIn profile should be future-focused on your next career step, going beyond your resume to share more details about your unique value in a more casual, humanizing way.

Employers look at both (although not always at the same time). Therefore, both documents need to integrate the right keywords and industry-specific phrases so that you can get found by recruiting, hiring professionals, and other people who need to know you and what you have to offer.

For more details, check out our post on how to identify and integrate keywords into your resume.

Additionally, you may find our 6-part STEM resume breakdown series helpful on how to update the different parts of your resume, such as:

3) Prioritize LinkedIn networking over online applications.

There are many job search strategies you can use, however, some have a greater ROI than others, and online applications have some of the lowest ROI. Reason? Online applications make it easy for anyone with a computer and an internet connection to apply to any position, regardless of their qualifications.

As a result, many job postings, especially those at larger companies, receive hundreds, sometimes thousands, of resumes for one advertised position. Even the best resumes typically receive a response rate of under 7%. Therefore, if you were to submit 100 online applications, you might hear back from 7 employers.

Many companies prefer to hunt for talent internally and within their immediate networks, which is why networking, or building connections with people who work at your target companies, is so critical. Often, by the time a job is publicly posted, employers have shortlisted people known to the organization by a current employee.

Let me clarify. I am not telling you that you should never apply online. Everyone does, including all of our clients, and our process is focused on crafting targeted resumes that position our clients for their career targets while reading well for applicant tracking systems (ATS), recruiters, and hiring decision-makers. However, you should never focus exclusively on just one job search method. Our most successful clients use various strategies that prioritize higher ROI methods.

Remember that target company list we mentioned earlier in the first strategy? Remember when I advised you not to skip that step?

Well, if you heeded my advice, that initial pre-work will pay off as you will use that list as your guide for identifying starter contacts, building connections at your target companies, and preparing for interviews (we will cover that next).

Additionally, instead of casting a wide net in your online applications, you can focus on applying to positions at companies where you actually want to work, which, in turn, will help you use your time and energy most efficiently.

To help get you started, check out the following posts in our STEM job search series:

4) Set yourself apart by preparing for the job interview.

As indicated above, the initial pre-work from creating your target company list can be handy when you prepare for interviews.

Dive deeper into the company website to review its mission, vision, and values. Much of this information can be found on a company website’s Career pages. Use LinkedIn to research your interviewers’ backgrounds and resume to map your skills and qualifications to the job requirements and create compelling stories.

Finally, prepare for the beginning of the interview, aka “Tell me about yourself.”

In the grand scheme of things, your #1 obligation is to yourself. Do what you must to maintain your health, take breaks, spend time with loved ones, get enough sleep, etc., to set yourself up for success in the new year.

Scientech Resumes is dedicated to helping science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) professionals find fulfilling work through targeted, branded, and keyword-optimized resumes, LinkedIn profiles, and other career marketing documents. Schedule a FREE 20-minute discovery session to get real-time feedback on your current resume and job search strategy, or connect with me on LinkedIn. Let’s get you where you want to go with greater results!









Kate Williamson

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