Is a holiday job search futile? Let's find out.
Everyone has heard of the dreaded holiday hiring freeze — that period between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day when companies stop hiring and, more often than not, actually decrease their job force. But is this fact or fiction? Some career coaches believe the holidays are the perfect time to “shop for a job,” while others believe January is when your efforts will pay off most. Here are a few arguments from both sides of the fence to consider if you're thinking about a job search this holiday season.
They're just too busy
One common belief is that hiring managers stop hiring because they need to reconcile end-of-the-year books — they push off hiring until January to save money before they close the books on the old year's budget. It also is a popular belief that companies don't want the hassle associated with onboarding new employees during the busy schedule that accompanies end-of-year deadlines and holiday vacations.
Verdict: Fact. Several companies report they freeze hiring to save both money and time during the busiest season of the year.
Companies prefer to hire in the springtime
Many employees say that companies prefer to put off hiring until the springtime for a few reasons: There are more applicants, a fresh pool of winter graduates is entering the marketplace, and more money is available. They point to spring job fairs and increased applications. Some employees even go as far to say the weather is more pleasant, and so hiring managers will be in a better mood and more open to taking on new team members.
Verdict: Fiction. Springtime may bring more graduates and better weather, but winter and the end of the year brings the “use them or lose them” policy at many corporations. Essentially, hiring managers either have to fill vacant positions before December 31 or lose the budget for those workers, so there's a good chance that companies will be looking for new employees to fill the gaps.
Temporary holiday hiring consumes the year-end workforce
Another common belief is that during the holidays, companies use their hiring funds to bring in temporary workers for the sales, distribution, and manufacturing sides of their businesses. As a result, there are no funds left to hire permanent workers. Each year, the media reports hiring spikes in the thousands; some have reported hundreds of thousands of new temporary workers. With the focus on taking on these recruits for the holiday season, companies do not have the budget for new full-time employees.
Verdict: Fiction. It's true that companies hire hundreds of thousands of temporary workers to help fulfill holiday needs, but these jobs were accounted for in the quarterly budget. Therefore, funds are not a barrier for companies in hiring new, permanent employee. In fact, several companies report retaining up to 25 percent of their temporary workers each year.
The applicants are missing
Companies report hiring freezes during the holidays because many qualified candidates are not in the job pool. A significant portion of those who are eligible are either spending the vacation with family and friends, or they are not actively applying because they think there are no jobs available. Those companies report better chances of employment during the spring when more eligible applicants are sending out resumes.
Verdict: Fact. Whether it's caused by the holiday pace or a misconception about jobs opportunities, there are fewer qualified workers applying to positions during the holidays. The good news? If an employer posts an open position during this hiring slowdown and you're a good fit for the role, your job application will face less competition. In other words, you stand a better chance of landing the job
Final verdict: Is the holiday hiring freeze fact or fiction?
After looking at all of the evidence, the jury cannot decide. On one hand, temporary hiring speeds up tremendously during the holidays — upwards of 100,000 temporary jobs are available at major corporations. On the other hand, there are fewer qualified candidates and less incentive for hiring managers to fill their open positions, so some may wait until the new year to resume their search for candidates.
The best advice for job seekers is this: Don't give up during the holiday season. While the supply of full-time permanent job openings may decrease during the holiday season, the number of active job seekers in the job market also decreases. If you find and apply for a job listing that you're interested in and qualified for, your job application will face less competition during the holiday season — and you stand a better chance of landing the job. What do you have to lose?
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