By Perminus Wainaina
With the holidays around the corner, you’re probably deciding to put your job search on hold until the new year.
The job market notoriously slows down during the holidays because lots of people are planning family vacations and trips home and are not looking to make a move until after the New Year.
With this in mind, it is easy to assume this isn’t the best time of year to look for a new job.
Believe it or not, December presents a perfect opportunity for you to find a job.
If you’re in the market for a new job, here’s why you should start looking now instead of waiting until January:
1. A lot of temporary and part-time opportunities
December is an unusually busy time of the year for many businesses. In addition to retail and sales positions, some businesses such as shipping, marketing, design, entertainment, hospitality and online content management have positions available during the holidays.
Last December, a company approached our recruitment team, seeking to hire individuals to handle stock taking for a week. We ended up recruiting over 30 people, who earned themselves a salary for the one week they were hired.
Therefore it stands to reason that they will need a lot of extra help to get through the month. Take advantage of these temporary opportunities to get your foot in the door, or to simply earn extra cash while you are looking for something more permanent.
Salaries can range from Kshs500-Kshs5000, depending on the industry and your availability.
2. A Great Time to Network
The holiday season is filled with holiday parties and events, which makes it the perfect time of year to network. You could simply be tagging along with a friend to their company’s holiday party, or catching up with an uncle you have not seen in a long time. There are numerous opportunities for you to meet new people or let your existing network know about your career plans.
From professional functions and office parties to community gatherings and dinner parties, there is no shortage of holiday events to keep you from rubbing shoulders with new contacts and reconnecting with old friends.
The best way to network is by meeting new people and getting others to know what you do. In Kenya, over 50% of jobs are never advertised and hiring is through word of mouth. It helps to know people.
If you meet somebody who might be helpful in your job search, ask for his or her information and follow-up later.
3. Great Time To Contact HR Manager and Recruiters
With so many employees out of the office, HR managers have more time to answer emails and phone calls. They also have more time to pay attention to the details in your CV. Reach out to HR managers and decision-makers responsible for filling the positions to which you applied. You can also take this time to find out what they look for in candidates.
You’ll be much more likely to get a response, and there’s a good chance your ambition will be rewarded.
Even if they don’t have open vacancies, you’ll be on top of their mind whenever a vacancy arises in the New Year.
4. New positions are available
Many companies plan their year and budget in advance.
With the budget, they may have positions they would like to fill, that are not listed during the course of the year as they are unsure of whether the budget will be enough to bring on another salary.
As the year comes to an end however, what could be leftover from the budget becomes clearer. This then allows the companies to consider opening up positions that would be beneficial to them, that they were previously unsure they would be able to afford.
Also, many HR managers and recruiters confirm that most people quit their jobs in December and January. This, therefore, leaves employers with no choice but to fill these positions. If you are not actively job searching you might miss these opportunities. Keep your ears on the ground and get to know of opportunities before everyone else.
This is a good time to subscribe to Corporate Staffing Services job alerts, and check the website for any job openings that may arise.
If you have a target list of companies, now would be the time to check in on their job listings.
5. There is Less Competition
Most people want to take some time to enjoy the festivities and spend time with family. This naturally means less time is spent focusing on work or looking for a job.
With everyone running around trying to prepare for the holidays, there is less competition for open job positions. Therefore, with fewer people applying for jobs, it is easier to stand out from the crowd.
Take advantage and apply for open positions that will make you stand out and get ahead of the game by January when everyone else is just deciding to switch jobs.
Be sure to keep up your conversations throughout the holidays. Employers are more likely to place a candidate that has been in contact with them throughout the holidays than those who have been unresponsive.
This also means that you should keep your schedule flexible throughout the holidays.
Employers that are looking to make new hires before the new year may have limited time slots for interviewing because key decision-makers are on vacation. Be willing to come in and meet with people on short notice if asked.
Finding a job or transitioning to a new job can be a difficult thing. Searching for a job is never truly an enjoyable activity, but if you ignore the potential to find a job in December, your job search process may end up dragging out much longer than you had hoped. So why not continue the search through December?
If you’re not sure or you’re seeking clarity on where to start, with your job search, get advice from a mentor, family and friends, or a career coach.
Perminus Wainaina is the C.E.O and Managing Partner at Corporate Staffing Services, a leading HR consultancy firm based in Westlands. Through personalized career coaching he assists mid-level and senior professionals get solutions to complex and challenging career issues that they are facing. Click here for more on career coaching.