Job Hunting During the Holidays

My main career goal in the new year is to find a new paralegal position with expanded responsibilities and better compensation. Although I’m eager to tackle a job search, I’m wondering if it would be better to wait because I’m afraid employers won’t be thinking about hiring during the holidays. What do you think?

Conventional wisdom might suggest that employers will wait until the new year to embark on new initiatives, such as adding staff, but that’s not necessarily the case. After all, people are always leaving jobs for one reason or another, irrespective of the time of year, or needs may arise that require firms to add staff now, rather than later.

A survey by Robert Half Legal seems to support this thinking. It found that nearly one-third (31 percent) of lawyers interviewed said their law firm or company planned to expand or add new positions in the second half (July through December) of 2013.

So, yes, go ahead and launch your job search. You may actually have an advantage as the year winds down. Here’s why:

Lighter Competition

Just like you, many job seekers consider putting their efforts on hold in November and December, thinking they’ll be more successful at the start of a new year. But if you take a look at job postings, you’ll see that many employers haven’t stopped looking for talent with key skills and practice area expertise. Especially in the legal field, staffing needs are not necessarily seasonal. And if other candidates decide to put their search on hiatus, you may have an edge when it comes to getting noticed.

Budget Surpluses

Some employers accelerate their hiring efforts at the end of the year because they still have funds earmarked for adding staff. In some organizations, there may even be a “use it or lose it” policy in effect, so hiring managers may have to relinquish any surplus funds if they don’t put it toward bringing in new employees.

Easier Access to Interviews

The pace of business sometimes slows at the end of the year as a result of vacations and the winter holidays. With a little less urgency in the day-to-day workload, some hiring managers shift their focus to laying the groundwork for the coming year, and that includes conducting hiring activities. As a result, hiring managers may be less busy than usual and have more time to review your resume or call you in for an employment interview.

Even if some firms wait until the beginning of the year to actually make hiring decisions, that doesn’t mean they’ve stopped reviewing resumes and considering candidates. By submitting your application materials now, you’ll be first in line when the hiring process gets in full swing again. Remember that employers are always on the lookout for professionals with in-demand skills. That means there’s really no wrong time to look for your next job, no matter what conventional wisdom says.