The holiday season is chaotic for most everyone, businesses included. While some companies are focused on hitting Q4 goals, others look to rejuvenate their employees with much needed time off to be with family and to travel. Either way, this ensures scheduling challenges and can even stall hiring. For someone conducting an executive job search, this can lead to frustrations and seeming dead ends.

There are also companies who focus on hiring before the end of December as they want to use up their budget for the year, but this can also present some challenges.

Two Executive Job Search Holiday Scenarios

In my experience, all this leads to two common scenarios those involved in an executive job search can encounter this time of year. Let’s walk through them:

1. Radio Silence

The process slows to a snail’s pace or stops altogether because of a few factors:

  • Vacation schedules for those involved in the hiring process.
  • Schedule availability when it’s the busiest time of the year for the business.
  • If you aren’t a finalist, people don’t like delivering bad news around the Holidays.
  • Lack of focus. Sometimes people just deprioritize hiring this time of year.

Regardless of the reason, patience as a job seeker is more critical than ever. Asking your point of contact what to expect as you enter the holiday season is more than fair. Don’t show frustration but keep in touch with relevant check-ins. If the company is interested in your candidacy, they will reengage you right after the New Year and try to move through the process at a much faster speed. Be ready to go from no contact to a barrage of scheduling and information gathering almost overnight.

2. Must Hire Now

This happens when a hiring manager must fill the position before the end of the year or risk losing the headcount. Most of the time the company won’t tell you this because they don’t want to raise any concerns that the company isn’t doing well and risk losing you as a candidate. This scenario is usually pretty obvious. Here are some things to look out for:

  • The process picks up speed as you enter December.
  • The scheduling dialogue changes from “When are you available?” to “Your next meeting is Thursday at 10:00am.”
  • Requests for information from you become more like demands.

Just as when the process is slow, don’t get frustrated and ask your point of contact about their goals for timing.

As you work through your executive job search during the Holidays, both scenarios can be off-putting and leave you wondering if it’s a representation of company culture or more of a byproduct of the time constraints. To figure this out, do some digging and answer the following:

  • When is their fiscal calendar?
  • Who has anniversaries in December on LinkedIn? (this will shed some light on the hiring trends for them.).
  • What does your network know about the Holiday business pace at Company X?

If it’s a role you are interested in, understanding how the Holidays impact the businesses you are speaking with will help you manage your executive job search and expectations and hopefully relieve some of the stress so you can enjoy the Holidays!