15-12-17_Christmas.jpgDo Holiday Hires Happen?

Around this time of year, it’s easy to lose ourselves in the bustle and excitement of the season. People across the country are preparing for vacations, busying themselves with decorating their homes, shopping for gifts, laying out plans for hosting out-of-town relatives, scrutinizing recipes for the big feast, and dashing from party to party. It’s a lot of work, being festive. And during the holiday rush, recruiters and talent often disengage, believing that hiring managers have placed their focus on Amazon orders rather than job orders.

However, that perception — prevalent as it’s been for decades — may be colored with a lot of misconceptions. There are naturally more people at the office applying for time off, yet business itself continues to steam ahead like the Polar Express. I would suggest that Christmas is one of the best times for recruiters to source and job seekers to hunt.

Christmas means business

With all the aggressive sales events, price reductions, retail booms and packed shops, it seems funny that so many people expect Christmastime to be a dead zone for hiring. In actuality, this is the one of the biggest periods of the year for businesses. Think of how many people lament the “commercialization” of Christmas yet simultaneously believe that companies don’t need talent to support the increases in commerce. Take a look at the seasonal hiring initiatives of organizations in North America and Western Europe.

  • Amazon is looking to bolster its seasonal hiring with a projected 100,000 temps. That’s a 25-percent increase over last year.
  • Across the pond, Amazon UK, the Royal Mail and Argos are also ramping up for the anticipated holiday rush, announcing a recruitment campaign to place about 47,000 seasonal positions collectively.
  • According to a recent survey by Korn Ferry (NYSE: KFY), 67 percent of U.S. retailers set out to hire more workers than the year before, and at higher rates.

These hiring spikes aren’t just confined to seasonal talent, though. With a new year fast approaching, hiring managers concentrate more intensely on meeting year-end objectives, establishing 2016 business goals, developing strategies and ensuring that the right talent are in place to execute those plans come January. This is a prime window of opportunity for committed recruiters and savvy job seekers.

Fresh starts don’t happen when recruitment processes stagnate

Every New Year’s Eve is punctuated by envisioning clean slates, preparing for fresh starts and dedicating ourselves to achieving those ends. How about making a New Year’s resolution right now? If you’re serious about driving up your recruitment numbers or landing a new career, this is the moment to double-down on those efforts by staying focused and sustaining your momentum.

Easing up or succumbing to the “checked out” holiday mindset will make resuming your progress more difficult after Christmas passes. More importantly, you could be missing ongoing opportunities that arise: for recruiters, that could mean filling critical positions; for job seekers, that could mean beating out the competition for a stellar opening that becomes available, yet languishes in the inbox.

If nobody else is working, your competition has diminished

Whether you’re a recruiter attempting to place talent in a hyper-competitive field or a skilled worker seeking a new role with an in-demand company, December could be a pivotal month. As many job seekers slow their searches — either because they feel companies aren’t hiring or because they’ve packed their schedules with holiday events — the diminishing competition helps propel you to the top of the list. The same applies to recruiters. If your peers at other firms are throttling back on sourcing and recruiting, you stand a much greater chance of being the recruiter who lands the perfect candidate.

Christmas is a time for reconnecting — and that means networking

What are the holidays if not annual outreach opportunities? During this season, we attend reunions and holiday parties, send out greeting cards, mail gifts to former colleagues or clients, touch base with extended family members and, in general, amplify our communications. Any of these events or gestures increase your visibility along with your messages of goodwill. Spreading the holiday cheer to members of professional channels through cards, social media or actual gifts (where appropriate) helps you stay connected to connections who may have new opportunities for you — to recruit or find work.

Even a holiday party with friends or relatives can expose you to new networks: extended family members, friends of friends, and fresh acquaintances. You never know where a conversation will lead once you start talking. Perhaps, as a recruiter, you discover that your cousin’s girlfriend is the HR officer for a thriving Fortune 100 enterprise in need of staffing. Maybe you’re a brilliant programmer looking for a way into Google, and your third uncle’s best friend happens to be a hiring manager there.

Stock up on Christmas “presence”

Christmas is a season to reflect on the past and plan for the year ahead. It’s also a time to be present. As we trim trees, carol, lay out sumptuous tables, gather together with loved ones or reconnect with colleagues, what we’re really doing is being present. For recruiters and job seekers alike, remaining visible during a time when many others slip off the grid could lead to the opportunities they’ve been striving for all year. And what an awesome gift that would be.