It’s a common misconception that the job market is always dead during the holidays. Some years the job market is dead – in other years, between Thanksgiving and New Years, it’s hot.
During my Resume Secrets Mastermind Webinar, a candidate asked about job search during the holidays.
“Is the job market going to slow down until after Christmas?”
The job market does slow down many years between mid-November through the end of December. In other years, the job market is at its strongest at the end of the year. There’s a perception that hiring managers, recruiters, and HR reps are too busy whooping it up at daily holiday parties to have time to hire people. WhooooHoooo!!!!
The reality of the late year job economy isn’t as entertaining. It all has to do with 3rd Quarter numbers. Most companies are on a calendar year, with the 3rd quarter ending 9/30 – it takes a month for public companies and about 45 days for most private companies to tally quarterly results. These are complete in early to mid-November.
During years with poor 3rd quarter YTD earnings, finance departments put the breaks on expenditures to manage earnings and limit losses. This often includes hiring. The perception of a holiday slowdown is caused by missing poor profitability, not party time.
These are some years that recruiters and HR reps are busier than ever during the holidays. During years with strong 3rd quarter results, the finance department has no reason to slow hiring. Open positions are approved through year end but if left unfilled, they must go through the whole approval process again. In addition to the extra work for the hiring manager, unfilled positions risk losing budgetary approval. Hiring managers understand that 12/31 can represent a “use it or loose it” deadline, so they are highly incentivized to hire before year end.
So which one of these scenarios apply to 2010? I don’t see hiring grinding to a halt during the holidays, like we saw in 2008 and 2009. There’s conflicting data as to just how strong the season will be.
The case for a strong hiring market in 12/10:
The majority of corporations reported strong 3rd quarter numbers, in most industry verticals. The stock market is performing at pre-recession levels – so are job advertisements. Google and Facebook have started a hiring war in Silicon Valley and heath care hiring continues to increase, with shortages in many clinical positions. Many businesses have cut staffing to the bone, so in order to generate greater profits they will have to add workers – the temp market is strong now, which is a leading indicator of full time hiring. These facts all point to a strong holiday hiring season.
The case for a weak hiring market in 12/10:
The real estate market is still in the dumper, and the ripple effect also causes slow hiring in the construction, mortgages, home improvement, and durable goods verticals. Even as many banks are recording record profits, small businesses still have trouble gaining access to credit so many don’t have the working capital to fund expansion and new employees.
What should a candidate do during the holidays? Don’t give up your efforts. The holidays are a great time for networking (all those holiday parties) and hiring markets are certain to be better than they were in 2008 & 2009.
Readers – What do you think? What are you seeing in the job market today?-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
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