"It's almost Christmas, so I think I'll put the job search on hold until later in January. Nothing much happens over this time anyway..."
If I had a dollar for every time I have heard a comment like this as a career coach, I'd be living in a penthouse overlooking Sydney Harbour. Well, maybe not that wealthy, but certainly financially better off by several hundred dollars...
What I've seen over the last 3 years or so, is that employers are hiring and firing in the week before Christmas and the week following new years day. Why? Money, costs, bottom-line. It's all about business. Gone are the days when companies didn't want to upset peoples' holidays or festive seasons by terminating staff after the 1st of December. Organisations are far more focused on the bottom line and will happily and readily make changes to headcount (costs) where required. In essence, they don't have anything against these surplus employees, and the contribution they've made for the business, but they can't justify hundreds of thousands of dollars of additional cost (or more) to keep them on for another month unnecessarily.
This situation has been heightened by the pandemic, and employers will be looking to ramp things up now that lockdowns and other government-mandated restrictions are being lifted. In essence, we are getting back to 'normal, and employers (and society in general) are more optimistic and forward-looking. Organisations will be looking to get their businesses on a firm footing to enter 2022 and this also translates to ensuring the right people, with the right skills are hired to take the business forward.
The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) said in their November 2021 update:
A rapid bounce back in domestic demand is forecast in the December and March quarters as restrictions are further eased. The unemployment rate is expected to be a little below 5% at the end of 2021 before declining to around 4% by the end of 2023".
So, what does it all mean for us as job-seekers? It means that jobs are out there (or will be out there), and we need to take advantage of that...Especially while other job-seekers are turning off the job search until 'after the kids go back to school in the new year'.
Now, I'm not saying that you should spend the festive season pouring over job boards, chasing recruiters, and frenetically networking. We all need a re-charge and hiatus from the challenges and frustrations of job search. This will ensure we are energised and ready to undertake a mentally-demanding job search and then start in a new job.
What is critical is to not completely cease your search based on an inaccurate view of what's happening in the market.
I have compiled some thoughts for you to consider in this article, which should be helpful as we enter the festive season.
There are always jobs available - They may be jobs that are in the public domain (such as job boards or recruiters), or they may be a thought in a hiring manager's congested brain. Either way, if you remove yourself from the market entirely over the festive season, you won't be able to take advantage of this...but others certainly will.
The so-called 'Great resignation' - We've all read or heard something about this phenomenon which has apparently already hit the US (35 million resignations and counting) and will strike our Antipodean shores in March next year. Fundamentally, many people have stuck with managers, jobs, and companies begrudgingly since the pandemic started...It's better to stay in a job than risk moving around in such an environment of uncertainty. However, with the economic upturn predicted, employees will look to change and seek more senior or different roles, escape a poor manager, earn more, continue virtual working, or seek more meaningful work among others. There will be more jobs available (yippee!!), but also more competition for those jobs (groan). This of course means our value to potential employers needs to be front and centre and we need to be focused on ensuring we are differentiated from others in the market (which encompasses all elements of an effective job search, including resume, LinkedIn profile, networking strategy and interview skills).
It's a great time to network - For any job-seeker, networking should be the number one job search priority given that around 75% of people land their next job this way. Networking is even more important during the upcoming festive season. Organisations will have pressure to fill roles ASAP to either start immediately or early in 2022. Most organisations will be open over the period with the exception of the mandated public holidays. Similarly, most organisations will be halfway through their financial year (or starting or finishing depending on what cycle they use), and staffing (skilled resources) will be top of mind to ensure relevant business targets are achieved now that the pandemic shackles are coming off. In a practical sense, people in organisations will be on a break, less pressured at work (spending more time chatting to colleagues, having extended lunches, ducking out at 4), and therefore more available for a chat. Similarly, if you are at a social event, people will often ask what you do for a job. Don't be embarrassed about being unemployed, tell them, and tell them what you are looking for...People know people and very often good contacts are made this way. There is no stigma around redundancy. Most people have been through it and will want to help you, even with something as simple as an introduction.
Consider contract roles - For many of us of a certain age, contract or short-term roles are not really viewed as 'real jobs', which are generally perceived as permanent full-time roles. Things have changed and the growth in jobs is in the contract/casual arena. Don't dismiss these opportunities as they often have easier entry to organisations, provide exposure to different industries, an expanded business network, but more practically can be extended or in some cases become permanent opportunities. With the anticipated spike in business activity post-pandemic, organisations will be looking to bring skilled employees on board for short-term gigs.
Review your job search - If you have been in search for several weeks or months leading up to the festive season, take some time to think about your search to date. What has worked? What is not working? What do I need to change? What's my plan of attack (in terms of targeting people, companies, setting up networking meetings, and the like). I often say to my clients who are not getting traction in search that if you keep hitting the same nail with the same hammer, you can't expect different results. Very often this is because we are stuck in a rut of just focusing on advertised job ads, which every other Tom, Dick, and Harriett applies for, or liaising with a few harried recruiters. As mentioned above, ensure that networking is your key focus in job search over the festive period and the new year.
Self-development - Do some reading, online courses, speak to people. What skills are in demand? What skills do you need to be more contemporary and competitive for roles you are interested in? There's no time like the present and there's also a good degree of self-satisfaction in adding to your existing skills.
Everything you do in your job search is cumulative. Done well, it will stand you in good stead and ensure that opportunities come your way. What you have done, and what you do leading up to the festive season will count. Many of us who have been through job loss and search know how difficult it can be and the mind games that challenge us.
Enjoy the festive season and new year, but also use this time wisely to navigate towards your next great opportunity in 2022.
If you'd like help with your job search, contact me, Paul Di Michiel, by clicking here.