‘Tis the Season to…Heat Up Your Job Search?

Conventional wisdom says that the holiday months are the worst time to be conducting a job search. Indeed, around this time of year, candidates are generally reluctant to seriously discuss their job search. They cite several seemingly good reasons for this: companies are not hiring, they would rather get started fresh in the new year, bonuses are upcoming, and the list goes on.

However, in this case, conventional wisdom is wrong. The holiday season can bring tidings of good cheer in the form of your dream in-house counsel or law firm job. There are three primary reasons for this: (1) Companies are hiring; (2) there is less competition; (3) the holidays present prime networking opportunities.

(1)   Companies are hiring.

One common misconception is that companies halt their hiring processes in November and December. While it is true that there is a bit more stop and go during the holidays, companies remain eager to meet with candidates during this time of year. In fact, clients are often more motivated to move swiftly at the end of the year for a variety of reasons, including that the incumbent could be leaving at the end of the year or the search budget could apply to the current year. Anecdotally, a well-known media company feared they would lose budget for an in-house counsel role if they did not make a hire prior to the new year. They began their search in November. We were able to deliver an excellent candidate, the client paid out the candidate’s expected bonus, and the search was wrapped prior to ringing in the new year.

Even if the company or law firm is not set on making a hire prior to the new year, they are still interested in meeting with candidates and seeking to advance their hiring process. If you put your search on pause, another enterprising lawyer could end up interviewing for your dream job.

(2)   There is less competition in the market.

That said, the market is far less competitive during the holiday season. For those who have been active in the market throughout the current year, the holidays can signal a time to put their search on hold. For those contemplating making a change in the new year, they often choose to wait until January to take serious action in their prospective search. In both cases, this is a mistake. Just like in your law school classes, your ability to obtain a top grade – or in this case, your dream job – depends on who your competition is. While your competition uses their increased holiday free time exclusively to make merry, you can take advantage of the lull in their activity to get increased traction in your own job search. Even the smallest amount of effort can make the biggest difference. So, while work is slow and time off plentiful, spend a moment on your search.

(3)   The holidays offer prime networking opportunities.

So how can you take advantage of this increase in free time and decrease in competition? The holidays gift you with the most potent of job search tools: increased networking opportunities. Even for the wariest of networkers, the holidays are a natural time to forge new connections and to reconnect with old ones. Take advantage of the good cheer you encounter by matching it with your own:

  • Send holiday cards and emails out to your contact list.
  • Attend annual industry holiday parties and events.
  • Attend your well-connected friend’s holiday party.
  • Send LinkedIn requests to people you want to know wishing them a happy holiday.
  • Reach out to hiring managers you have not heard from in a while under the guise of wishing them a happy holiday.
  • Wish a trusted recruiter a happy holiday and let them know that you are open to seeing new opportunities.

 All these factors combined make for a potent time to buck conventional wisdom when it comes to your job search. The window for executing on this fruitful time of year is limited. Just as your neighborhood gym fills up in January, the legal job market also becomes more crowded - but in this context, you are missing out on more than an opportunity to use the bench press machine. By forging ahead or jumping in early, you can be much better positioned to capitalize with a great new job.

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