Life at Work

No Holiday for Job Hunters

By Amy Joyce
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, November 12, 2006

We're about to enter the busy season: shopping, cooking, planning, preparing, partying.

And yes, hiring.

So many workers assume that because the holidays are upon us, hiring must come to a halt. And perhaps when companies actually closed down for a week or two before Christmas or slowed down around Thanksgiving, that was the case. But that's just not happening as much as it used to.

"A lot of people think, 'I'm just going to kick back and start my search in earnest after the first of the year,' " said Lisa A. Ryan, senior vice president and managing director of Heyman Associates, an executive search firm that places senior-level professionals. "That's a huge mistake because when companies have a need, they're going to hire no matter what the time of year is."

Indeed, at the beginning of January last year, four people placed through Heyman started new jobs, meaning they were hired and interviewed during the busy holiday season. Typically, the company places about 60 people a year.

And if workers think companies won't start someone during the busy holiday rush, think again: This year, three people thus far are starting new jobs between Thanksgiving and Christmas, Ryan said.

The job search this time of year might be a bit different, but you can use holiday parties and other potential candidates' belief that it's not a good time to job-hunt in your favor.

Add in that the unemployment rate is the lowest since 2001, and it's a good time to look around.

Randstad, a staffing company, has 300 positions of its own to fill right now, said Jeanne Pardo, managing director of operations. The number is higher than the usual 50 to 75 openings because the company is expanding its business in Georgia and Tennessee and is looking for new help.


But, Pardo said, it's not just Randstad. "It's actually a very good time to look" anywhere, she said. "People are beginning to prepare for 2007. They are evaluating and looking at the structure today and are looking at hiring."

Proceeding with the job search this time of year may be a bit different than at other times. The interview process might take even longer than normal as interviewers take time away from work. But that also can work to the job seeker's advantage: No need to take off an entire day to spend several hours interviewing.

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