October 24. A great fall day, as I was walking to the subway. And then I saw…
Holiday decorations! All throughout the local shopping area. October 24!
When I was a kid, the holiday thing started the day after Thanksgiving (long before that wonderful holiday, Black Friday, was invented). Then it started creeping up towards earlier in November.
And now, October 24. Before Halloween.
Aside from the complaints about the onslaught of relentless advertising and various holiday pressures, this meant I knew what I was going to hear from my private clients, Executive MBA students, and business school alums. And this year, it was going to be even earlier than usual.
“What’s the point of continuing my transition process? Everyone’s slowing down; not much is going on, so I think I’ll take the time off myself and begin again in January.”
Big mistake. Aside from the fact that December tends to be a high volume hiring month (headcount issues, among others, create that fact), abandoning a search leaves the field to your competition. Just because some businesses slow up during holiday/vacation times doesn’t mean that relationship-building stops.
Your competition will be skiing in Vail, or lying on beaches in Aruba, or just partying, planning their energetic return to action after the holiday season. By the way, January is frequently a tougher time to get things going. Not to mention the loss of momentum involved, which makes things even more emotionally draining than job search usually is. Starting again is tough. I’m not suggesting that taking a break during a search is a bad thing – it’s actually a great idea – but to lose a whole season is not smart.
As a matter of fact, reaching people you want to meet might be easier than usual. Things do slow up, but there’s a good likelihood it could work to your advantage.
Yes, some organizations do get slow during November and December, especially in financial services, but does that mean companies are closed? Of course not. Someone is keeping the place open, right? There is some business going on. And there will be, therefore, valuable contacts to be made.
It’s also easier to get people to spend some time with you at these times; the overall pace is usually slower. Many would rather talk with you than work! And talking leads to business relationships, which leads to effective networking, which leads to… (you get the point)
Just in case your relationship-building does slow down a bit during these times, it is also a perfect time to do your basic research, stay knowledgeable in your field, utilize the somewhat empty business libraries (in New York City, for example, SIBL), re-think your e-mail writing campaign, organize your resources and records, and get a lot done. We’re now in the period following…October 24 (!)… It’s time to step it up.