Updated: November 2020
Losing a job can be difficult any time of year but job loss around the holidays can be even more difficult. There are a number of seasonal and personal factors that come into play with a holiday job loss. Should you move forward and jump back into the job search during the holiday season? Should you take time off from the job search and focus on trying to enjoy the holidays? In this blog post we will share the pros and cons of the holiday job search, strategies to help you cope and suggestions for how and when move forward.
Job loss during the holidays can feel more traumatic than job loss during other times of the year
Whether expected or unexpected, losing one’s job is traumatic. Period. It is traumatic anytime of year. Losing one’s job around the holidays can be even more traumatic, painful, and damaging to the ego. After all, it’s not like you want to chit chat with the in-laws about your recent misfortune. And mentally, it may be extremely difficult to make merry and enjoy precious holiday family time. To top it off, any anxiety you have about finances, is compounded by the fact that the holidays will delay any shot of finding your next job. If you’re the loved one of someone who is recently unemployed, be aware that empathy, compassion, and kindness are needed to support your loved one. Go easy on them and don’t take any negativity too personal. Just know that this is extremely difficult for someone to experience – at any career level or age.
Should you or shouldn’t you? Picking up the pieces after job loss
So how should you manage the mix of emotions around this loss? The temptation after losing a job, is that of finding a replacement job, quick. This is the right attitude, but it may be counter-productive during the holidays due to hiring slowdowns. It may also be counter-productive if you’re in need of making a career change. You may also need to take some time to mourn the loss before moving forward. Don’t take too much time for this, but rather give yourself a few days or even weeks to recover. Jumping back in the saddle, when you are potentially holding onto past employer resentments will definitely not be a productive use of your time and energy. After you’ve taken time to come to terns with your situation, then you can prepare to move forward. While you can’t control holiday hiring, you can control your acceptance of the circumstances. Your mental and emotional energy will be better spent planning your post-holiday plan.
Why take advantage of holiday downtime?
All work and no rest is never good. It’s even worse if you’re having a hard time recovering from the shock of losing your job. Putting your job search on hold temporarily could be just what the doctor ordered. It will help you take the necessary time to regroup. Then, you will be ready to get back in the game once the holidays are over. There are a number of other reasons for taking time off during the holidays.
The pros and cons of pausing your job search during the holidays
If you’re determined to land a job you will probably really struggle with pausing your job search. That is normal. However there are some benefits associated with putting the job search on pause during the holidays. There are also some potential negative effects associated with taking the holidays “off.” Here are the pros and cons of hitting the pause button on your holiday job search.
1. Pro: Taking a break from the job search can rebuild your confidence
One reason to pause your job search during the holidays is that of rebuilding your mental game. The job search requires a hefty dose of positivity and mental focus. If you’re newly unemployed, you may be in short supply of positivity. You would be better off getting some space. Taking time off to enjoy the holidays and spend time with loved ones will help to build you back up so your confidence is intact post-holiday. Find ways to stay positive. You may also want to try these 4 ways to deal with job loss.
2. Pro: Hiring is naturally much slower during the holidays. You’re not missing anything!
Another reason for putting the job search on hold is hiring seasonality. Hiring tends to slow during the holidays and summer. The reason for this is due to decision makers being out of office and general end of year wrap up. Hiring managers are also in holiday mode. There are holiday parties and vacation days to consider. Trust me. Hiring managers won’t be aggressively searching for their next hire. Therefore, you won’t be missing out on too much by taking a little break.
3. Pro: Time away from work can improve your ability to find a better fit job
If you haven’t enjoyed your last job, industry or career path, the holidays can be a good time for finding a better fit. You will need to figure out your next move and this doesn’t happen overnight. The last thing you want to do is end up in another job that sucks the life out of you day after day, right? Use holiday downtime to focus on light research around a new career path. Talk to people in your holiday surroundings. Bounce ideas off of your friends and family if the topic of career does arise. Your next career move will be much more beneficial if it’s thought-out rather than jumping into a fruitless job search.
“One of the first things I realized when working with NG Strategy was that I didn’t know what I didn’t know. As a communications professional, I had thought my resume, profile and cover letters were compelling, but when they failed to generate interviews, I decided to give NG Strategy a try as Noelle and team had been highly recommended. Within three weeks, I had new resume, a targeted cover letter and a greatly enhanced LinkedIn profile. I “get it” now…I get what you are supposed to do and how to have an edge. I have been in the work force for more than 30 years, and my career has taken me in a few directions. NG Strategy helped me to hone my skills and experience and better define my “brand” in a way I hadn’t been able to before. Now, I am off to find a great job and am feeling so well prepared and confident thanks to NG Strategy. What they were able to accomplish in just a few weeks would have taken me months, if ever, to achieve. Wonderful people and process–and worth every penny! I highly recommend The Works –and wish you all great success in your search!” – Priscilla, Communications VP and The Works client
4. Con: Loss of motivation
Taking a break during the holidays is not for everyone. If you’re someone who is highly determined and motivated, it’s for you. If you’re someone who finds it difficult to get motivated after vacation, a big break from the job search might do more harm than good. Know yourself and plan accordingly. Make a little time each day of holiday break, to put your head back in the game. If you simply do a little work, some of the days, then jumping back into the search 100% after the holidays won’t be as challenging.
5. Con: Time away from the job search can be time lost after the holidays
If you’re experiencing job loss over the winter holiday season, you may be facing a good month or more of hiring slowdown. This can feel like an eternity if you are eager to land another job asap. And of course putting anything on hold means loss of time. However, is it really a true loss of time if you’re only going to receive “out of office” emails anyway? The average job searcher approaches the job search by finding online job postings and hitting “send.” However, there is much more that goes into an effective job search. The job search requires cultivation of a network; researching the best-fit jobs; researching contacts; resume tailoring, branding, recruiter outreach, and an online presence on LinkedIn – to name a few key activities. If you put everything completely on hold, you’ll be further behind in the long run. Therefore, it may make sense to spend some time on job search activities that don’t require having a captive hiring manager or networking audience.
Expert Tip: Create a plan for your post-holiday job search & then take a break
A post-holiday plan is the best way to focus your job search BEFORE the holidays. This plan will help you feel prepared to hit the ground running. It will also alleviate any feelings of “wasting time” or not doing enough work to land a job. The reality is, holidays are very slow for hiring. So you’re not missing out on too much. You simply need to train your mind to believe this. Part of your plan should be focused on enjoying the holidays. Schedule very little time online and refocus your time around immersing yourself in holiday traditions. The silver lining in job loss is the opportunity to refocus on the important things in life. No, your career is not the most important thing in life. Therefore you should embrace the present moment as much as possible. If you have come up with a robust plan for tackling your job search post-holidays, you will have no reason to feel guilty for avoiding the job search. Instead, you can be confident knowing you will be able to hit the ground running once the holidays come to an end.
Customize your holiday job search plan to your unique situation
Try to incorporate as much of your job search as you can, based on your unique situation. If you’re not sure what you want to do next, focus on soul searching and research. If you know your next move, focus on researching networking contacts to pursue after the holidays. If your resume has never been customized, spend some time tailoring it so it’s ready for when you start applying. If you are feeling under-networked, spend some time doing deep research on LinkedIn. You don’t have to fully immerse yourself in the job search to be productive. Simply spending time on the right activities for you will help you gain footing once you do restart your search.
6. Con: Loss of motivation to network can lead to less networking
Holidays are synonymous with networking. Holiday parties and family reunions are just a few of the occaisions where networking will occur. By avoiding networking during the holidays, you’re missing out big time. Every person you meet during the holidays has a network he/she can leverage. If you don’t talk to your network, your network can’t help you. Therefore, you’ll need to put on a good face and work up the motivation to engage your network.
How to network during the holidays if you just aren’t feeling it
If you’re not up for in-person networking events that’s okay. It’s perfectly understandable. After all, you will want to be able to put on a good face before in-person networking resumes. Try reaching out to your LinkedIn contacts instead. This may mean reconnecting over the holidays but at least you can make an effortless attempt to get on radars. Try sending a personalized message to your close professional contacts to share the latest on your career transition. Let your contacts know what you are hoping to do next. You may also want to invite high-value contacts for a coffee or lunch if they live nearby. By doing something as simple as sending a short note, you are priming your contact for some post-holiday networking.
Request the gift of career coaching or a brand new resume
If the thought of a post-holiday job search stresses you out, that is normal. However you may benefit from the support of a professional resume writer or seasoned career coach. I’ve had many clients receive my coaching or resume services as birthday and Christmas gifts. In fact we started offering career gift cards for such occasions due to client demand! These gifts helped them go on to land great jobs! The holidays are a great time to let mom and dad or your spouse know that you could use a little career support instead of the standard holiday gift. Drop some hints or ask outright. A little expert support will go a long way and this is the time of year to ask for it!
If you’re hoping to hit the ground running after the holidays, check out the Job Search Accelerator. In this budget-friendly job landing program you’ll have access to all of Noelle’s expert resources including optimized resume / cover letter templates, networking scripts and templates, LinkedIn optimization courses, interview answer scripts and more – everything you need to feel confident, navigate the job search successfully, and put your best foot forward as an applicant.