happy new year 2013 on the beachEvery year recruiters and HR pros go through the annual tug of war that is is holiday job seeking. Is it the worst time to look for a job? Is it the BEST time to look for a job? Do HR pros effectively take the final weeks of the year off?  Will folks who apply for 2012 jobs have to wait until 2013? All boiled down, the questions reflect a fundamental disagreement about whether or not recruiting and its consumer counterpart, jobseeking grinds to a screeching halt. Here’s why it’s stupid to think like that (whether it’s a genuine reality or not).

“This ‘bad time of year’ myth has become conventional wisdom among job seekers,” notes Harry Urschel, head of Minneapolis recruiting firm e-Executives, who adds that it isn’t at all unusual for people to find new jobs even in that quiet week between Christmas and New Year’s. Other headhunters agree: A new survey of recruiters by online executive career network ExecuNet says that 69 percent report placing as many, or even more, candidates in December as in any other month.

1) Even if jobseeking does wind down, you’ll stand out more in a reduced pool of applicants. If everyone takes the ‘vacation from jobseeking’ advice, then you may have an increased chance of someone seeing your resume or reaching out to give you a call…even if they’re just doing it to reach their quota. Make sure that if that happens you are absolutely ready. All the usual jobseeking advice applies here.

2) Keep working or you’ll face a huge hole in your calendar sometime in January. With the average time to fill somewhere between 30-60 days, if you take even two weeks off from looking, submitting resumes and booking interviews, then you are taking a huge gamble.

3) Create an opportunity from the downtime. You know how every single jobseeking post tells you to research every job and personalize every cover letter? By taking the lazy, relaxed weeks before the holidays to do that, according to the jobseeking blog at Intuit, this may put you ahead of the game.

They’re ready to go around human resources. Presented with a good job candidate, the manager may decide it’s time to fill a spot without waiting for human resources to wade through hundreds of applications after the holidays. If the manager makes a hire before the end of the year, that person can be on board and ready to start Jan. 1. This only makes a manager’s life easier.

4) Networking galore! The holidays are a great time to network and these are activities that you definitely should not miss. Chamber of Commerce parties, fundraisers and trade association meetings are all great places to network. There are also second-degree networking opportunities. If you have saved up your social cred for this moment, now is the time to use it. People want to help, give them the chance to do so. Give people in your networks notice ahead of time that you are looking so they can advocate for you at their networking events. Be specific about your skills. Make it easy for them by sending your profile, a link to your resume and jobs you might be interested in.

5) Go all out. The holidays are about connecting with people and while you shouldn’t be opportunistic in your communiques, you can catch more flies with honey than you can with vinegar, so go ahead and let people know in your holiday cards that you are looking. Keep it short and surround it with other family news. Follow up notes (or muffin baskets) to employers with whom you’ve interviewed won’t seem so odd during this festive time, so send them!

6) Remember that you aren’t the only one who might be looking, so be sure to share the networking love. Ask friends and family how you can network on their behalf if they are interested in finding a new opportunity. They’ll be more likely to help you. Plus you emerge looking like a connector!

in Job Search Advice]