What's the deal with job searching in December?

What’s the deal with job searching in December?

With the new year just around the corner, I thought today would be a good time to talk about a really common question:

What’s the deal with job searching in December? Is hiring even happening? It is a waste of time to apply?

I won’t say that December is 100% a good or bad time to look for a job because the answer is that it’s both.

December can be a good month to search for a job because…

  • Seasonal hiring – Many industries are actually experiencing their busiest time of the year. If you are looking for a job in retail, e-commerce, hospitality, and many other industries, December is a time when extra help is needed. “Seasonal hiring”, which is essentially hiring temporary employees for the busiest times of the year, is very common in December. Getting hired into a seasonal role can be a great way to earn $ and get your foot in the door at a company you’ve been wanting to work at.
  • Smaller candidate pool/less competition – It’s safe to say that there is actually less competition when you apply for roles in December. Many people who are currently employed (and eligible for a year end bonus) won’t be looking to leave their current company before that gets paid out. Also, because many people believe December is not optimal to look for a job, you’re competing against less candidates overall. Recruiters have a tougher time filling roles that are open which means they are more likely to answer a cold email or chat with someone with a less traditional background.
  • Jobs that are posted, are in fact open – If you see a job that’s posted in early December, there is likely a sense of urgency to fill it before the holidays. Another reason why you may be more likely to hear back.
  • More time to work on quality applications – Depending on what kind of commitments you have over the holiday season, you may have more days off than at other times during the year.  If your typical schedule is very demanding, the holiday lull could give you more time to devote to submitting high quality applications.

On the flip side, December can be a bad month to search for a job because…

  • There are less jobs open – There are generally less jobs open overall in the last few months of the year.  Most companies start aggressively recruiting for the year’s open roles in the first half of the year as soon as the budget is approved. While it’s impossible to hire all of the roles for the year right in January, generally the goal isn’t to hold off until December. That means there are just going to be less openings so if you are looking for something really specific, you may have to wait it out (many new jobs will pop up in January/February).
  • Slow time/vacation time for recruiters – Recruiters are people too, and they also take vacation days.  Thanksgiving and Christmas are ideal times to take these days since recruiting is generally slower.  That means it might take a little more time to get updates, hear back, and move through the process.
  • Upcoming vacations affect start dates/giving notice – If you do get a job offer in the month of December, you may have a pre-planned vacation to navigate around. Even when you get your offer, it could take longer to give notice and start.  Your pre-planned vacation is one hurdle but also keep in mind the days your current manager will be out.  That will affect how quickly you can give notice and transition.  It’s always okay to explain any of these types of time restrictions at the time of an offer and most recruiters/hiring managers will understand.

So there you have it – looking for a job in December can work to your advantage and also slow you down depending on your own circumstances.  I personally recommend continuing to put effort into your search and see what opportunities come up.  You never know what will come your way!