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As students pack up and leave campus and grades get finalized, a long winter break might be just the reprieve you need. You’ve earned it after the whirlwind dash to the finish line. For those of you in a job search, you might be wondering if you should put it on pause for the holidays. Even if you’re between jobs, you might be looking for an excuse for a break from the slog. So, is the winter break a time for rest and recreation (R&R), or is totally ditching your job search for December and January a mistake? Are there really any jobs being posted? Is any interviewing or hiring happening? Let’s start with some numbers first.
While you might think there’s no use job searching in December since most colleges and universities are on winter break, historically, HigherEdJobs has only seen a marginal drop-off in job postings in December. In December 2021 and January 2022, over 35,000 jobs were posted to HigherEdJobs each month. For comparison, we post around 41,000 jobs per month on average.
On the flip side, generally, search committee and hiring activity tapers off at this time.
“After finals and before the holidays starts a kind of ‘black out’ period for a lot of work,” says Mark Coldren, associate vice president of human resources at the University at Buffalo. “This can usually last right through to the third week or so of January when the spring semester starts. There are courses offered sometimes over the breaks — many online or small workshop experiences — but by and large, it is a time where there is very low activity on a campus. Given all that, it is very predictable that there will not be a great deal of search committee activity, candidate screening, or on-campus interviews for open positions. Even staff roles seem to follow along with this.”
So, what does this dichotomy mean for job seekers?
There’s a case to be made that even if jobs are being posted, if the candidate screening and hiring process is on hold, you can safely resume your search in mid-January without missing your golden opportunity. However, that might result in a backlog of job applications to complete come January 15th or so. Rather than abandoning your search for weeks, a better strategy is to simply scale back. You should aim for a balance between R&R and productivity.
“One effective way to strike this balance is to set clear goals and priorities for your job search during this time,” advises Scott Winstead, founder and editor-in-chief of MyElearningWorld.com. “This can include identifying the types of positions you are interested in, researching potential employers, and networking with contacts in your field. By setting clear goals, you can stay focused and motivated during your job search, while also allowing yourself the time and space to recharge and relax.”
Your goals might include a certain number of job applications completed. Alternatively, why not set a small window of time to review job openings, prepare applications, and/or touch base with contacts who may benefit your job search? It should be a shorter timeframe than you generally allot to ensure you’re getting the much-deserved break over the holidays and able to spend time with family and friends, but enough time to prevent an overwhelming workload after winter break.
If the thought of applying for jobs over the holidays just isn’t sitting well with you, focus on other goals (perhaps less tedious) that will ultimately benefit your search.
“Keep in mind, that we have a broad definition of ‘job search,'” Mark Phillips of HireEducation reminds us. “The holidays are a great time to refresh contact with your network, to send holiday greetings, to check in about plans for the new year, to connect with mentors and mentees, etc. The nice thing about this kind of activity is that, because people are taking things a little bit easy (in terms of work, at least), you’re more likely to have a genuine, human interaction during the holidays than at other times of the year.”
The holidays were meant for connecting and networking. It’s the perfect time to send a holiday card or letter (wherein you can mention your search for a new position), set up informational interviews (at a time when work is slower and quieter for people you’d like to speak with), and take advantage of social events in your professional and personal realm that may be fruitful for networking. Be honest and upfront about where you are in your search. You may find someone who has a great contact for you to connect with.
In short, your job search might look different over winter break. It’s okay if you need to put it on pause to restore your energy (and maybe even sanity), but jobs are still being posted and opportunities abound for connecting with and expanding your network. If you can strike a balance, you could land that new job in the new year.
P.S. Now is also a great time to check your account settings on HigherEdJobs to ensure you’re receiving the right jobs in your Job Agent email, showing up in our resume database if you want to be, and on all your desired email distribution lists.
Disclaimer: HigherEdJobs encourages free discourse and expression of issues while striving for accurate presentation to our audience. A guest opinion serves as an avenue to address and explore important topics, for authors to impart their expertise to our higher education audience and to challenge readers to consider points of view that could be outside of their comfort zone. The viewpoints, beliefs, or opinions expressed in the above piece are those of the author(s) and don’t imply endorsement by HigherEdJobs.
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