Conducting a job search over the holidays…good idea or waste of time?

This question is unofficially raised this time of year. Despite the fact that you are going to wait until the last minute before implementing that new years' resolution, should you even bother starting your job search during the holidays.

Actually, you can use this time to your benefit. You have time off to work on your resume. You correspond with your network via parties and cards. Many companies' fiscal years are drawing to close and you could be getting a sense of funding that may or may not impact your project/group/role. There are articles out there that talk about searching during the holidays...

here on Yahoo!

here on

here from Lee Hecht Harrison (major outplacement firm)

here from Drake Beam Morin (another major outplacement firm)

December is a quiet time for us in recruiting here at Microsoft. Many folks take time off (like the whole month). Because recruiters spend at least part of the month in the office, you have a good chance of getting their attention (they are less likely to be distracted with hiring manager demands). This is fiscal mid-year for us, so we aren't experiencing the rush to fill the final remaining positions at this time. Mid January things will start to heat up for us here.

My tips for holiday job seeking:

1) use this quiet time to take stock and update your resume

2) set up your online job search strategy

3) network

4) make contact with recruiters from your top companies


Comments (8)

  1. Bob Nelson says:

    Hi Heather,

    Just curious… I am a Marketing Professional with extensive experience in marketing high-tech and consumer products. Over the years I have submitted my resume for a number of positions with Microsoft that I believed that I was more than qualified to fill. However, I have never recieved a nibble. I know that my skills and experience would allow me to make a solid contribution to Microsoft. I am hoping that you can tell me what I am doing wrong. My resume and additional information relative to my background and experience is available on my personal website at

    Thanks in advance for your help,

    Bob Nelson

    19305 90th Ave. NE

    Bothell, WA 98011


  2. Russ Moon says:

    I personally think it is time for full steam ahead.

    Why ?

    1. Many companies are throttling down, you may have less competition in terms of volume of resumes to read.

    2. You might be able to speak with a human being, if their phone isn’t ringing off the hool.

    3. You build your momentum so that when the New Year kicks off while everyone else is "starting their engine" you are already in warp drive, pre-positioned for the jobs those people haven’t identfied yet as existing OR being filled. Make it happen vs saying "What happened ?"

    4. The holidays provide a built in sincere reason to work your network. I’m not saying pop up with a "Hi, Happy holidays etc. where’s my job?" but certainly you could sincerely and honestly communicate that you desire to build a better professional relationship in the coming year. When those people hear from you again you should have created yourself a little momentum.

    5. Most people are in a receptive & happy holiday mood. Sounds like a good time to interact.

  3. Heather says:

    Hi Bob,

    The standard answer is that we would only call if we found a role that we feel matches your background. So basically, if you haven’t gotten a call, it means we haven’t found anything that we feel is a fit (by we I mean the individual recruiters working on the specific positions). Now, I know that isn’t necessarily an answer that makes anyone feel better about not getting a call.

    It isn’t really a matter of doing anything "wrong" per se. It’ just that each role comes with a list of experience, skills and attributes that we are looking for in a candidate. At the end of the day, your resume competes with other resumes for the attention of the recruiters. If someone else is a better match, they are the ones getting a call. It’s not a reflection on the quality of your background. It’s more about fit with roles we have open.

    Things that we look for are industry expertise (in software marketing), scope of work (this could be revenue or installed base), domain experience, functional expertise (type of marketing..inbound versus outbound, etc.). We also look at education, career progression, what we know about the companies you have worked for, lots of other things. All of those things combined help us identify the folks that we call for particular roles.

    I wouldn’t want to discourage you or anyone. On the other hand, I don’t want to set unrealistic expectations. Recruiters diligently search our database. So if a role came open that appeared to be a good match for your background (per the recruiter), you would get the call.

    So I don’t know that there’s any one thing I would recommend you change about your resume or anything like that. I know that telling people to "be patient" is ridiculous. But I do promise that if we find something that matches your background, we will call.

    I hope that helps a little ; )

  4. Scott Pillar says:

    I think it is a great time to look for positions. From someone who has been on both sides of the coin, recruiters are less busy right now and often use this time for catch up and, as a job seeker, you often have more time to really target a search.


  5. Jim Stroud says:

    Thanks for posting this article. I believe my readers will appreciate reading it.

  6. Questor says:

    When it comes to looking at companies one has worked at, I often wonder, what if someone who has initiative and determination has for whatever reason decided that his past companies really don’t reflect who they are any more?

    I often wonder why the recruiting industry has this outright disgust towards active candidates who want to improve themselves, especially those who have decided their past no longer fits them.

    Additionally, what about those people who got lucky? I’m thinking about those who got into top name companies through means other than raw talent, e.g., via a merger. Their resumes show them as top performers, yet the reality was that they knew enough politics and manipulation to make themselves look good at other people’s expense. They were far more skilled in navigating around the system than actual job competence. Meanwhile, diamonds in the rough who have tremendous potential are overlooked.

    In a world that we hear we’re in ever faster change, I don’t understand why we insist that a person must be judged so much by his past. This is especially true when conducting reference checks. The manager who knew me 5 years ago who said some area needed improvement may not know about the manager who said that same area was my biggest asset, yet a previous manager who doesn’t know how I’ve progressed is held supreme.

    And as you’ve probably guessed, I detest behavioral interviews, esp. when storytellers can falsify their pasts. When is recruiting going to focus on person’s talents in the present?

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