Why You Should Apply for Jobs Right Now

NEW YORK (MainStreet) — Anyone looking for work might assume fewer companies are hiring during the holidays as managers and human resources employees go on vacation, but in reality, the next few weeks may be the best time to land a position quickly.

“Most candidates think they should just wait and ramp up their job search in January, but this is really a great time to find a job,” says Carolyn Hughes, a vice president at the job search site SimplyHired.com. “There is an urgency on the employer side that happens at the end of the year which you don’t see at any other time of the year.”

The reason for this heightened sense of urgency to hire, according to Hughes and other experts, is that many managers are looking to fill whichever job openings they can as soon as possible for fear an unfilled position might simply be cut from the budget in the next fiscal year. In these situations, managers may feel they no longer have the luxury of a few extra days or weeks to make a decision. Either they fast-track hiring for the position or their department could be short-staffed for the foreseeable future.

Ordinarily, most employers hope to fill an open position within one to three months of when they post it, but at the end of the year that time can get chopped in half. Managers are eager to accept a candidate before the break around Christmas and ideally set a start date for right after the holidays.

“Imagine you’re a marketing manager and the company tells you there will be a hiring freeze in 2012. You have just a few weeks to fill an open position or you won’t be able to do it, so there is a rush to get someone on the books,” says Charles Purdy, a career expert with Monster.com.

At the same time, there are generally fewer candidates searching for jobs in December. SimplyHired, for example, estimates that its Web traffic is about 60% less in December than in January. In essence, it’s the perfect storm for job hunters: businesses are desperate to hire yet there is less competition for job openings.

The one downside is that there tend to be fewer jobs posted during the holiday season. According to Purdy, Monster’s Employment Index found that the number of job postings on corporate career sites and job boards suffered a “slight dip” of 3% between November and December of 2010.

“You may not see companies posting as many jobs, but looking for a job doesn’t necessarily mean looking only for those that have been posted,” Purdy says, emphasizing the need for job hunters to focus on promoting themselves and reaching out to managers at companies they’d like to work for. “Now is when many organizations are locking in their budgets for the coming year, so getting on a company’s radar makes sense.”

The formula for landing a job during the holidays is slightly different than throughout the rest of the year. Here’s what you need to know to score a new job for the new year.