Question: “Do companies actually hire during December and the holiday season, or is it best to pull back on my job search and wait until the New Year?”

Just as I started to write this response, I glanced out of my office window and noticed that the first snow of the season had started to fall in Bellevue — which means it’s probably time to address the perennial question I get asked by dozens of clients.  Does it make sense or not to continue an active job search throughout the holiday season, or is it a big waste of time?

The short answer, which hasn’t changed for over a decade, is “yes”.  Without question, December is a strong hiring month and serious job seekers shouldn’t throttle back on their search efforts at all unless they’re willing to miss some outstanding potential opportunities.  Not only do companies continue to add staff aggressively throughout the winter months, and not just for seasonal positions, but they’re also scouting out talent for the upcoming year when fresh hiring budgets become available.  Last year, in fact, I distinctly remember helping somebody negotiate an offer on Christmas Eve, which I felt was somewhat sad from a societal perspective, but a legitimate testimonial to the year-round nature of business these days and the fact that capitalism doesn’t slow down much anymore for Santa’s sled.

So if you’re looking for a legitimate economic excuse to postpone your job hunt until 2006, I’m afraid I can’t give you one.  The hiring market continues to clip along at a brisk pace, and one of my colleagues in the recruiting world told me recently that her firm has historically placed more candidates in December than in October and November combined!  At the same time, however, we must never forget that there are a number of things in life that are equally or more important than one’s career.  If you’re feeling the need to relax and recharge, and to spend some uninterrupted quality time with your family during the holidays, there’s nothing wrong with giving yourself permission to dial down your search efforts to a bare minimum.  Just make sure you do this consciously, and for the right reasons, instead of trying to rationalize it around the fallacy that no hiring takes place in December.  By doing so, you’ll feel a lot less guilty and will enjoy your “break” an awful lot more!