Four Things to do When No One is Hiring

With the arrival of the holiday season, we often see a dip in hiring. This is completely normal and common across industries. Most offices spend the last 5-6 weeks of the calendar year wrapping up projects and balancing vacation schedules. Even if there are open positions, chances are good that they won’t be acted upon until after January 2. Job seekers find this particularly frustrating, especially if their “new year, new me” plan involves a new job. If you’re in this boat, here are things you can do now to prepare for the post-holiday job hunt.

Network at Holiday Parties

In-person networking is one of the most effective job search tactics because it’s way easier for you to convey your passion and drive for a particular position in person. LinkedIn and cold emails are good, but nothing beats the on-on-one interactions. The holiday season is a great time to do this type of networking because it is also holiday party season. Instead of dreading such gatherings (or avoiding them altogether), use them as a way to connect with people who you can then reach out to when hiring starts up. To widen your network, accompany friends, relatives, and significant others to their parties. Most people are happily looking for a plus-one for such events, so this shouldn’t be too much of a challenge!

Use the awkward small talk inherent at such events to your advantage and steer the conversations towards the thing that you’re looking to do. At most work-related events, the icebreaker is always either “What do you do” or “Where do you work.” Run with these openings! Even if the person you’re talking to isn’t in that position, chances are good that they know someone who is.

Conduct Informational Interviews

Informational interviews are opportunities for you to gather information on an individual’s career path. People conduct such interviews as a way to both learn more about a role that they’re interested in and make (or deepen) a connection for the future. In order for them to be a productive use if your time, the person that you interview should be someone in a position that you want and are actively trying to attain. This way, you can justify the meeting, have relevant and informed topics to discuss, and be able to call upon that person in the near future for potential openings in their department.

You definitely need to do some research and prepare before conducting an informational interview because, as with other types of interviewing, you don’t want to waste your participant’s time. Asking things like “What do you do” or “What is your role” are not appropriate because they are far too basic for such a meeting. Instead, person-specific questions about professional experiences and education are a much better approach. Prepare your questions with as much care as you would the post-interview questions for a job.

Use the alumni portal on LinkedIn and personal contacts to find people with whom you’d like to conduct informational interviews. (You can also use people you meet at holiday parties!)

Prepare for Upcoming Interviews

While we’re on the topic of interviews, you should definitely take the time to prepare for the ones that you’ll get once hiring picks up again. Some job seekers think this is jinxing themselves, but I think it’s an expression of confidence. If you’re on a job search and you believe that you’ll get hired somewhere, why not prepare for something that you know is a step in the process? It’s a great use of time and can be done broadly enough to cover a host of positions that you might be asked to interview for.

I’ve written at length about how to prepare for interviews, so read the posts from the Interviewing with Confidence series and download the worksheet bundle to get going.

Want an IRL version of this material? I made it into a workbook that you can get on Amazon!

Apply to Jobs

Even though you know that you probably won’t get called an interview any time soon, you should still apply for jobs that you’re interested in. Don’t let the lack of response stop you! In fact, knowing that the response time will be longer should calm your nerves since you won’t have to deal with the rest of the process for a few weeks. (Knowledge is power, right?) Apply for things, do the appropriate follow up, and keep it moving. Get your apple cider on! Don’t stress about not hearing anything since the people in charge of hiring are likely doing the exact same thing you should be doing – enjoying the holidays.

(And, of course, you can everything in this post: 10 Steps for Effective Job Search Prep!)

Just because your industry isn’t hiring right now doesn’t mean that you can’t get a move on your job search. By using this time wisely, you can maximize your efforts while minimizing the time you actually spend on the job market. As I always say, the best job search is a short job search, so get on it!


Dr. Lindsay is career development & academic success coach who loves helping people figure out and proceed to the next levels of their lives.