If you are in the middle of a job search, the holidays can be a frustrating time as the process slows down or gets interrupted altogether. One of my recruiting clients is closed the week between Christmas and New Year, which effectively means decisions have to made this week or not for another three weeks or more. Another recruiting client is busy with year-end commitments and pushed all interviews out to the new year. On the candidate side, one of my front-runners finds out about a promotion in the next few weeks, which makes sense given it’s often annual performance review time. This means, she’s juggling whether to stay put or continue exploring with my client, with both options on an unknown timetable.
As a job seeker, you want to have multiple options in play, so having to manage different job search timetables is a good problem to have . The holidays make job search trickier as things slow down and people are harder to reach. If you are trying to wrap things up before year-end or you need to get a decision in order to get back to another prospect, here are four strategies to speed up a slow job search:
Use the phone, instead of email
If you send an email, you have to give the recipient a reasonable time to read it, but when you’re in a rush, you don’t have much time to wait. So go for a more immediate mode of communication, such as phone, or if you have texted before, try text now. With phone or text, you have a better chance to reach your target immediately and get a real-time update, as well as share your most updated status. You can also email first, especially if you have a number of items to explain, and then immediately follow up with a phone or text to let them know there is a time-sensitive email waiting.
Highlight the urgency
When you do get hold of your contact, explain your situation in detail, highlighting any deadlines, especially if you have a firm date for when you need to respond to an offer (or internal promotion). If you don’t have a specific offer, you should at least let your contact know what the timing looks like for other options – how far along you are in process for other jobs, when you expect to hear, if you expect to hear something before year-end.
Keep the dialogue productive
Highlighting the urgency encourages your contact to move things along. As a recruiter, I always reminded my candidates to keep me updated on their searches, especially if I knew my client was interested in them. I wouldn’t want to lose them just because we moved too slow. Many times, I have used news of an impending offer to light a fire under my clients to make a faster decision. So expressing urgency is good.
However, keep the dialogue productive. Give your contact time to respond, whether that means moving things along or letting you know that the timetable can’t be moved. Be careful not to sound like you’re issuing an ultimatum when you really don’t have an offer to decide on , or else the contact may call your bluff. Soften your requests by asking open-ended questions and reminding your contact of your genuine interest: “I have another company that has indicated they are moving me to the offer stage. I’m very interested in your company (if this is your first choice, say that!). Where are you in your process?”
Offer creative alternatives
If a key decision-maker is off for the holidays but in the area, see if you can meet where they are. I once coordinated an interview at a colleague’s home because she was on medical leave but still open to hosting interviews. This helped the search avoid a week-long delay. Also, don’t assume that the office completely shuts down over the holidays. If you’re around for the holidays and willing to meet, maybe enough of the key decision-makers are still around that you can continue the process. Or, if the office is closed, maybe people are willing to work remotely. Sometimes you have to get creative with location and timing to keep things moving. Don’t be afraid to propose alternatives – as a recruiter, I always appreciated when a candidate showed flexibility.
None of these strategies guarantee that you’ll wrap up your search by year-end. However, at least your search will keep moving, and you will have demonstrated your interest in the company. Once the new year rolls around, you can more quickly reinvigorate your job search since you have already established the urgency and can pick up where you left off.