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Hiring managers say December is a great time to get a job

Putting your job hunt on the back burner until after New Year's? That could be a big mistake, according to some hiring managers.

With nearly 16 million Americans out of work and tending tirelessly to their job searches, some candidates may be ready for a little holiday break. But December could actually be the best time to reinvigorate your hunt, experts say.

Each industry has its own busy hiring times and business cycles, but certain times of year are particularly good for job hunting in every field, and right now is one of them.

"There is a certain pattern to when companies hire in general," said Rob Saam, a senior vice president at outplacement firm Lee Hecht Harrison."There is more hiring in January than December, but the thing about a job search is that it's a process so you should start looking before that," he said.

While job seekers typically believe that there's no sense in sending out résumés over the holidays when many people are on vacation, that may actually be the very best time to put yourself out there.

Yes, hiring happens over the holidays

December could even be the best time of year to start looking for a job, said Joanie Ruge, senior vice president at Adecco Group North America, a unit of the world's largest employment staffing firm. With an abundance of parties and events in the works, "it's a great time to be networking because most companies want to get people on board in January," she said.

"Job seekers shouldn't let the holidays slow their job search," added Carolyn Thompson, president of CMCS, a boutique staffing firm near Washington, D.C. "There are still the same number of jobs open, but actually less candidates looking because people are busy gearing up for the holidays."

Not only is there less competition, but many decisionmakers may be in a more relaxed mood and have more time on their hands as business slows. In December, many companies also review staff levels and plan budgets for the year ahead, so there may be money left in the budget to add new hires before the year end, experts said.

Best times by industry

Of course, if you're unemployed, you'll want to find a new job pronto, no matter what the calendar says.

But if you're currently working and aren't in a rush to find a new job, you can better your odds by focusing your search on the times when employers in your field typically gear up hiring, experts say.

Retailers, for example, do the bulk of their hiring ahead of the holiday season, in the months of November and December.

"Right now if you are trying to get your foot in the door with a retailer it's a great time of year because it's their busiest time," Ruge said.

Start with a seasonal job, even if it is a step down, Ruge advises, then try to turn that into a permanent position. "Retailers will look at their seasonal staff first" when it comes to hiring, she said.

Retail isn't the only industry hiring right now. Professionals who want to find a new job in finance or airlines typically also find more opportunities in December.

Finance in general "is absolutely cyclical," says Andrew Reina, practice director for job placement firm Ajilon Finance Solutions.

For companies that begin the fiscal year on Jan. 1, the end of the year can be a great time to score a financial analysis or financial reporting position. "More companies are looking at that fourth quarter as a good time to hire somebody," Reina said. Though the brokerage and hedge fund industries were decimated by last fall's market meltdown, increased scrutiny and stronger regulation spells new opportunity for job seekers this year, he said.

The availability of airline jobs also increases during the holiday season because it is the most popular and busy time for travelers, said Dion Lim, president and COO of job search site

Those aiming to get a leg up in healthcare may have better luck next month, said Pamela Thompson, chief executive officer of the American Organization of Nurse Executives.

"It is natural to expect hospitals to increase recruitment activities around May and January because of the timing of graduation dates at nursing and medical schools," she said. Job hunters should take advantage of the career development resources at schools or network at community events offered at hospitals. she said.

Tax pros in the spring, trainers in summer

Tax specialists are mostly hired in the busy months of February and March before the April 15 tax deadline. But employment ramps up again in the late summer because there are deadlines in September and October as well.

Teaching jobs have hiring spikes in March, November, December and September, in conjunction with the start or end of the school year or semester.

Personal trainers have a good chance of being hired in the summer months. Outdoorsy jobs, like gardening and landscaping, start to spike in March and are generally available through the summer months as well, said Lim at Simply Hired.

In general, job seekers should think about ramping up their job search a few months before an industry's busy season, said Sue Marks, chief executive officer of Pinstripe Talent in Milwaukee. "Think a quarter ahead," she advised.

By Jessica Dickler, staff writer
On 4:38 am EST, Friday December 4, 2009

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