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Job Seekers, Don't Take December Off, Experts Advise

Job Seekers, Don't Take December Off, Experts Advise

Mary Jacobs | Special Contributor to The Dallas Morning News

It may be almost time to hang up the Christmas stockings – but not the job search.

Resist that temptation. Smart job seekers will jump in first thing Monday with a clear plan of action for the next six weeks, experts say.

Following that strategy paid off for Katherine Smith – twice. She landed a job on Dec. 18, 2006. After that job ended, she vigorously pursued leads during December 2007 and landed her current position as sales executive for Paragon Innovations, an engineering firm, early in 2008.

“The budget may not be there to hire you until January or February, but if you stay at it during the month of December, you’ve built a relationship by that time,” she said.

Ms. Smith, who also leads a ministry called Career Jump-Start for job seekers at First United Methodist Church in Richardson, says that many people back off from job hunting efforts during the holidays.

“But if you go forward, you’re unique,” she said. “And to get noticed by an employer, you have to be unique.”

Although it’s tough out there, there are jobs to be found.

“I don’t know any big companies that are hiring 1,500 people right now,” said Paula Calise, principal of Calise & Co., a Dallas executive search firm. “But I do know of 1,500 companies that are hiring a few people.” Ms. Calise informally surveyed local executives in her network; most reported plans to hire in the next few months.

One of those companies is OsteoMed, a manufacturer of surgical devices based in Addison.

“We don’t slow down during the holidays at all,” said Walt Humann, OsteoMed’s chief executive. “The offer may not go out until after the holidays, but we’re working now so that we’ll be in a position to get new people online quickly.”

OsteoMed is growing rapidly, Mr. Humann says; plans are under way not only to hire for current needs, but also to find top people who become available during the downturn.

“It’s a great opportunity to assess the talent pool and take advantage of the opportunities,” he said.

The holiday season also presents once-a-year opportunities for job seekers. Busy executives may slow down a bit and give your résumé a second look. Many job seekers will find hiring managers’ “gatekeepers” in a more generous and festive spirit.