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The Winter Job Hunt

"The Winter Job Hunt

Jobseekers may find a warm reception in colder months.

By Robin Lord

While it may be tempting to dive back under the covers and grab a little more sleep on these cold, dark days of winter, getting up and trudging through the snow to those job interviews may be worth your while. The early winter months are often the best time to look for a new job, according to several business recruiters in Boston, New York City, and Washington, DC.

"The holidays are over, new budgets are in, bonuses are up and given, vacations are over, and everybody's getting back into the swing," says Todd Wayne, president of Jessilyn Personnel in New York City. Wayne, who specializes in setting up fashion runway shows, finds that his business really heats up in January and February--and new staffers are always needed.

New Budgets, New Hires
Many companies hire people on a freelance basis at the end of the year, due to stretched budgets and uncertain year-end figures. But, once the New Year rolls around, new budgets are approved and firms can reassess where they are going. Freelance staff personnel often go permanent at this time of year, according to Wayne.

While every day is a great day to look for a job in Mark Flaherty's mind, the first quarter is known in the recruiting business as one of the best. "The beginning of the year is very active," says the Boston-based job placement specialist. "Especially in the Northeast, people look at January through April as the hardest working quarter." In these months, he adds, companies understand last year's performance and know where they want to fill in. This is the time when the impression you made in that interview last year may pay off, when supervisors are hiring new staff.

January and February are certainly the best months to look for work in Washington, DC, according to Lisa Stumps of Prime Placements. "There is a Mega Help Wanted section in the Washington Post at this time of the year," she said, noting how the abundance of ads reflects the increased level of activity in the job market. Though 2000 proved to be a good year throughout, Stumps and her capital area colleagues are still gearing up for the rush of this season.

New Year, New Look
Flaherty, who deals mainly with finance companies, thinks that 2001 has already brought a new look to the industry. The failure of several dot-coms has proven that "old economy" businesses, like financial firms, are great places to seek jobs after all. By mid-April of last year, he says, "the playing field was very unrealistic" because so many entrepreneurs were dizzy with the thought of the get-rich-quick promise of Web-based companies. "A lot of people lost in that, but the other industries never missed a beat. It's okay because it weeds out the flash-in-the-pan companies."

Flaherty believes that people who've lost gigs at dot-coms have an edge. Corporations have come to admire the entrepreneurial spirit that dot-coms nurtured. "Five years ago it was almost a black mark," he says, "and now [working at a dot-com] is almost a badge of honor."

No Energy Crunch for Recruiters
According to Gail Kaplan, president of Kaplan and Jass in Boston, recruiters--like many of us--have a burst of energy after the holidays. "The biggest advantage to looking for a job in the winter," Kaplan says, "is that interviews are easier to schedule." Holiday vacations are over and the next round of trips and time off hasn't started. In the vacation-laden summer, she said, it can take months to schedule an interview with the right person.

Kaplan's specialty is recruiting lawyers, who also seem to have a special edge in the early months of the year. Generally, law firms understand that it takes a while for a new attorney to gather his or her client base. Hiring someone during the first quarter gives him the chance to show a profit by year's end.

New Homes for December's Children
According to Sue Morash, a recruiter with Boston-based Kennison and Associates, recruiters call winter jobseekers "December's Children." The term derives from the fact that people tend to wait for year-end bonuses in December, then hit the job seeking trail in January. Recruiters everywhere are aware of this phenomenon and often arrange their calendars to accommodate the rush, she notes.

So, if you are about to become one of December's Children, many recruiters are ready and willing to bring you in from the cold."

<Note from JobFairy.com: We've found that things are slow in the winter months. Not dead, just slow. Mid-March to the beginning of June is the best time of all to look. The second big rush is from a little before Halloween until Thanksgiving. After that, you're generally replacing people who left after they got their bonus, or know they're not going to get one and are jumping ship. The kinds of jobs that I get at the end of Q3 or in Q4 tend to be jobs that don't last long term. The ones where I get hired in Q2 tend to be the ones with the most longevity and sanity to them, as they are more carefully planned. Companies hire all year long, so it never pays to delay your search.>

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