Is a holiday job search futile? Our experts weigh in. [TWEET]

Everyone has heard of the dreaded holiday hiring freeze – the period between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. Companies stop hiring and more often than not, actually decrease their job force. However, is this fact or fiction? Some career coaches believe the holidays are the perfect time to “shop for a job,” while others believe February is when your efforts will pay off most. Here are a few arguments from both sides of the fence.

Rush, rush, rush – it’s the holidays.

One common belief is that hiring managers stop hiring because they need to reconcile their end-of-the-year books. They push off hiring until January to save money before they close the books on the old year’s budget. It also is a popular belief that companies don’t want the hassle associated with onboarding a new employee during the busy schedule that accompanies end-of-year deadlines and holiday vacations.

Verdict: Fact – Several companies report they freeze hiring to save money and time during the busiest season of the year.

It’s easier to hire in the springtime.

Employees say companies prefer to put off hiring until the springtime because there are more applicants, a fresh pool of winter graduates are entering the marketplace, and more money is available. They point to spring job fairs and increased applications. Some employees even go as far to say the weather is more pleasant, and, therefore, hiring managers want to wait until the skies clear.

Verdict: Fiction – Springtime may bring more graduates and better weather. But winter and the end-of-the-year brings the “use them or lose them” policy at many corporations. Hiring managers either have to fill vacant positions before December 31 or lose the budget for those workers.

Temporary holiday hiring drives the year-end workforce.

The common belief is that companies use their hiring funds to bring in temporary workers for the sales, distribution, and manufacturing side of its business. Therefore, if the money goes to making money, there are no funds left to hire permanent workers. Each year, the media reports hiring hikes in the thousands; some have reported hundreds of thousands of new temporary workers. These workers receive no benefits, are paid minimum wage, and are not guaranteed a job for long.

Verdict: Fiction – Yes, companies hire hundreds of thousands of temporary workers to help fill the shelves with toys, food, and goods during the holiday shopping spree. And, yes, companies do care a great deal about its profit. These jobs were accounted for in the quarterly budget. They are a separate account of their own. Plus, several companies report retaining up to 25 percent of their temporary workers each year.

The applicants are missing.

Companies report hiring freezes during the holidays because qualified candidates are not in the job pool. Those who are eligible are either spending the vacation with family and friends, or they think there are no jobs available so they aren’t actively applying. Those companies report better chances during the spring when more eligible applicants are sending out resumes.

Verdict: Fact – Whether caused by the holiday pace or misconception about jobs, there are fewer qualified workers available during the holidays.

Is the holiday hiring freeze fact or fiction?

After looking at all of the evidence, the jury cannot decide. On one hand, temporary hiring speeds up tremendously during the holidays. Upwards of 100,000 temporary jobs are available at major corporations. On the other hand, there are fewer qualified candidates and no incentive for hiring managers to fill positions. The best advice for job seekers is to not give up during the holiday season. At the end of the day, there is nothing to lose.

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