Given the state of the economy and a rising unemployment level, I’m sure there are plenty of IT professionals out of work and looking, as well as those who are working and just thinking about making a change. I can’t do anything to address the urgency of the search for those currently unemployed, but to those folks and prospective job-seekers I have to observe that even in the best of economic times–which we are most assuredly not enjoying at the moment–the period from Thanksgiving through the first week of January is never a truly great time to look for IT work.
To a large extent,this phenomenon is a function of the way life’s focus tends to back off from work to other things during this time of year. To some extent, it reflects a disinterest in hiring new people and then having to give them several days of mandatory vacation time more or less right away. Then, too, many budget cycles end along with the calendar year, and IT departments have either used up their headcount or are saving it for next year’s budget. No matter how you decide to explain things to yourself, the odds of landing a good new job during this time of year are rather slimmer than usual.
For those who aren’t currently work but need some cash in hand, seasonal Christmas work may offer some temporary work and income. Although you may not relish the prospect of selling computer and electronics gear, a background in IT will make you better qualified to man a station at Best Buy, Circuit City, Office Depot, department stores, and so forth where they sell computers–and often, lots of them–over the holiday season. Though traditional IT jobs may not be jumping out of the woodwork, temporary IT jobs at companies that do lots of holiday business–such as ecommerce outfits, online retailers, seasonal food or drink providers, and so forth–can often provide work through the middle of January to those with both interest and the right qualifications. Try searching for “part-time IT” in your local job boards and newspapers (CraigsList can be a great source of information on such opportunities). With a little ingenuity, you can find something to do and keep the wolf from the door while whiling your way through the holiday season.
For all parties, working or not, I also recommend using this relative downtime to work your various social networks–friends, family, school chums, former and current job colleagues, professional groups and associations to which you belong, and so on–to get the word out. Let people know you’re looking, tell them what you’re looking for, and either give them or point them to a current resume and some kind of “statement of interest” and “statement of capabilities.” Let the former tell people what you’re interested in doing, and the latter tell them what you can do, what education and certifications you hold, and what kinds of professional accomplishments you can claim.
You can also use this time of year to search out companies and organizations for which you’d like to work. Spend some time on the Web and learn as much about them as you can, and try to get a sense of what kind of position(s) you might be ready, willing, and able to fill. The more you learn about your prospective targets, the better you’ll be able to present yourself when the time comes to make your pitch and apply for a position.
Don’t just sit around twiddling your thumbs, though. With a bit of down time at your disposal, the key is to use it to make yourself a better candidate when a valid opportunity does come along. Good luck, and happy holidays!