By Kourtney Whitehead – Forbes
It’s difficult to predict how long your job search will be. Economic trends are mixed, but employer hiring is still going strong. According to the recent Labor Department report, the U.S. economy added 128,000 jobs in October and unemployment is close to a 50-year low.
These figures might lead you to believe that your job search should be quick and easy. But the reality for most people is that finding a better paying or more fulfilling job requires significant effort.
The time of year will also impact your search. Just like the weather, each month of a job search will present you with new and different conditions. Some months will provide you with a mild, calm and favorable environment, while others are much harder to endure.
If you are launching or continuing a job search in the month of November, here’s what you need to know to be prepared for the changes that lie ahead.
1. It will start strong, but end slow
I won’t sugarcoat it: November is a difficult month to start a job search. The bulk of fall hiring happens in September and October and the slowest month of the year is coming up in December.
For those already knee-deep in a job search, November is a good time to continue and even finish your search. Candidates in the U.S. can expect this November to remain quite active for most of the month because, in 2019, the Thanksgiving holiday will fall on November 28, which is the latest date possible. This leaves much of the month undisturbed and three full weeks open to schedule interviews and prepare offers. Just know that the last week of November will be dead quiet and nothing will get done.
For other geographies, you can keep up your pace all month. Things will get much slower in December, but November should stay steady.
Now, if you are considering launching a new search and have any choice in the matter, you should wait and start in January. Use the months of November and December to get your résumé and interview skills in order and network heavily at holiday events.
If you must start a job search this month, don’t let this news scare you too much. You can indeed start to get some traction in November; you just need to be emotionally prepared for a job market that is slowing down just as you start ramping up.
The good news is that you only need one job, not thousands. With any luck, it is possible to find an opening that wants to start and finish the process quickly or a hiring need that is too important for the company to let the December slowdown defer them. Work hard and stay optimistic, but also try to be reasonable in your expectations.
2. You’re more likely to make a bad decision
For all the reasons stated above, November tends to bring with it time pressures and a heightened sense of anxiety among job seekers. Looking for a new job is emotionally taxing for everyone and the prospect of possibly dragging out your search into the next year can stir panic.
It’s at this time of year especially that you need to stay connected to your own intrinsic value and to the things you need from a work environment. Make sure you aren’t becoming so intent on ending the pain that you are actually setting yourself up in a job you’ll regret taking.
Don’t agree to a long commute if you’ve tried that before and it left you miserable after a few months. Don’t overlook a dismissive or less than engaged hiring process because it almost certainly speaks to how that company treats its people.
Continue to ask probing interview questions and pay attention to the red flags that come up. As hard as it can be to endure a long job search, it is worse to find yourself quickly having to do it all over again.
3. You need a backup plan
As you get deeper into November, you want to start planning for the possibility of a job search that may stretch into 2020. You aren’t giving up hope of finding a job sooner, but you need to be thoughtful about how the next six to eight weeks will impact your finances and emotional state.
If you are out of work and have a serious financial concern about extending your search, obviously that needs your attention first. There are no perfect solutions, but start putting together a plan now to reduce expenses and possibly find other short-term sources of income.
However, if you’re still employed, receiving severance or comfortably positioned with your emergency savings, this is the time to plan what you’ll do to switch your energy for the next month or two from your job search to your personal development and self-care.
Are there activities you feel guilty about doing because you think you should be spending all your time on your job search? If so, now is the time to reintroduce them into your life. Do you want to start a new hobby or read your favorite book again? Are there skills you want to learn? Do you want to do something unique this holiday season?
No matter what you come up with, the important thing is to have a plan that you are actually looking forward to. Start brainstorming now, whether you end up needing it or not. It’s always a useful exercise to see what you’d want to do with your time if you weren’t so busy stressing about finding or doing a job.