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Holly-Jolly Job Hunt

There are good reasons to look for a job during the holidays.
Conventional wisdom says that unless you're in retail or another hopping holiday sector, the weeks leading up to Christmas and New Year's aren't the best time to look for a new job. But the wisest course of action might be to throw that so-called wisdom out the window.

It's true that many companies hold off hiring staff--including IT people--during the holidays because human-resources and other managers are out of the office or on vacation, says Jim Lanzalotto, VP of strategy and marketing for professional IT staffing and outsourcing firm Yoh Services LLC.

However, "there's always a manager around who has to be there and could very well be looking for talent," he says. Getting the attention of that person--especially when things are quiet around the office--can be a great idea, he says. That includes getting on managers' radar screens by sending electronic or traditional resumés, or picking up the telephone.

Also, budget plans that were being hammered out toward the end of the year are more solid now, and the New Year often shepherds in funding for new positions, he says. Getting in at the front of the line of job applicants can give candidates a leg up, Lanzalotto says.

As for the holidays themselves, there are IT job opportunities that often start out as temporary positions but can lead to permanent work, he says. A recent Forrester Research report estimated that online retail sales will grow 25% this year, reaching $18 billion.

Companies that depend heavily on holiday-season E-commerce have been getting their staffs and technology ready for months; however, mishaps, turnover, and other unexpected circumstances can create last-minute job vacancies that need to be filled as soon as possible. Under those circumstances, the people that employers are looking for are "like Santa's elves, they're needed to keep everything running during these very crucial sales times," he says.

And there are potential long-term effects from taking a job now. Says Lanzalotto, "These Santa elves can end up being company heroes."