Dear Matt: I’ve heard that companies basically stop hiring or really slow down during the holidays. Is this true?

Matt says: Wouldn’t it be great if we could find out how this myth got started? This couldn’t be further from the truth. Business doesn’t stop over the holiday season and if a company needs to hire, they are going to recruit, interview and hire. I’ve even talked to recruiters and hiring managers who have interviewed candidates on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve.

Don’t be fooled, ‘tis the season to still look for work, says Lori Freeman, president of Inside Talent ( a Twin Cities-based recruitment outsourcing firm for small to midsize companies.

“In my experience December is a very busy time for hiring, ” says Freeman. “With holiday travel and vacations there can be more challenges scheduling interviews, but if a company has a legitimate job opening that needs to be filled a holiday isn’t going to change that.”

Many companies also have an incentive to hire before the end of the year, because if they don’t that opening might be pulled off the table, says Freeman. What’s more, even if the hiring manager does have lengthy vacation plans over the holidays they may actually ramp up the interviewing and hiring process to complete this before they take time off.

“Doesn’t everyone want to start the New Year off with all their ducks in a row?” adds Freeman. “Hiring managers are no different.”

There are challenges with more people out of the office, so as a job seeker you must remain ultra flexible to meet the needs and demands of the employer. If they want you in for an interview, get in as soon as possible. A company may also post an ad late November or early December to start gathering applications. They then may start conducting phone interviews or setting up in-person interviews for shortly after the New Year, so now is not a time to stop looking.

Here’s another thing to consider: Use the busy holiday season theory to follow up with employers for jobs you have applied for.

“If you don’t receive a response then just reach out again after the first of the year, ” says Freeman. “It’s a great excuse for making a second contact and showing your interest and diligence.”

Others may still believe the hiring process stops in the coming weeks, so now is the opportunity to separate yourself from the competition. Let those with the “bah humbug” job search attitude fall behind, while you get the gift every job seeker wants — a new job.

“It’s human nature to procrastinate or find excuses for not taking action — but don’t, ” says Freeman. “Plenty of people will, but keep moving forward and often you’ll get ahead of the competition.”

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