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Job seekers can find success during holiday season, analysts say

SALT LAKE CITY — Until last month, Lindsay Arnett planned to continue her career in accounting with a Utah County construction company where she had worked for eight years.

Then “out of the blue,” Arnett's position was eliminated, and she found herself jobless right before Thanksgiving.

“The Friday before Thanksgiving they let me go,” said Arnett, 36, of Orem. “Obviously, it was a huge shock.”

She was given very little explanation for why she was let go, Arnett said, but the harsh reality was that she needed to figure out a way to regroup and land a new job sooner rather than later.

Finding herself on the unemployment line during the holiday season “was kind of scary,” Arnett said, but she has taken an optimistic approach to the situation by viewing it as “an opportunity to re-evaluate (career options) and try something new.”

After getting the bad news that Friday morning, Arnett began reaching out to contacts that afternoon for possible job leads.

“By (the following) Tuesday, I had already arranged two interviews,” she said.

Though she hasn’t found a new job yet, Arnett said she's reasonably confident she will find something relatively soon.

“My resume seems to be strong," she said, "and people have reached out, and I’ve gotten a lot of interviews."

Finding work during any time of the year can be challenging, but some job seekers become less motivated during the holidays, believing that potential employers are less likely to hire new workers. But some local hiring experts contend otherwise.

“It’s a misnomer,” said Jayson Nielsen, division director for Salt Lake City employment firm Accountemps. “It’s actually a really good time (to find a job).”

Nielsen suggests that instead of applying to every online job posting, contact the prospective employer via telephone.

“This time of year, hiring managers are more likely to pick up their phone … because their receptionist is on vacation or (human resources) is out and there isn’t anyone else to take your call,” he explained. “The ability to get ahold of a decision-maker is a lot easier. And they’ll talk to you.”

Having any interpersonal exchange can get candidates “a better sense” of what the employer is looking for in a potential employee, Nielsen said. He also recommended making a list of top companies or industries of interest and pursuing them diligently.

“Reach out directly to the hiring managers,” Nielsen said, also advising job seekers to utilize social media and work directly through the company website whenever possible.

“Employers, especially now, have a little more time on their hands," he said, "so if you do send a resume over, they are more likely to hop online and see what your Facebook page or LinkedIn profile says. So you want to make sure those things look really professional.”

Nielsen also suggested tailoring each resume “specifically for the job you're applying for.”

“Most people don’t," he said. "They just blast it out to a thousand different people. But you’ve got to tailor it to your audience.”

On a macroeconomic level, the nation added more than 16,000 jobs in temporary help services in November, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Approaching the end of the year, much of the focus on temporary jobs is on the retail sector, explained Katie Evans, public relations manager for Robert Half International, a human resource-consulting firm based in San Ramon, Calif., and parent company of Accountemps.

“At Robert Half, we are seeing demand for temporary professionals in a number of accounting and administrative support areas,” Evans said.

Private sector employment increased in all nine U.S. Census Bureau Divisions during November, according to the ADP Regional Employment Report that measures monthly changes in regional non-farm private employment on a seasonally adjusted basis.

While temporary retail hiring was expected to be slightly lower than last year nationally, according to a report from Chicago-based outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, November still represented the second highest one-month employment gain for the retail industry on record.

For those in need of employment assistance in Utah, the state has free resources available to anyone to help them devise a sound strategy to find their next job.

And the holidays are as good a time as any, said Heather Mousley, work success coach with the Utah Department of Workforce Services.

“That’s a nasty rumor,” Mousley said about the notion of a lack of hiring during the holidays.

“We prepare (candidates) with a career portfolio that includes mock interviewing and the latest techniques for job searching,” she said.

The department conducts a two- to four-week work success program in which candidates attend 40-hour-per-week seminars on finding employment.

“As a state, Utah has an 80 percent employment rate (through the program),” Mousley said.

Additionally, candidates are still finding full-time, permanent placements — even during the holiday season, she said.

“We get them from all (sectors), including retail, engineering and other professions,” Mousely said.

Currently, there are more than 4,700 job openings statewide across a wide array of career fields, she noted, meaning there are plenty of opportunities for candidates willing to take the time to pursue them.

“The majority of them are full time, from plumbers, painters, to forklift drivers and senior analysts — the whole gamut,” Mousley said. “The reality is that now is a great time (to look for a job).”


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