By Caroline M.L. Potter, Yahoo! HotJobs
While you're making your holiday shopping list (and checking it twice), make sure you start looking for what you really need: a new job.
Conventional wisdom may say that the fourth quarter isn't an ideal time to find work -- but conventional wisdom is wrong, according to job-market expert Janet White. "In my opinion, there is no such thing as an ideal time to job hunt or not job hunt," she says.
Companies are still hiring, and their decision-makers are still on the job in November and December. "Big business doesn't slow down anymore," says John Challenger, CEO of outplacement consulting firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas. "In kinder, gentler days, things may have eased up between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day, but not today."
White can confirm this firsthand. "Last year, I was laid off one week before Christmas, and I had another job offer within 18 hours," she says.
Forget the Economy
It's hard to ignore the news of a troubled economy, and it's easy to feel defeated before you even begin searching for work. "At any given time, regardless of what the economy is doing, of the time of year it is, of what the Fed or the headlines say, there will be companies that are thriving and others that are not," White says.
Avoid looking at the job market or a particular industry as a whole. "You can't make generalizations," White advises. "Instead, just look for the companies that are doing well -- the ones that are expanding and buying up the assets of failing companies."
Focus on Your Attitude
It sounds simple enough, but while looking for a job, you have to project a positive attitude, even if you've recently lost a job. "If you're mired in negativity, nobody will hire you," White says. "If you believe all the negative news and really take it to heart that it's tough out there, I guarantee you will have a hard time. Conversely, if you believe we live in an abundant universe with enough possibilities for everyone, you'll find opportunity."
If you're having a tough time accentuating the positive, try focusing on the good things in your life -- be it family, friends, unemployment benefits or food on your table. "It's hard to be negative when you're feeling grateful," White says.
Look Beyond the Job Listings
While you should use the ads posted on Monster every day to search for work, you should also feel empowered to approach potential employers independently -- especially if you think they're in need of your skills. "If you realize that the only reason someone hires you is because you can solve a problem, you'll realize there are countless opportunities for you," White says.
In fact, White's 18-hour job search ended when she sought out a company she believed needed someone with her skill set. Before clearing out her desk at her former job, White says, "I sent an email with the passing thought that, given their circumstances, if anyone could use me to help them build their business, it would be them." The next morning, the president of that organization called to begin creating a position for her.
As you search for work -- this holiday season or any time -- remember to remain positive. "Anything you focus on or believe to be true will become your experience, like it or not and whether you want it or not," White says.