5 Reasons You Should Start Your 2012 Job Hunt Today

VIDEO: The nationwide retail giants blame poor holiday sales for the closings.

My friend Tim was laid off in mid-December. The week before Christmas, Delia, another friend, learned her hours were getting slashed by 25 percent. Neither delayed in jump-starting the job hunt. After the requisite evening of cheap beer and self-pity, both got on the stick the next day.

Some might say they're crazy, that the business world grinds to a halt between late December and early January. But I say they're smart. If you're going to need a new job in 2012, now's the time to start looking. Here's why.

Your competition is MIA.

Many of your fellow job seekers are still holed up with family, gorging on leftover turkey and pie. Others are distracted by the current onslaught of clearance sales. With less of a crowd clamoring for the attention of recruiters and hiring managers, now's your chance to float easily to the top of the resume pile.

Interviewers have more time on their hands.

Recruiters and managers in the office this week have fewer pressing deadlines and meetings on their calendars. Many are looking for something more interesting to do than clean out their inboxes. Your meeting request or Linkedin introduction could be just the thing that saves them from a morning of pretending to look busy.

"It's a really great time to reach out to recruiters, especially for people who are trying to do more networking," said Kristen Fife, a senior recruiter at RealNetworks, a Seattle technology company. "We're slow, and we're gearing up for the next quarter or the new fiscal year when a lot of things jump-start."

Interviewers are more loose-lipped.

Vacationing executives are well out of earshot. Offices are peppered with booze left over from holiday parties. Between in-laws who've overstayed their welcome and New Year's Eve plans (or, if you're reading this in January, hangovers), no one in the office can concentrate on work. Instead, everyone's guard is down. If ever there was an opportunity to get the inside story on what it's really like to work for the company, this is it.

The employer's need is urgent.

If you hear of a freshly opened position this time of year, you can bet the employer is looking to fill it quickly. Otherwise, they'd concern themselves with more pressing year-end activities, like college football.

New positions are on the horizon.

Hiring managers have already begun looking at their budgets for their new calendar year, Fife said. As a result, they'll start opening up new positions for 2012 any day now, if they haven't already. Likewise, Fife adds, many companies pay annual bonuses in January, which means there's often a fair amount of turnover at the start of the year, thanks to disgruntled employees who cut bait after receiving their bonuses.

Moral of the story: Get on the radar of recruiters and hiring managers at companies you're interested in today. With luck and perseverance, you could be someone they call in January to interview for a new position opening up.

This work is the opinion of the columnist, and in no way reflects the opinion of ABC News.

Michelle Goodman is a freelance writer and former cubicle dweller. Her books include My So-Called Freelance Life: How to Survive and Thrive as a Creative Professional for Hire and The Anti 9-to-5 Guide: Practical Career Advice for Women Who Think Outside the Cube. Follow her at @anti9to5guide.

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