I'm honored to be a member of the Career Collective, a community of bloggers who share thoughts on a common topic. Up this month: Common misconceptions about the job search. You can read Mistletoe_2010all of my colleagues thoughts through the link below, here's my take on this theme.

There's a huge assumption that no hiring happens in companies between Thanksgiving and New Year's Eve. Some may think that when the tree in Rockefeller Center gets lit, the hiring game for the year is over.

But in reality, December may actually be the best time to get in the game--or increase your efforts. (In fact, last December, physicians offices increased hiring by over 9,000 positions.)

Here are three reasons why you may want to search for work instead of a kiss under the mistletoe:

1. Employers are still looking for hires in December. When I worked as a recruiter for a small company, I extended a job offer for a new Sales Manager on Christmas Eve. The reason: We needed someone who could start immediately in the New Year. Business needs don't go on the back burner because of holiday parties and merriment.

In fact, many organizations are especially motivated to hire in December--even more so than they will be in January. There's no set date for how organizations their fiscal years--a college may have a fiscal year that runs July 1 to June 30; other organizations have fiscal years that run from January 1 to December 31. Internally, there's frequently a "use it or lose it" mentality when it comes to spending and hiring. In other words, if someone gets permission to hire in December--they may have to hire in December, or they'll lose the funding for the job come January. This may sound silly, but it happens.

2. You'll have less competition. August is one of the most popular times to take a vacation, and September sees a huge bump in job applications; there's a perennial similar trend every December and January. Anticipate a great deal of New Year's job search resolutions from your peers and fellow applicants.

Apply when your fellow job seekers are taking a breather from the job search, and you have a better chance of standing out in the applicant pool. As one of my recruiting friends recently told me, "When I hire, I rarely go back to applications received after application deadline--or I've received a number of applications. I pick from the pool that I already have. I don't look back." (In other words, don't assume a job listed in December will be there in January.)

3. As almost any employment survey will tell you, networking and employee referrals are frequently a fast track to new opportunities--especially for non-entry level jobs. Offering to employ someone full time after only a few meetings is a big commitment--and many employers prefer to make an offer to someone who comes recommended by others.

Holiday parties are a natural place to make these connections. Or to make a call and reach out to someone you've always wanted to get to know--and ask for a coffee date. (After all, December can be a quiet time at some offices.)

So get out there, and make some new friends under that mistletoe. It may lead to your next opportunity or give you a fresh perspective.

And if you'd like to learn about a few other misconceptions before you start, here are thoughts from my colleagues: