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Dear Editor: I am very discouraged because I recently graduated from the Allen School and the economy is so bad and it’s the holiday season and I’m worried that nobody will be hiring. I am losing sleep over this. What advice do you have for me? Sleepless in New York Dear Sleepless in New York: Who’s been telling you Christmas stories? Before I get into the area of stories, legends, and fables associated with the holidays – and by that, I mean the biggest myth that no one hires during that time – let me address your concerns about the economy and how it impacts the health care field. According to the United States Department of Labor, health care jobs represent nearly half of the fastest growing jobs in the country. The medical industry does not slow down as a result of economic downturns. People get sick and go to doctors and hospitals no matter what the economy is doing. There are no shortages of jobs. There are, however, shortages of qualified people who can represent themselves effectively in a job search. In fact, research has shown that during times such as these, there is an upsurge in all types of stress-related illnesses due to financial concerns. These factors, in addition to the fact that we have an aging population and a nursing shortage, mean that the demand for support personnel, whether Medical Assistants, Certified Nursing Assistants, Billers and Coders, etc., is ever-increasing. Let me tell you the truth, Sleepless. There’s no such thing as… (no, I’m not going to say, “There’s no such things as Santa Claus!”). I am going to say that there’s no such thing as a shrinking of job opportunities over the holidays. That is a fairy tale. In reality, hiring in the health care field never takes a holiday. The industry always needs people and it may actually be possible that more job offers are received during the holiday season than others. Large facilities work on a budget and if they have money left over in the hiring budget, they usually try to spend it at the end of the year because if they don’t, they frequently lose it. Some facilities already know what their new budget looks like and they try to get a jump on it by lining up their new hires now. Also, many employees tender their resignation at the end of the year as they seek to start fresh somewhere else in the New Year, creating additional openings. Whether a facility is large or small, most hiring managers like to find candidates through referrals rather than through paid advertising as this saves dollars and time. This means that you actually do have a job this holiday season, Sleepless. Your current job is to network, adding that to your other job search outreach. As you make your rounds to holiday parties, family gatherings, social events, let everyone know that you are now a professional health care worker. While you spread the cheer, spread the word. You may be surprised to find out who your family, friends and their friends might know and what kind of hook up they can provide for you.