I have been looking for a job for the past 5 months and I decided to go home for xmas since i was not getting any luck. I will be away for a month, and will come back Monday January 13th. I just received several calls for some job interviews saying I should start as soon as possible. In my understanding few companies hire during december. Will I have to cancel my vacation ? If i am selected how can i negotiate the start date with my employer ? The jobs are marketing related like account coordinator, market analyst, product manager etc.
ASAP can mean anything from 'we need you in the office the day you interview' to 'we won't wait for a 3 month notice period to finish with your previous employer'. The only way to know is to ask the companies that are interviewing. Some may be okay with a start date in late January, some may not. Ask, decide based on the information you get, live with the decision.
You can send a simple e-mail to the recruiter saying:
I am planning on taking a vacation from December 20th to January 13th and will not be available for in person interviews or to start the job until after January 13th. Could you ask the companies when they plan to hold the interviews, and if successful when they would want me to start so I can determine whether to cancel my vacation? Thanks in advance.
What the recruiter means when he or she says 'ASAP' is that he or she wants to receive the commission ASAP. They have every reason to play up the urgency of the position they are submitting you for and no reasons to delay it. They don't want to lend you time to look at other opportunities, or to have some other recruiter snatch you away. The 'ASAP' thing might be true, or it might just be a sales tactic. Just like with any other negotiation, you may never know, and the only way to be in a better position is to know more about the market.
That being said, in my experience, a lot of large companies do not hire in December. The reason is that a lot of the decision making people go on vacation, and it is hard to approve budgets for positions and line up interviews.