Expect your job hunt to come to a standstill over the holidays? Rev it up instead, and you’ll benefit big-time in the New Year.
‘Tis the season for parties and lighter spirits, but don’t let the relaxed pace of the holidays distract you from your job search. In fact, there are ways to use this time of year to your advantage. ( to Tweet this thought.)
And why not? Many companies continue interviewing and making hiring decisions during the holidays to hit the ground running in the quickly approaching new year.
So use this time wisely to further develop, nurture and and personal connections. Here are six ways to keep yourself focused and capitalize on some timely opportunities:
Send holiday or New Year’s cards
You may think nothing of doing this for friends and family, but don’t forget to reach out to peers, former colleagues and alumni networks with whom you’ve stayed in touch over your career.
Keep the card professional in look and tone and include a personal comment where appropriate. This isn’t the place for shots of you enjoying a margarita on your summer beach vacation or a silly picture of yourself in a Santa hat with your dog. Nor is a holiday card the place to make “the ask” regarding a new job. It’s simply a friendly gesture that may spark someone to consider you for an opportunity or open the door to this discussion later.
Fill your calendar with peppermint latte meetings
The holidays can be a double-edged sword for job seekers. Some of your contacts will have more relaxed schedules, while others will be overwhelmed with work and family commitments. You probably fall somewhere in the middle of that spectrum. Be mildly persistent and meet with as many contacts as you can. If you’re given the “it’s too busy right now” holiday response, set a date on the calendar in January.
Volunteer your time
You’ll find many opportunities to support nonprofit organizations during the holidays. And while helping others is a goal in itself, this is also your chance to meet other professionals.
From an employer or hiring manager’s perspective, your heart for service and your initiative to dedicate your time during lulls in your schedule will be noticed. If you have specific skills, say in accounting or legal counsel, look for ways to provide valuable and timely year-end support to nonprofits. are also a relatively low-risk way to try out a new skill and expand your capabilities.
Use holiday parties to network (rather than hiding out in the corner)
Office and personal holiday parties are one of the best ways to nurture your contacts and make new ones. Not working for a company large enough to have their own party? Ask a connected friend to be their plus-one for their work party obligations.
Your industry’s professional association party is also a great place to meet people at all ends of the career spectrum and can provide ready access to more senior professionals who could become a mentor or boss one day. These parties are not the time to hand out your resume, but be prepared with business cards if the opportunity presents itself.
Keep things light and fitting with the season
Don’t focus too much on at parties and networking meetings; instead, keep conversations casual and reflective of the occasion. The holiday subject itself is a great way to get to know someone on a more personal level and possibly find things in common outside of your careers. Ask about family traditions or favorite recipes for holiday meals. Make your interaction memorable by letting your personality shine and avoiding too much shop talk, but still come prepared with a short pitch on your career goals if asked.
Stay active and plan ahead
Don’t let the holidays be an easy excuse to put things on hold. Continue to post on your LinkedIn or Twitter feeds, keep up with emails and correspondence and make an effort to connect with contemporaries. Set aside time to reflect on everything you’ve accomplished over the past year and your goals for the upcoming one. Think about how you can be a better networker, colleague and employee. Write down your goals to keep yourself accountable throughout the year.
Once the season comes to a close, reach out to the contacts you made over the holidays via email or LinkedIn and set up a time to meet over coffee or lunch to further explore opportunities. The best gift you can give yourself is the confidence of knowing you made great strides in your job search and set yourself up in the best possible way to kick off the new year. Happy holidays!
is president and CEO of 3P Staffing, a national staffing firm that specializes in placing information technology professionals for contract, contract-to-hire and direct hire placements. More information may be found at or on .