How to Make the Most Out of December Downtime to Ramp Up Your Job Search

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, or so they say. All is calm, all is bright and definitely merry. Well, just because it’s the end of the year and schedules at the office may be lighter amid frolic and revelry, that doesn’t mean you should completely check out with your job-search aspirations. In fact, it’s time to ramp it up!

For starters, think of it this way: Jobs may very well be going, going, gone by the end of December. When I worked in recruiting, the mentality from the financial department, which approved all job requisitions was this: if you don’t use it, you lose it.

And with many companies leveraging the end of the calendar year as their fiscal year end, if positions remain open past December, the financial professionals internally may think, “If the job has been open for several months and it’s still open, then the department is functioning fine without additional headcount. We need to remove this opening.”

Here are several ways to make the most out of December to ramp up your job search.

Apply now. No, really – today. Recruiters need to find you and they’re trying to find you feverishly. Not only that, they need to find you. The only issue? They don’t have enough resumes, which definitely bodes well for you. Since there are fewer resumes to review, this gives you a leg up on the competition, which will certainly be fierce in January when many people decide to jump-start their search. Get ahead of them by applying to jobs right now. (It’s not unlike a new gym membership. Go to the gym now and you can probably select which treadmill to run on. Go in January? Wait in line.)

Identify places to network. Considering this is the time of year for holiday parties, spend 20 minutes online, because that’s all you’ll need (and in many cases, it won’t even take that long) to research holiday parties within your geographic region and industry. Professional organizations often have holiday parties this time of year so don’t be shy. Even if you don’t know anyone there, go in with a game plan: Ask the person checking in names at the front desk to point out the president of the organization. That person is going to be a key connector. Have a conversation, introduce yourself and ask to follow up over coffee once the holiday frenzy settles down. And then ask who else you should be meeting while at the party.

Keep an eye on job postings. One of the most efficient ways to do this is to set up online job alerts so they land in your inbox. Set up specifications for the types of opportunities you’re interested in and then you’ll receive them directly in your inbox. Here’s the thing: People resign throughout the year and sure, in some industries like finance, people may want until the end of the year to get their bonus and then resign, but it’s not uncommon for people to line up a new job now, resign and take some time off around the holidays. Don’t assume you’ll wait until January to see what opportunities are available, considering countless companies are in the hunt for talent right now.

Network in social settings. One of the most effective ways to network? Keeping your eyes and ears open in social situations. For instance, if a friend is having a cocktail party at their home, bring some business cards. Chances are you’ll be relaxed and connect with people socially first and professionally second. Get to know them and vice versa – make a true connection. Then, once you’ve established rapport, ask, “Oh, by the way, what do you do for a living?” See if there’s synergy. This involves, of course, knowing what you’re looking for. So, as a reminder, prior to social events, get focused on your elevator pitch as well as your career goals and what you’re seeking.

This can range from wanting to connect with someone at a specific company or industry or even wanting to go on an informational interview if you’re exploring switching career paths in the new year. You never know who has a valuable connection to introduce you to! Go online to peruse job openings and drill down to specific companies, this way when you speak to someone you can have laser focus: “That’s great you work there! I was just online and noticed an opening in X department …” Since you just met the person, you don’t necessarily need to go in for the ask right away, but rather plant a seed to get to know them and ensure you follow up for additional conversations.

Ask friends for connections. In addition to enjoying catching up with people you may not have seen in a while, talk up your search with confidants – something job seekers say they often don’t think about but should. Let’s say your college roommate is in town and you reminisce over dinner. Sometimes we overlook the obvious by telling them about our goals. You never know who might have a connection or lead for you or hear about an opening before it becomes available. This way, you can apply as soon as possible and be among the first coveted batch of resumes the recruiters set their eyes on.

Above all, don’t let this season or your job search stress you out. Enjoy precious time with family and friends, and of course, value opportunities and connections the holiday season brings.


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