The holidays are a time when you’d ideally be sitting around the dinner table with friends and family, laughing, smiling, and having a good time. It’s not a time when you are, or should be, applying for jobs. It can, however, be a time when you spend a few hours each day to prepare for one. It’s the perfect time to get everything you need ready so you can hit the ground running come January 1st.
Here are five things you can do between the eggnog and the mulled wine to prep for a job search in the new year.
Create a target list
Santa Claus isn’t the only one who should be making a list and checking it twice this holiday season. Since it’s generally a bad idea to apply to jobs when you know that most people are off on vacation, you might think that there’s nothing you can do of value for a job search. But a big part of a smart job search involves knowing where to apply and what to say in your application.
Your first step in that process is to figure out what you want out of your next job in terms of company type, industry, company size, team size, ideal job title, and beyond. List out your answers to these company parameters and use them to guide you as you look at the various companies that might be the ideal choice for your next career move.
When you finish your full list of companies (and list them in JobHero), start looking for ideal points of contact within, whether it’s the hiring manager for the team you wish to join or an internal recruiter relevant to your profession (sales recruiter for salespeople, technical recruiter for developers, etc…). Make a contact information spreadsheet with email addresses if you can find them and LinkedIn profiles if you can’t. That way you’ll have all that information handy when you’re about to start applying.
Attend those holiday parties
Every company has one or two holiday parties that they put on, and one or two parties put on by their partner and client companies. Furthermore, you might have a few friends and colleagues who have invited you to various holiday parties that they’ll be attending. While these occasions may not seem too attractive over staying in and watching TV or going out for drinks with friends, they can be highly useful as networking events.
If you go to the holiday parties you’re invited to, you’ll gain two major benefits. First, you’ll have an opportunity to meet new people who can be helpful in your job hunt. They can be people who anticipate hiring needs at their companies for the next year, or they can be ones that can connect you with their professional network for further opportunities.
Second, and more important, is the benefit that your attendance will have on your networking habits. Networking is a big part of a successful, multifaceted job search. Holiday parties are low-stress and low-intensity networking events that will help you become acclimated to talking about yourself, giving a 30 second personal pitch, and building productive relationships with fellow professionals.
Take advantage of these parties and you can reap the benefits when you need to tap into your network for job leads and advice.
Find yourself an ally
Any job search is easier when you have a buddy in your corner, ready to check on your resume, remind you of your next steps for the jobs you’ve applied to, and keep you on track in case you stray into bad habits or laziness. And the holidays are a great time to find someone to help you out. You’ll be around friends and family, so talk about your job search plans and find someone who is enthusiastic enough that they’d be willing to help you.
It doesn’t have to be someone who is also planning on starting a job search, though it is nice if you can have that mutually shared goal. But once you find the right person, ask them, and if they accept, make sure you follow up and follow through on the job search buddy relationship. Send an email with details, set up a shared job search calendar, create a shared JobHero account to stay organized, and get them involved from the very start.
Treat their help as the perfect holiday gift for your career.
Get the rest you need
The job search isn’t going to be easy on you, emotionally and physically. You’ll have to deal with the negative impacts of rejection, you’ll need to spend extra hours outside work treating your job search as a full time engagement, and chances are the process will leave you exhausted. Use the holidays to get prepared mentally for the task ahead.
Whether that’s spending more time with the family, catching up on your hobbies, or even going on a big Netflix binge, do whatever it is you feel will put you in the right frame of mind when the new year begins. Get your fill of the things that you do to rest and relax so that you can be ready to put your full effort behind the job hunt.
Catch new postings
The holiday season isn’t an iron-clad excuse to step away from the job boards. While there may not be much new inventory coming in, there are a few companies that might be on your target list who want to get ahead of the competition by posting their hiring needs when no one else is really thinking about them. The nice thing about this? It works in your favor, as well! During the holidays, your competition in job applications will be lower than on any normal day.
So if you catch a juicy new job posting that you’re particularly excited about, don’t file it away for later and don’t let it slip by. Apply immediately and you’ll be first through the door for the role among just a select few candidates who are also paying attention during everyone else’s time off. If it turns out that indeed no one was paying attention on the other end, make sure to follow up in January and perhaps apply again.
The holidays can be a great time for your job search, where you prepare everything you’ll need to start looking in earnest in the new year. Or they can be a time when your decision to relax and ignore the search results in extra stress and falling behind early. The first few months of the year are the best time to find a new job. Many people leave their old jobs, budgets are rewritten, space is added for new hires, and as a result the number of job openings skyrockets. Use the holiday break to put yourself in a smart position for job search success.