Ah, the holiday season. Time to relax with friends and family and remove your mind as far as possible from all things work. Oh, and job hunting? Hardly a fit for this festive season, with all the errands to run and people to see. After all, “Nothing gets done ‘til the New Year,” right? If you think finding a new job is better as a New Year’s resolution, I’m here to dispel that myth.

The reason is simple: Most people are thinking the same thing and slack off on their job searches over the holidays. Yes, it’s a slower time at many offices. Enter...You. Managers are refining their hiring plans for 2018 and are finally able to catch some down time that will enable them to sort through the pile of candidates. It’s counter-intuitive, but contact employers now and you might stand out like a snowman in July (minus the melting part).

Dreamstime
Source: Dreamstime

Here are six steps to a successful holiday job hunt:

Work your network. Festive greetings provide an easy excuse to get back in touch with work contacts and others who might aid your search. So send off holiday wishes to that friendly former colleague, Dan, from accounting you haven’t spoken with since he left last February. Chances are you’ll both be interested in helping each other out. It is a two-way street, which is often forgotten at times like this. Be mindful of ways in which you can reciprocate and pay it forward with others.

Remember, too, that hidden job openings account for a significant number of opportunities, because word of mouth and social networks go far in identifying candidates without the need for advertising.

Party with purpose. Company parties, neighborhood potlucks, school performances…so much fun and so little time! But you can be selective, choosing those events that might yield the best results. And be on your guard. Dare to wear those trendy ripped jeans with an ugly holiday sweater (while sipping too much spiked eggnog) and you’ll no doubt find yourself sitting next to the HR director of a top employer. Keep in mind that holiday events may prove to be round one in the screening process with a prospective employer, so dress and act accordingly.

Wrap it up with a bow. With less competition from other candidates during the holiday season, your application has a much greater chance of being seen and landing you an interview. Put your best foot forward by researching companies carefully so you can highlight your knowledge; current trends; and why your background is a great fit – all summarized in the cover letter. Have trusted colleagues review your resume to ensure it doesn’t come across as a lump of coal, but an unexpected “holiday gift.”

Make a list; check it twice. Reflect on what you’ve accomplished in your job search so far – and creative ways to uncover new opportunities. Maybe you haven’t explored targeted recruiters in your specialty area or contacted prospective employers that are hiring. Think about everyone you know, including aunt Kathy, at that booming tech company. Think about your LinkedIn and Facebook contacts, and putting the word out on all your respective group pages. Just one small move you take in a given direction may be all you need ultimately to lead to an offer letter.

Hit the call button. Yes, that’s right…find that seldom-used job search tool on your cell and make targeted phone calls. Virtually all resumes are submitted via email today, so employers are inundated, particularly during the busy months of the year. However, if you're a highly qualified candidate, this could be your window of opportunity. During the holiday slowdown, you just may get through.

Be ready. Don’t just ask about the status of your resume, but call with some new information about yourself – or to emphasize why you’re a perfect fit for the job. Be sure you either have a strong background or have received initial interest. And don't pester. Use emotional intelligence to gauge every individual reaction you receive.

Be Patient. While you may get on the radar with employers this time of year, the hiring process may not fly along at the normal breakneck business pace, so don't get discouraged. Vacations happen, companies get short-staffed and some managers do decide to wait until the New Year to get consensus on hiring. (Note: In between your job search activities, this is also a great time to remind yourself of the big picture and the unlimited opportunities before you in the New Year!)

While others are treating the holiday season as one long break, stay one step ahead. Be active, visible and be the candidate who’s ready to step in, no matter the time of year. You might just have something really big to celebrate over the holidays.

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