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If your job search has you down, don't give up. The holiday season from Thanksgiving to New Year's seems like it may be a dead zone, but it's actually one of the best times for those looking to make a change. The downtime enables hiring managers to focus on hiring needs and move forward with staffing goals for the next year. Here's how experts advise to make the most of holiday season job hunt.
You're likely to have less competition during this timeframe as most job seekers take a break to focus on family and holiday travel. And as noted, hiring managers who had serious intentions of filling a position in October might not get around to writing that job description until the week before Thanksgiving when they finally have a free moment. Be on the lookout for new listings and apply early for a much higher chance that your resume will get noticed.
Ask for Informational Meetings
Have you been eyeing a specific company or job title and want to meet with someone for advice? More downtime means folks have more time to meet for 30-minute coffee breaks, where you can ask about what they're looking for in candidates, their hiring expectations for the following year and tips to get your resume noticed.
The added bonus of these informational meetings in November and December is that January is often cited as the most popular month for job changes. When someone gives notice or gets promoted in January and the hiring manager needs to open a job search, you'll be top of mind before the listing even gets posted publicly.
Use Holiday Parties as Networking Opportunities
In addition to setting up informational meetings with others in the industry, use holiday parties and other social events to help your job search goals. It may seem like a faux-pas to talk shop during social gatherings, but career experts advise the right way to turn a night of spiked punch and finger food into job advancement opportunities. Ask the right questions. Similar to having a pre-planned informational meetings, ask a few key questions about high-level best practices and tips and then open the conversation to the other person and really listen. But don't turn the entire evening into a conversation about you and your job search. Keep it brief, exchange contact information, and then move on to lighter topics.
Get Back to Basics
A slower hiring period is the best time to polish your resume and ensure your LinkedIn profile is up-to-date, your headshots are recent and – if you're in a creative field – use the time to refresh your portfolio.
If you are in position where you have the time and resources to volunteer, do it now. In addition to the positive effects on your community and the reported personal benefits (you'll feel better), volunteering is also a good opportunity to meet other like minded professionals and civic leaders. And if it's an extended effort where you had a recurring role, it's a great activity to add to the resume.
Kristin Amico is a career and business writer who spent more than a decade managing creative teams at digital agencies. She has written for The Muse, The Independent and USA Today.