It’s the week before Christmas, and that may seem like a terrible time to be looking for a job. Hardly anyone’s in the office, and those who are there are trying to leave as quickly as they can. However, that actually makes it a great time to continue your job search. Hiring managers may not be in the office — but you may run into them at a holiday party, community gathering, or even while you’re finishing your last-minute shopping. Because everyone lets their guard down a little bit during the holidays, the next couple of weeks can be a great time to throw your hat into the ring.
Here are four ways to leverage the holidays to advance your job search:
1. Get out there. The holiday season offers so many opportunities to network with friends, family members and others outside your normal circles. Make a point to attend as many gatherings as possible, everything from professional networking group events as well as gatherings you may not think about as job search opportunities, such as a neighborhood party or a year-end event at your child’s school. And while you’re there, use the opportunity to hobnob with others in attendance; find out where they work, how you can help them, and whether their companies might be hiring.
2. Maintain a professional image, even while celebrating. “What if you go to a holiday bash and run into the prospective boss of your best dream job ever?” writes consultant and workplace expert Lynn Taylor in BusinessWeek. “Wouldn’t it be great to be ready with an elevator pitch about yourself and your career goals? For exactly this reason, when you party, go easy on the eggnog and other alcoholic beverages and avoid dressing like Lady Gaga. And, of course, bring business cards, even if they only state your contact information and specialty.
3. Network continually. “During the holidays, you’re going to be out and about more than usual, shopping, running errands, and socializing,” Taylor writes. “Use those opportunities not only to talk about yourself and your career needs and goals but also to ask questions about others.” Talking to people about their jobs and their companies can often reveal more information than you could ever find online.
4. Work on building relationships. The holidays are the perfect time to focus on getting to know hiring managers and others who may be able to help you in your job search. Rather than focusing on what they can do for you, though, think about (and talk about) what you can do for them. “Come January, you’ll be back to competing with the rest, so send out as many invites for lunch or coffee meetings as you can handle during the holidays,” writes Lindsay Olson, founding partner of Paradigm Staffing, in U.S. News.
While you shouldn’t abandon your job search during the holidays, be sure to enjoy yourself and celebrate a little bit, too!