Alex Wilson
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For many people, the start of the holiday season means it’s time to reflect on how wonderful everything is. But, if you’re actively job searching, the start of the holiday season means that less employers are hiring, so you have less opportunities for new employment.

But that doesn’t mean you should be a Grinch (or Scrooge) about your job prospects, and it definitely doesn’t mean that you should pause your job search until the holiday season ends. There are plenty of things you can do during the holidays to jumpstart your job search in 2020. Here are three that you can focus on in the next few weeks. 

1. Network at holiday parties. 

Though it can vary per the company, holiday parties are typically very cheerful events. It’s a great place to talk to your colleagues like they’re not just your colleagues, and it’s a good time to talk with your boss about what you both may have in common.

Since you’re looking for a new job, you’ll want to go to as many holiday parties as you possibly can. The more people you can meet, the better! Here are a few tips on how to make that happen:

  • Ask to be your BFF’s +1. Some people hate going to events alone. If you know your friend is not looking forward to their annual event, ask to join them. In exchange for your social and emotional support, you’ll get to meet new people and potentially make professional contacts.
  • Be open to family events. Does your roommate’s family have a holiday party that you’ve typically skipped? Dust off your holiday party outfit and pick up a housewarming gift. Family events are typically more close-knit, so if you mention that you’re job searching, you may be more likely to find somebody willing to help you network.
  • Say yes to the invite. Your goal is to meet as many people as possible so you can find somebody that you genuinely connect with (and that you can eventually grab coffee with in the New Year). So, if you get an invitation from somebody you aren’t very friendly with or from somebody you barely know, say yes anyway. Who knows who you’ll meet when you branch out of your standard circle of friends?

2. Update your social media presence. 

New year, new you?  It can look that way on LinkedIn with a little bit of effort! Take one of your vacation days to comb through your social media profiles and make sure they reflect your personal brand. Don’t just focus on your LinkedIn though, focus on whichever profiles are public. You never know where recruiters are looking for more information about you, so update as much as you think is relevant and then some more for good measure). 

It’s also a good idea to refresh the individuals you’re using as references. Maybe take them out to coffee as a thank you, or change up your list based on recent work experiences. The longer you job search, the more your strategy will change. That’s totally normal, so embrace it!

3. Sign up for volunteer opportunities. 

Volunteering outside of your nine-to-five job is something you may already be doing, but since organizations scale their efforts during the holidays — it makes sense that you should scale your efforts too. Because volunteer work brings in a wide variety of people, you never know who you’ll be able to network with. Focus on opportunities that rely on a large team of people so you can maximize the number of people you meet.

Another benefit to volunteering with non-profits and other organizations? It gives you the opportunity to get an up-close look at companies in that industry. Say that your dream job is working at non-profit ABC, and non-profit ABC is looking for volunteers to help with their annual gift drive. Signing up will not only give you the chance to give back, but it will also give you the chance to talk to the event organizers and learn more about what they do. If you have a real connection, maybe they’d be open to talking to you about the company further!

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