Thanksgiving is almost here, and Christmas and Hanukkah are around the corner. It’s the perfect time to unwind, eat some pie, and take a break from your job search, right? Wrong—except for the pie part. (There is always time for pie.) The holidays are the ideal time to ramp up your job search, especially when it comes to making connections, getting organized, and ensuring you are interview ready. Below are five ways that you can maximize the next several weeks and make your application stand out.
1. Have some turkey with a side of connections.
Thanksgiving is all about feasting, spending time with the people you love, and—of course—being thankful. It is also a great time to catch up with friends and extended family. And where there is catching up, there is an opportunity to make connections. If you are attending any Thanksgiving dinners or parties (even if virtually), think about who will be there and if any of them work in your target industry or at a company you hope to work for. Of course, you shouldn't approach them and ask them for a job or start lamenting about your job-search plight. Instead, share with them your interest and ask if they would have time in the future for an informational interview.
You don’t need to narrow this group of potential contacts to social events. Spend some time on LinkedIn, Facebook, and other social channels, and scope out which of your contacts are working in your target areas. Chances are, given that most people are celebrating the holidays virtually this year, they’ll be spending plenty of time checking their messages. Reach out and express your interest in learning more about their work. The key here is to be genuine—use this as an opportunity to build contacts and learn about the industry. The goal is not to put people on the spot and go fishing for a job. That said, you never know where some good old networking might lead in terms of job leads and introductions.
2. Clean up the mess.
The crumbs, the wrapping paper, the superfluous language in your LinkedIn profile: The holidays are 25 percent fun and 75 percent cleaning up the trail of crumbs from Aunt Edna’s famous Christmas cookies. Channel some of that cleaning spirit into your LinkedIn profile. The point of your LinkedIn profile is to sell yourself and what you have accomplished, which means there is no room for typos and grammatical errors. Also, your profile should showcase your achievements and set you apart. What does that mean? It means the boring stock language needs to go—à la the cranberry sauce that nobody eats and gets dumped into the garbage at the end of the night. Take some time over the long holiday weekend to think about what you have achieved in your different positions, and frame those accomplishments in a way that will engage readers and demonstrate why you have unique skills and qualifications.
3. Make it shine.
From the tinsel to the twinkling lights, the holidays are time for sparkle. Don’t let your dull resume bring down the holiday spirit. First, introduce the season’s favorite color: red. Grab a red pen and be ruthless. Comb through your resume for any errors, typos, or wordy language and cross it out. Then put yourself in the recruiter’s shoes—how can you frame your experiences so that they stand out and make you a must-have candidate? The holidays may be about thinking of others, but when it comes to your resume, this is not the time to be humble. It is the time to give details and tout your hard work. For example, if you manage people, highlight that fact and the work you do to lead the team. Don't merely say "managed a team of five"—provide details of how you manage. Likewise, if you spearheaded an initiative, don't bury it in your resume—shout it from the resume rooftops. You get the idea—show off your amazing accomplishments. Also, consider the language you are using, and make sure you are including active, descriptive words.
4. Find a few of your favorite things.
You may think that the holidays are a poor time to search for a job because everyone is on vacation and distracted by the excitement of the season. While things may be a little quieter, companies are always hiring, and the reality is, this quieter time gives you a chance to look for opportunities. Searching for jobs is time consuming. Grab some hot chocolate, turn on a Hallmark Christmas flick, and start scouring job boards. If nothing else, this preliminary search can help you better define what your ideal job is. But you also may find some amazing opportunities. The new year is around the corner, and companies may want new talent to hit the ground running when 2021 begins. Get searching.
5. Tear open opportunities.
There’s nothing quite like ripping through a giant pile of Christmas presents. Applying for jobs can feel the same way. It’s a giant process, but once you get through a stack of job applications, you’ll feel amazing. Use this free time over the holidays to get through as many job applications as you can. And by "get through," I don’t mean rush. Apply the same way you open a present with beautiful wrapping paper—carefully. First, customize your cover letter. The last thing that you want is to blend in with the application pool. You don't need to send your cover letter in a box of chocolates or anything, but taking the time to craft a letter that specifically links your skills to the job posting and the company itself is crucial. Also, be sure to triple check your resume, writing sample, and any other materials you are submitting for errors. One mistake can put you right in the reject pile. Finally, by "tear open opportunities," I mean just that—don't undersell yourself. Consider your skills and how you want to grow them, and apply for jobs that not only match those skills but that will challenge you to further develop those skills.
Happy holidays and best of luck in your job search!
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