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by Jane Hurst | December 03, 2019

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Looking for a new job is strenuous enough. Add the holiday season to the mix and the stress might be overwhelming. So here are six tips for job search success (and lessening your stress) during the holiday season. 

1. Update your resume and cover letter—now. 

Don’t wait for the holidays to be in full swing or an ideal job listing to come your way. Update your resume and cover letter now. Take an afternoon this week (before the holiday party season begins) and give your resume a complete overhaul. Then take another afternoon and get your cover letter in order. This will save you time and stress later. On your resume, make sure to list any new certifications or classes you’ve taken since you last updated your resume. Also include any volunteer work (more on that below) or part-time jobs you may have had. And don’t forget to quantify anything you can. If you increased sales numbers, profits, engagements, etc., make sure to include all those facts and figures on your new and improved resume.

2. Brainstorm.

After your resume and cover letter are updated, take a few hours to brainstorm—think about employers you’d like to work for. Then look for job listings these employers might’ve posted online. If you can’t find the ideal job you’re looking for, aim for jobs that are similar so you can get the experience you need to land the job you want. List all the job possibilities you come across, and then start with the ones that interest you most, sending out your new resume and cover letters.

3. Think temporary.

During the holidays, most businesses are looking to hire extra employees. This is called seasonal or holiday work. Most seasonal positions are part time, but in some cases employers will keep on seasonal employees after the holidays. So getting hired as a seasonal employee can lead to full-time work—certain seasonal jobs could be the stepping stones to new careers.

4. Network at holiday parties.

You might not think of holiday parties with friends or relatives as a time to network, but it’s actually the perfect time. Let people know you’re looking for a new job when you meet up at holiday functions. The more people who know you’re searching, the better chance you’ll have of landing leads. If you take the time to let people know you’re job hunting, they may have some recommendations for you sooner than you think.

5. Volunteer.

The holidays are the perfect time to volunteer. You can easily find opportunities to volunteer in your local area. Volunteering can increase your network and help you build soft skills that employers are looking for. Of course, it's also a great way to give back in your community and help those in need. You can look online for volunteer opportunities, or ask at local food banks, homeless shelters, or other nonprofits in your area. Even animal shelters need volunteers during the holidays. In fact, animal shelters might experience a slight decline in volunteers because everyone is getting ready for the holidays.

6. Send holiday cards.

Take advantage of holiday cards and use them to touch base with people in your network. Everyone loves to receive handwritten notes—and they make strong and lasting impressions—so take the extra time to write notes to old friends you haven’t spoken with in a while, ex-colleagues, even relatives. You never know who might lead you to your next job interview. Also, you can include your business card in your holiday cards as a means of building your network (recipients can then easily pass along your business card). Another way to use holiday cards is to send them to hiring managers at employers you’ve applied to in the past. You can wish them a happy holiday and your name might stand out when they’re looking to fill openings in 2020. Every little bit helps when you’re on the hunt for a new job.

Jane Hurst is a writer, editor, and avid traveler from San Francisco, Calif. Find her at About.me.

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