by Randy Stancovici
It’s one of the busiest months of the year – but not for hiring. Even if hiring managers and recruiters aren’t using up their use-it-or-lose-it vacation time at the end of the year for holiday preparations and travel, they’re likely to be focused on anything but work.
This can make December a particularly frustrating time of year to look for a job. But don’t place your search on hold. Instead use this time to revise, revamp and revitalize your resume, LinkedIn profile and social networks.
It won’t be easy, given the holiday madness at this time of year, but with a bit of efficient time management, you can use December to get a strong head start on your 2019 job search come January 2.
The following tips can help you make the most of the final weeks of the year so you can spring ahead of the competition come the first weeks of your 2019 job search.
1. Update your resume and cover letter
Now is the perfect time to assess your job search materials. Where are your weaknesses? What could you improve?
If it’s been a while since you’ve sent out your resume, consider using a resume builder to make sure you’re applying the optimal structure and design to effectively highlight your strengths as a candidate.
Once you have a basic resume structure (and hopefully, your most current role added to the Work Experience section), spend some time evaluating recent job ads for the role you are seeking. Focus on skills they share and common keywords used to describe those skills. Use those keywords to describe your own skills and experience, and then tweak accordingly for each new job you seek.
Because most employers use automated applicant tracking systems (ATS) to tally keywords and filter job candidates, using the exact wording in the job ad will help make sure your resume is seen by human eyes. Many ATS count keywords from your cover letter as well as from your resume, thereby increasing your overall keyword count. So, using the same list of keywords you’ve compiled for your resume revamp, craft a cover letter that tells a brief story – aim for 200 words total for the body paragraphs – about how you are uniquely positioned to help your next employer achieve their goals.
2. Reconnect and Network
Start making lists of people you know at companies where you might want to work. The holidays are a perfect excuse to send an email or direct message to old colleagues, classmates, and friends. If they have any time over the holidays, try to set up times to reconnect. If not, set up meetings, lunches, and coffee dates for the first few weeks of the New Year. As you’re catching up, ask if their companies are hiring.
Focus on expanding your online network for your 2019 job search. Work on adding past coworkers and friends to your social networks, especially LinkedIn. Recent data shows that over 90 percent of recruiters use social media, and especially LinkedIn, to evaluate candidates. Spruce up your LinkedIn profile with a new picture and new keywords to describe your skills and accomplishments.
3. Polish your online presence
In addition to refocusing your professional web presence, take some time to revamp your social media accounts as well. Of course, it’s fine to have a well-rounded life outside of the office, but you’ll want to make sure your social media accounts don’t contain anything that would cause a potential employer to become wary of hiring you.
Over-sharing, angry rants, constant posting, and too many images of social drinking can all send the wrong message to a potential employer. Take some time in the waning weeks of the year to curate your online accounts, pruning where needed, to help present the image you want future employers to have of you.
4. Launch your 2019 job search
In the first few weeks the New Year, contact people who might not have gotten back to you over the holidays. Use the New Year as an excuse to send an email or make a phone call: “Now that the holidays are over I thought I’d get back in touch….”
Using the revamped summary from your revised resume, refresh your elevator pitch. Splurge on a new interview outfit item, even if it’s just a new tie or scarf—something that will make you feel confident and full of energy. When hiring managers are back from vacation and ready to make new hires, you’ll be ready, looking your best and primed to talk about how you can help them and their bottom line.