There is a saying in many business circles ( retail the exception ) that things pretty much slow to a halt between Thanksgiving and New Years. For many in a job search this has been a reason to hunker down and wait it out till the New Year. Allow me to suggest that this may instead be the time to turn up the heat on the search process by following a few simple rules.

• The holidays are ideal times to network, both formally and informally. Formal networking means setting formal information gathering meetings from 20-40 minutes in duration with people in positions of influence within the companies, industries or job functions within your scope of interest. Business may indeed slow which may in tern free up peoples busy work schedules allowing more time to meet with you. Call to set the appointment then show up on time and prepared to ask questions relevant to your search and their needs. Send them a special holiday thank you gift for their help.
• For many, the holidays are filled with open houses, parties, school gatherings, special church services, Christmas caroling and more. These gatherings often extend your normal sphere of influence and include people with whom you might not otherwise socialize. Take advantage of these opportunities to introduce yourself and ask questions of the other guests that may enable you to assess their ability to assist you in your search efforts. If possible and appropriate set follow-up formal meetings and ask for referrals to their contacts who might be valuable in your effort. Don’t forget to take along and distribute some business cards with your contact information and a brief statement of what you do and for what opportunity you are searching.
• Re-assess and re-energize your job search strategy. Develop manageable, daily job search to-do lists and schedule time for them on your calendars. Spruce up your employment portfolio and resume. Research target companies, practice interviewing with a coach, register with all the top online career websites or refresh your resumes that you may have already posited.
• Face the facts: looking for work is stressful and the holidays can be stressful as well. Create systems and supports to keep the stress in balance. Manage stress with healthy eating and regular exercise. For some the excess of holiday cookies, eggnog and alcohol may be especially tempting and the cold weather an excuse for not exercising. Managing your stress is vital to job search success. Remember, people who are or appear stressed are not attractive employment candidates.
• Remain positive. This may mean redefining your holiday traditions. Give yourself permission to let go of costly holiday traditions and create new ones that require less time and money. Building and strengthening relationships will be of lasting importance; long after the expensive gift is forgotten.
• Stay committed to your priority of getting that new job. Stick to a positive routine, think look and act like an employed professional. Capitalize on the knowledge that most job seekers think the holidays are a bad time to look for work. Take advantage of this time when the competition is not as strong. Demonstrate to prospective employers your motivation and ability to stay on task.
• Many companies are trying to fill open position requisitions before the end of the calendar year. Some requisitions will close one January first and hiring managers must resubmit requisitions for new approvals so they are motivated to close the year with a full compliment of competent employees.

The holidays are the ideal time to recommit to building and strengthening personal relationships, your life skills, habits, and your faith. Use this time wisely and have a Merry Christmas and a happy, prosperous new year!