The so-called holiday “slow season” is actually a fantastic time to get started looking for a new job.

Share story

You may have heard that most companies do little hiring during the winter holiday season, and this is generally true. Companies tend to concentrate the majority of their recruiting in the first quarter of the year and then again in early fall. (The slowest times for hiring are, usually, summer and Thanksgiving through New Year’s.)

What you may not have heard, however, is that the winter holiday season — i.e., now — is the very best time for you to start a job search. This is the perfect opportunity to research potential employers, get your résumé and other marketing materials in tiptop shape, and — most of all — ramp up your networking.

No doubt about it, the December so-called slow season is especially great for networking. People tend to be more jovial and open this time of year, more willing to stop to chat. Everyone is giving and attending parties, open houses, happy hours and cookie exchanges. In fact, now is the natural and seemly time to reconnect with colleagues, former bosses and favorite professors you may not have seen or talked to for ages.

You may even find that the ideal time to reach out is that “dead” week between Christmas and New Year’s, because staffers may be away and bosses may be answering their own phones. It’s worth a try. You may not be brought in for an actual interview, but you will have started to plant the seeds.

Whatever you do, do not pick this holiday season to skip on sending cards or letters (a New Year’s card is even more original and may get more attention), or to stay home instead of attending all those social functions. You may also consider engaging in a little strategic volunteering. In short, reach out. It has always been true and it is true now that some of the best job leads come from other people — family, friends and business associates past and present.

One more thing to remember: A great advantage to ramping up your job-search activities during the holidays is that many other job hunters are taking the month off. Less competition equals more opportunity for focused, hardworking you.

Come January, when the real hiring commences, you will have a leg up on everyone else.

Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl: Real-Life Career Advice You Can Actually Use and of the novel “The Paris Effect.” Email her at