The end of the year generally means that overall hiring slows down. Companies may have openings, but in many cases they won't get filled because the season makes it hard to get all the relevant people in the same place.

But just because there's not a lot of hiring going on does not mean you can't help yourself. The end of the year offers some unique networking opportunities that can make a 2018 job search easier.

This is a time of year when people look back, catch up with friends, and renew lapsed relationships. Doing that can simply be part of the holiday season, or it can be a way to build and refresh your personal network.

An illustration of holiday cards

Sending a holiday card is a good way to reconnect. Image source: Getty Images.

Send holiday cards

While it may not be as popular an activity now that the internet and social media have made it easy for people to easily stay in touch, it's still appropriate to send out holiday cards. Generally, this is a picture of you (and your family if applicable) with a letter about what has happened during the year.

It's appropriate to send this to anyone you have had a personal or strong professional relationship with. Holiday cards can be used to warm up relationships with old colleagues, lapsed friends, and former bosses. It's also appropriate to add a hand-written personal note to any group message.

You can use a personal note to let the right people know you're considering looking for a new job in 2018. It's possible to do that directly or indirectly by saying something like "I'm considering opening myself up to new challenges in the coming year."

Attend holiday events

Every year a former colleague of mine has a large, informal holiday gathering where many former co-workers, business associates, and other people I know gather. The event also attracts people in his professional world who I may know only by reputation, or not at all.

Events like this offer the opportunity to renew old relationships and make new ones. They also allow you to form new ties to people that may aid you in your job search in the coming year.

Pick up the phone

A few days ago a good friend and former colleague of mine called me for no reason other than to catch up. I know he's happy in his job (one that my advice at least played a tiny part in him getting) and that there's nothing specific he needs from me or I from him.

My buddy wasn't being calculating, but he was doing a smart thing. Keeping friendships current makes it less weird if you do need something from the person down the line. Because we chatted (over text message, as I was not near my phone when he called) our bond gets stronger and more immediate.

Placing a call to a handful of people you like during the holiday season makes sense. It can be good for your mental well-being, and it might turn out to be useful down the road.

Be real

All of this advice sounds a bit cynical, a sort of guide to how to make it easier to take advantage of your friends, colleagues, and associates. That's not the goal. In reality, the holiday season offers a chance to reconnect with people you care about -- whether it's an old friend or just someone you liked at an old job.

Doing that does build your network, and that can help a job search. Consider those added benefits to the simple pleasure of having moments with people you like and wish were in your life more often.

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