Most people looking for a job put it on hold in December. That's generally because hiring slows down during the holiday season as people take vacations and lose time to seasonal events, and companies do other year-end activities like budgeting and employee evaluations.

December may not be when you'll land a lot of interviews for permanent work, but it's still a time of opportunity. If you know you will be seeking a job in the new year, you should take the month to get as ready as you can for the new year and the return of normal hiring rhythms.

Of course, if you're out of work, you should not put your search on hold for December. Work on all of these things while you keep looking, because a hiring slowdown isn't a hiring stoppage. And if you're employed but ready to move on, these are good ways to get ready.

A person visits a job search website.

Hiring tends to slow down toward the end of the year. Image source: Getty Images.

1. Get your resume in order

It's not enough to just update your resume. You also need to research whether resume format for your industry has changed. For example, in journalism a one-page resume was the standard throughout the 1980s and 1990s. At some point in the 2000s that changed, and multiple pages became not just appropriate, but expected for more senior-level people.

In addition to making sure you have your resume copyedited and checked for other errors, it's important to make sure it's current. Talk to hiring managers or other people in your field who have recently gotten hired to find out what's the current norm.

2. Get your references set

Very few people like surprises. Your references may all agree that you're a wonderful person and an excellent worker, but they probably don't want a surprise call asking about you.

Let your references know that you plan to start a job search and that you're using them as references. This will have them expecting calls and give them a chance to opt out -- maybe they will be traveling out of the country, or maybe they don't think they can say anything nice about you.

3. Use some vacation time

Vacation policies vary by company. Some carry vacation over into the new year, and some pay you for unused time if you decide to leave, while others do neither.

December is a popular month to take time off, and in some cases, even companies where unused time does not carry over will allow you to book January vacations using 2018 time. If you have unused days, see if you can use them early in 2019, which can give you time to search for a job and go on interviews.

4. Polish your skills

Consider the type of job you'll be applying for and examine your skill set. Maybe there's something you know how to do that you're a little rusty at. Take an online refresher course or do something that lets you show during an interview that you worked on that area. Even just starting the process can make a big difference to prospective employers.

Being rested and ready will pay off

While December can be a hectic month, it also tends to be a time when most workers in fields that aren't retail related get time off. Use that time both to prepare for your job search and to recharge your batteries.

Do things like setting up email alerts for certain job titles and bookmarking company careers pages you want to track. Make sure you have interview outfits ready to go and that you have nicely printed copies of your resume and references. There's only so much you can prepare, but doing what you can will make it easier once the job market picks back up in the new year.

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