The holiday season tends to freeze up the hiring market because employers are more concerned with vacations, travel, and time off than they are about filling open positions. It's frustrating for people on the job hunt when the calls stop coming, and it seems companies that appeared interested have forgotten you entirely.
However, the end of the year also brings a new beginning. The HR department returns to their office, and hiring for open positions takes on new urgency. Now is the time to get back in front of the relevant people and remind them that you're a promising candidate who is still available for work.
Speak up and reach out
Now that it's mid-January, it's reasonable to get back in touch with any hiring departments or other contacts you were engaged with during December. Send an email expressing continued interest and asking about the other person's holiday break. Avoid pestering them; one email ought to do the trick.
The early part of the year is also a good time to submit new applications to companies that don't have a specific job openings advertised, if you haven't sent them an updated resume within six months. Send a new cover letter expressing your interest in any future openings when you send your updated resume.
Remind your network you're on the job market
The holidays are a busy and distracting time. Your close friends may recall you're searching for a job, but your extended network probably will not. Put yourself back out there. Reach out to your social networks and remind them that you're looking. Schedule coffees, drinks, or meals with people who might be helpful in your desired industry.
Your network can be the best way to learn about openings that have yet to be posted. Remember to be thankful -- and willing to do the same for others in your network as you would expect people to do for you. Don't neglect online networking as well. Posting on LinkedIn or Twitter about what kind of position you're looking for can yield promising employment results from your followers.
Make a routine
Many job openings are posted this time of year, and a lot of older postings get filled. Have a routine where at least twice a day you check all of your listing sources for new ads to respond to. Be timely as sometimes the first few qualified resumes land the interviews, so make sure your materials are at the top of the pile.
Develop multiple versions of your resume aimed at different types of jobs. The same is true of your cover letter -- though you will want to customize that for each position you apply for.
It may be cold outside, but you can heat up your job search. Things can move quickly this time of year as companies seek to catch up on the work that fell by the wayside over the holidays. Be proactive, be aggressive, and make sure the people doing the hiring know you're available and highly qualified.