Though it’s the time for gathering with friends and relatives from near and far, the holidays can often feel pretty stagnant career-wise, especially if you have your sights set on a new job for the new year. But don’t sweat: Recruiters and career coaches say if you’re on top of your game, the end of the year can be a great time to get a new job. Companies are looking to meet goals, and it can be a great time to use social media to get on hiring manager’s radar, even if the new hires aren’t happening until January 1. Plus, holiday parties can be a great place to network and make a dazzling impression on potential employers. Check out these other savvy tips for using the holiday time to your advantage and for landing the perfect role.

Portrait of confident female entrepreneur standing with hand on hip while holding digital tablet at creative office

1. Recognize that the hiring slump is kind of a myth. “For as many people who are out of touch over the holidays, there are many firms that will interview and even make decisions now. Some hiring authorities are actually highly motivated this time of year to make key hires before the new year begins. To me, it’s more of an excuse,” says Ryan Good, CEO of gpac, a recruiting firm in Sioux Falls, SD. And with many job searchers simply not paying attention to job sites in November and December, the more spots that open up for your application to shine through. The best recruiters will be on the hunt to find you no matter what time of year, Good says.

2. Master the holiday party networking scene. The holiday season can be one of the best times to mix and mingle with other professionals in a casual setting. But the key to networking successfully is always in the follow-through, says Carolyn Raitt, a management consultant of outplacement at Clear Rock, Inc. in Boston. “Make sure to share your contact information through a business card or mobile device. Send a note afterward if anyone you spoke with offered to make a connection for you,” Raitt says. Another great place to make your mark this time of year is at volunteer and fundraising events, adds Heather Rothbauer-Wanish, the founder of Feather Communications and author of Getting Back in the Game: How to Build Your Resume After Taking a Break. It’s one of the smartest ways to build strong, meaningful connections. “When you purposely look for ways to give to others and contribute to society, others remember you and think of your skills when a new job appears within their workplace or through a connection,” Rothbauer-Wanish says.

3. Make the most of this time for informational interviews. Even though social calendars can be pretty full during the holidays, business calendars can be more open. And career coach Missy Scott says people who are away from the office may have more free time to grab a coffee or hop on a call with you. Using your college alumni network on LinkedIn is a smart way to make these kinds of connections by building on what you already have in common, Scott says.

4. Practice gratitude toward your existing network. It’s important not to forget about the mentors and colleagues who have supported you in the past. Now is the ideal time to send them warm messages of appreciation either via card, call, email, or even social media, says Teddy Burriss, a leadership coach and owner of Burriss Consulting. “Give them a little update on your progress and make sure you tell them about your appreciation for anything they have done or offered to do for you. Remember to offer to help them in any way you can as well,” Burriss says.

5. Brush up on courses in your field. If you have time off from work, use it to do a bit of studying to make yourself stand out, says Donna Shannon, president and CEO of Personal Touch Career Services. Signing up for something like a social media or a language course can engage your brain and help you develop a skill that could pay off in a new role. Shannon recommends using Udemy.com or other online learning sites to get started.

6. Use downtime to practice mock interviews.Interviewing is probably the most nerve-racking part of the job search, but the more prepared you are for the questions and talking points, the smoother the interview will go. “Giving yourself a few days to sit down and practice your answers to commonly asked questions, researching the companies you’re hoping to work for, or solving case-study problems are great places to start,” says Valerie Streif, senior content manager at Pramp, a mock interview platform that allows you to video chat with a partner and practice a guided interview scenario.

7. Jazz up your Linkedin profile and resume. While you have time on your hands, polish your website, resume, or portfolio, as well as your LinkedIn profile. (Often, there are key words recruiters are looking for when searching for candidates on LinkedIn, so it helps to be strategic about your profile. Also, be sure to turn your “searching for opportunities” tab on.) “This is a great time to make sure your LinkedIn is up to date and optimized for success, create a personal website, or finish up projects so your plate is cleared if you get that job you want in early January,” says Jenny Galluzzo, co-founder of The Second Shift, a marketplace that connects professional women with flexible work.

8. Engage on social media. Now more than ever, the social realm is colliding with the professional one. You’re probably following brands and employees of the brands that you admire on your various channels, so make an effort to genuinely connect with them during this time. “Pay attention to what’s going happening on social media channels of the companies where you would love to work. Like, comment, and engage with those companies so that when an opening comes up, you will have built a relationship and be known to the recruiters,” says Rebecca Barnes-Hogg, author of The YOLO Principle: The Ultimate Hiring Guide for Small Business. You never know what interesting opportunities might arise from your Insta feed.

What are some of your favorite job search success stories? Share them with us @BritandCo.

(Photo via Getty)

Brit + Co may at times use affiliate links to promote products sold by others, but always offers genuine editorial recommendations.