BlessingsThe holidays are tough when you’re looking for work. The month between Thanksgiving and Christmas is filled with gift giving, parties, and feasts. If you’re unhappy and under- or unemployed, the festivities can feel less like spreading holiday cheer and more like expensive obligations. It’s easy to feel discouraged, but here are four things to be thankful for during your job search:

Companies Are Still Hiring

It’s a myth that companies stop hiring during the holidays. While it can be more difficult to get everyone necessary for a hiring decision in the same room, there will still be open positions that need to be filled, regardless of when the vacancies occur.

According to Debra Donston-Miller of TheLadders, the close of the year can actually bring increased urgency to hiring: “The end of the year also brings use-’em-or-lose-’em deadlines at many companies. If hiring managers don’t fill open positions before the New Year is rung in, they risk losing the open slots.”

It’s a Great Time for Networking

Remember all those endless potlucks, cocktail parties, and get-togethers? They’re a golden opportunity to network. Lynne Sarikas, director of the MBA career center at Northeastern University, advises job seekers to take advantage of both the social events and relatively slow season for many companies. Seek out professional events and meetings as well as gatherings with family, friends, and colleagues.

“Set networking goals for yourself each week, and hold yourself accountable,” says Sarikas. “Find alumni or LinkedIn connections at your target companies and schedule yourself a series of networking discussions over the holiday months.”

One note of caution, however: be careful of over-indulging in alcohol at cocktail parties and other events. If you think of your job search as a job itself, then consider yourself on the clock whenever you’re networking.

Everything Is a Learning Opportunity

There’s no growth without change. It can be difficult to see unemployment as a good thing, but layoffs and even firings can be blessings in disguise. Just ask Alex Korchinski, who was fired from the company he helped start just twelve days before Christmas. He says that “getting kicked in the gut by the unforgiving boot of unemployment is a beautiful thing. As long as you have the resilience to counter it with a roundhouse kick to the face.” Getting fired lit a fire within him to pursue his passions, and he considers it one of the best things that ever happened to him.

The job hunt is also an excellent time to focus on your worth. You have to update your resume with your strengths and accomplishments (remember to proofread every time you make a change!) and convince potential employers of how confident and competent you are. This is a lot more effective if you believe it yourself, so make an inventory of your best qualities. The exercise will help you sell your skills and show yourself just how talented and valuable you are.

Helping Hands

There are many resources available to job seekers, both online and in person. In addition to advice sites like this one, check out the US Department of Labor, the American Job Center, and Career Onestop for starters. Ask friends, family, former colleagues, and college chums to keep an eye out for opportunities, too. Help may come from the place you least expect it, so stay open and positive.

Now is the perfect time to offer help as well as ask for it. You may feel like you don’t have much to offer, but there is always someone more unfortunate than you. By helping out in your community, you not only get a new and impressive entry for your resume, but studies show that you’ll also reduce your stress, improve your health, and increase your self-esteem. Sounds like a win for everyone!

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