nerd Santa Claus writes with keyboardThe holidays can be an especially challenging time to search for a job. From November to January, you’ll have to deal with vacationing managers, closed offices, and other hassles. However, that’s no reason to put your job search on ice until after the new year. In fact, the holidays can be a great time to find a new job. According to David Schepp of AOL Jobs, surveys have shown that 69 percent of employers report steady or increased hiring during the final two months of the year.

Popular opinion holds that job hunting during the holiday season is pointless…which is a great thing for you. Employers still have hiring needs, and with fewer people applying, you’ll face less competition. Many people put off finding work until after Christmas or make a New Year’s resolution to send out more resumes. You, however, know better. Here is the secret to using the holidays help you find the job of your dreams: network, network, network!

Networking opportunities are never more plentiful than during the holiday season. Although it may seem cynical at first, using these opportunities to help further your career is perfectly okay—as long as you remember to give as well as to receive.

Volunteering—From dishing out Thanksgiving dinner at a homeless shelter to helping an underprivileged child have a happy Christmas, there are hundreds of ways to give back to your community during the holidays. Check out, the United Way, or local charities to find opportunities. Helping the less fortunate is rewarding in itself, but it also allows you to welcome new people into your network and fill the employment gap in your resume.

Making the Most of Parties—Depending on the size of your network, you may find yourself with more invitations than you could possibly attend this holiday season. Festive parties are a great way to connect with friends and familyand to remind them that you’re looking for work. Most people are happy to help a friend find work, especially during the holidays when the spirit of giving is foremost in their minds. Don’t be shy about bringing up your job search. If you find yourself fumbling for the right thing to say, practice an elevator pitch that briefly explains what you’re looking for and why you’d be a great employee.

Holiday Cards—The close of the year is the perfect time to reach out to your network. Let them know that you’re thinking of them and share how you’re doing in a way that feels organic and thoughtful. Remember, networking is not akin to begging for a job like an urchin in a Dickens novel. Always offer value to the people in your network, even if it’s just your sincere best wishes. Pick up a box or two of holiday cards (steer clear of specific celebrations and stick with generic season’s greetings) and send them to former colleagues, past employers, and mentors.

Seasonal Social Media Content—As a savvy, internet-using citizen, you’ve probably got one or more of the following: a Facebook page, a LinkedIn profile, a Twitter account, a blog, etc. Make these social media platforms work for you by sharing valuable content. Think of each post as a gift you give your readers, even if it’s just a tweet or a message on your Facebook wall. Rather than endlessly rehashing the trials of being unemployed, try finding humor or unexpected insight in your situation. When all else fails, pictures of kittens or puppies usually do the trick. The point is to offer something to others, building up a cache of goodwill and keeping yourself current in their minds. Then, when someone in your network hears about an opportunity, they’ll be more likely to think of you.

If you post anything on the internet, make sure your grammar and spelling are impeccable. Employers are increasingly likely to search for prospective employees online, and your web presence should therefore be above reproach. If English isn’t your forte, try proofreading your posts (and resume, cover letter, thank-you notes, and more) before publishing them.

Have you had success finding work during the holidays? Got another great tip for networking during the season? Share your story in the comments!

Like this article? Subscribe today! We also offer tons of free eBooks on career and recruiting topics - check out Get a Better Job the Right Way and Why It Matters Who Does Your Recruiting.
in Job Search Advice]