By Daniel B. Kline
Fast Company, December 3, 2018 —
You don’t have to start looking in December, but doing the groundwork ahead of time can help you hit the ground running when 2019 starts.
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.
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.
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.