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by Kaitlin McManus | December 24, 2019

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Finals are over, and winter break has arrived! I know it’s supposed to be a time of good cheer and getting a few weeks off school, but even when you’ve turned in that last paper or exam, the grind shouldn’t stop. Why? Because the biggest recruiting season of the year is just around the quarter—uh, corner. Q1 (January, February, and March, for the uninitiated) is a major hiring time for companies, in part because they just got their new budgets and also because everyone’s back from the holidays, ready and raring to go.

And what does that mean for you, intrepid job seeker? It means that winter break is the perfect time to get your house in order. (In a job-hunting sense—if your house is anything like mine for the holidays, it’s more of a “muted chaos” than actual “order.”) Now’s the time, before the new semester starts, bringing assignments, readings, and a bunch of other reasons not to prepare properly for your job search. Check out this list of important goals you should try and accomplish while you’ve got all that downtime between cookie comas.

Update Your Resume.

You knew this was coming, right? If you’re currently looking for a job or internship, or know you will be in the near future, your resume should be sparkling like freshly fallen snow. Include any internships or leadership activities you’ve picked up since last you updated it (no more stuff from high school!), check to make sure that your layout is readable and follows the standard resume conventions (most recent experience at the top, etc.), and proofread. Then, when you’ve got it as shiny as you can get it, pass it around. Your family is essentially a captive audience during winter break—make them review your resume. Trust me, the more eyes on it, the better. If you need some help updating your resume, check out Vault’s resume resources for expert advice on how to get your resume in tip-top-up-on-the-housetop shape.

Update Your LinkedIn.

LinkedIn pages are quite often a bit of a disaster. There are certainly impressive profiles out there, make no mistake. But it’s so easy to let them get completely out of hand—whether that’s because they’re not a complete profile, they’re too cluttered, or they’re just no longer accurate. Considering LinkedIn is one of the most utilized networking tools out there, it’s in your best interest to have your profile completed and polished.

Some LinkedIn brush-ups to consider:

  • Add a (professional-looking) photo of yourself.
  • Be sure your listed position is still current.
  • Add any additional experiences, internships, skills, languages, or volunteer opportunities you’ve acquired since you last updated your profile.
  • Cut out any unnecessary experiences (summer lifeguarding gig, high school clubs, etc.).

Volunteer

Volunteering during the holiday season is great regardless of whether you’re looking for a job—doing good is never a bad idea. But lending a hand to organizations or events like food or coat drives has the three-fold benefit of a) helping someone in need, b) providing valuable perspective to volunteers, and c) … well, looking really good on a resume. I genuinely hope that you want to help people over the holidays and that you lend your time where you can. But if you need a little more motivation to do so, volunteering does provide you with some resume candy on top of that whole “being nice” thing.

Reach Out to Networking Contacts

The holidays are a great time to reconnect with old pals. That includes people you used to work with, those who work in industries you have an interest in, old teachers/professors, whoever. Whether it’s a holiday party or just a quick “Happy New Year” email, getting back in touch with people can be easy and natural over the holiday. Use this chance to reconnect with anyone who may have job leads or could tell you more about the field you’re interested in joining.

That said, I’d advise that you wait until the later part of winter break to do this. Unless the person in question is family or a close friend (e.g., someone you’d normally see over the holiday anyway), it’s in your best interest to wait until after the craziness of the holidays to reach out to people. Most people look at their email or LinkedIn as little as possible at the end of the year—the period between Christmas and New Year’s is notorious for being a “dead” time. So make sure you reach out, but also be sure that you’re doing so in a way that’s respectful of others’ family time.

Winter break is great for downtime—it’s really nice to catch up with your family and your friends from school, and chances are good there will be some tasty food to have. But if you’re really looking to get a leg up on the competition in this fast-moving job market, it’s also a great time to get yourself career ready.

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