What can students do over the holidays to prepare for a job hunt in the new year?

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The holidays are a great time to unwind, have fun with friends and family, and do some things completely unrelated to school or your career.

But in between the eggnog and Auld Lang Syne, you may also be able to find some time to prepare for a job hunt in the new year.

Once you’re back into classes in January, it can take a lot of work to juggle staying on top of school work and your search for paid work all at the same time. There are a number of things you can do over the holiday break to get a head start.

Find some focus

Do you know what kind of work you are going to be looking for? To help give your job search focus, it’s important to get more specific than, “I’d like to find a job that I’ll love.” Great objective, hard to know how to get there.

Ask yourself some questions to narrow things down. What industry? What kind of role? Before starting to look for work, spend some time figuring out what kind of work it is that you want to do.

Read up on job search strategies

While you have a break from reading textbooks and endless journal articles, why not try reading up on job search and career strategies? You can find books at your local library or bookstore (“What Colour is Your Parachute?” is possibly the most popular job search book ever, or try something new like my job search book “Not for Sale!”).

Online, you can spend some time on sites with job search tips and stories, like TalentEgg (which you’re doing right now!). Also, see if your school’s career centre has job search information on its website – there might be lots of great information there, and some even have online tutorials or courses you can do from home.

Update your resumé

Have you looked at your resumé since you applied for summer work last year? If not, now is a great time to add in your most recent activities.

Then, take a look at your resume in a new light – does it seem targeted to what you want to do now (and not still focused on getting last summer’s job at a camp)? Whether that’s a full-time job after you graduate this year, or a new summer position for those of you returning to school next fall, make your resumé geared to your next step.

Start networking

You’ve undoubtedly heard it is estimated that 80% of jobs are found through networking. The thing about building your network is, just like Rome, it can’t be built in a day.  So don’t wait till you graduate.

Perhaps over the break you can spend some time contacting people of interest. Do a few informational interviews to learn more about jobs or organizations of interest. You can also reconnect with people who are already in your network – like your former professors, or co-workers and supervisors from past jobs and volunteer work.

Find out about job search support on your campus

Most schools have great services and resources to help your job search along. Check out what services you can use once you get back to campus.  Are there workshops? Individual appointments? Networking sessions with employers? Alumni panels? Job postings?  Take a look now to see what is coming, and pencil a visit to the career centre into your calendar.

So there are a few things you can do to get a head start on your job searches. Enjoy your holidays!

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About the author

Cathy Keates is a career counsellor and trainer who has worked with university students and graduates for the past decade, helping them to strategically create careers they will love. She has worked as a career counsellor at Queen's University and was the associate director of the career centre at York University. Convinced that we can all create lives based on authenticity and integrity, she is the author of the new job search book Not for Sale! and shares her thoughts about finding work without losing yourself on her blog, Transform Your Job Search.