Your job search might grind to a halt before and during the holidays despite your best efforts to keep it chugging along. Maybe the line goes dead with the recruiters and hiring managers you’ve been in touch with at companies where you’re trying to land interviews–or maybe you just never hear back at all after applying.
One Fast Company contributor recently suggested pausing end-of-year job searches to do other career-boosting activities around the holidays, then picking back up again in January. But that’s not your only option.
Candidates too often assume that there’s a general lack of urgency among employers to fill empty positions this time of year. But it’s typically not the urgency that’s gone away, it’s the capacity of hiring experts to keep things moving that tends to get restricted. But they’re still doing their utmost to make smart hires all year round. The challenge for candidates is to actually get noticed–which may be less daunting than you imagine.
Think about it: If everyone else stops job searching while youcontinue to aggressively pursue opportunities, you’ll not only face reduced competition, but you’ll make a strong statement about your interest in the job. So if you decide to stick with it during the holiday season when other contenders drop out of the running, you might have better odds of proving yourself a can’t-miss candidate. Here are four creative ways you can make a positive impression and catch recruiters’ notice during the year-end crunch:
1. SHARE YOUR YEAR IN REVIEW
If you’ve had a great year, let recruiters and hiring managers know about it. Put together a year-in-review document highlighting your key accomplishments for the year. Especially if it’s been a few weeks since you submitted a resume and cover letter, a simple email can get the ball rolling again–subject line: “[Your name]’s year in review.” This can help recruiters focus on your most recent achievements rather than on your entire professional history, like your resume does.
Just make sure you aren’t writing what amounts to a second cover letter. Simply bullet-point the accomplishments that are most pertinent to the job you’re applying for. If you started a project that saved the company money, include it. If you had a record-breaking sales year, showcase it. If you helped develop a new technology that changed the way your company does business, highlight it. Don’t forget to include personal accomplishments as well, though. If you climbed Mount Kilimanjaro or travelled to help Hurricane Harvey flood victims in Houston, include that, too. It will say a lot about who you are and what you’re willing to do to push yourself–all of which every recruiter wants to see in potential candidates.
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2. RECORD A (SHORT!) VIDEO
Don’t feel like writing an email? What about shooting a quick video? Think of it like a teaser for an interview–not a full-on audition tape but a brief, personal hello that lets you briefly mention what excites you about the role and makes you a great fit. Set yourself up in a professional, well-lit environment, and record yourself directly from your desktop’s or laptop’s camera (it doesn’t have to be Hollywood-level).
If you do opt for a video, though, just keep it simple: Introduce yourself, and explain–concisely and conversationally–what you’d be bringing to the table if the company were to hire you. Don’t hesitate to be timely: Mention any newly acquired skills, recent job accomplishments, or promotions. (And in case you need a few pointers, here are some techniques for being natural and compelling on camera.) But whatever you do, keep your video to 60 seconds max. Unlike in a live job interview, if you start to ramble, you can go back and do another take.
3. OFFER A “WHAT THEY’RE SAYING” UPDATE
Hiring managers nearly always seek out third parties to validate job candidates they’re considering–only typically they’ll save this to the end of the hiring process. But it doesn’t hurt to give them a jump-start. Professional recommendations reduce the risk of a hiring mistake, and since you’ve probably already got a few recommendations from others on your LinkedIn profile, this isn’t a huge departure.
Here’s what to do: Ask three to four professionals (they could be the same people you’d submit as references, but they don’t have to be) who know you well to submit a write a short paragraph–three to six sentences is plenty–about you, emphasizing why you’re the ideal candidate for this role. Have each one focus on a different topic, such as your leadership skills or your ability to initiate important work. Together, it will paint a picture of you as a multidimensional candidate. Put each entry in quotes and identify the person, title, and company they’re from.
When you’re done, you should have a compelling, one-page digest of strong, specific recommendations that you can attach or paste into an email. Easy as that.
4. SEND A HOLIDAY E-CARD (YES, REALLY)
Want to keep it simple and put yourself in front of a hiring manager during the holiday season? Create a customized holiday e-card to send to corporate recruiters and hiring managers. Yes, e-cards can be cheesy, and your friends probably got tired of getting them back in 2008 or so. But recruiters and hiring managers aren’t your friends, and an e-card can be an easy, friendly way to catch their attention during the holiday season.
There are dozens of sites and services that provide e-cards and e-card templates (here’s a list of 11), but whatever you choose, keep it non-religious with a message like, “Warm wishes and happy holidays.” Make sure your tone is professional yet warm and reflects your personality. All you’re trying to do is let a hiring manager know you’re thinking about them and interested in the opening. Folding that into a little dose of holiday cheer may be all it takes to get them to think of you–which is exactly what you want.