December grads, here’s how to take advantage of the holidays

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After long hours of studying at the library, college students preparing for winter graduation might feel a little uncertain about landing a first job, especially during the holiday season.

As a December grad, I prepared to jump start my career by updating my resume, creating a job search plan and leveraging my network.

I still ran into a few roadblocks and you could too.

When applying for jobs close to the holidays, you may not receive an immediate response to your application. Typically, companies evaluate their budgets ahead of the new year. This practice includes determining how much to budget for new hires. Furthermore, some companies may observe a short-term hiring freeze until the start of a new budget year in January. In addition to budget considerations, many hiring managers take vacation. Upon returning to work, many will have a slew of emails to work through.

Tip: Job seekers should consider sending a follow-up email to the recruiter to demonstrate continued interest in an open position.

Despite the minor bump in the road with applying for jobs around the holidays, December graduates can still get ahead. Here are four more tips to help mid-year grads take advantage of the holidays.

Update your resume and LinkedIn page

The first step in a successful job hunt is to update your resume and LinkedIn account. It’s important to update your resume because it’s your primary marketing tool.

A resume tells employers about prospective employees and their experiences. It can also communicate business skills like attention to detail and writing abilities.

In addition to a traditional resume, job seekers can leverage LinkedIn to showcase past experiences in one space. Not only does LinkedIn allow its users to highlight their past achievements, it can also be used to communicate future aspirations and current projects. The social media tool allows job hunters to quickly expand their networks, manage their career with ease and learn more about various industries from experts.

Learn how to leverage the power of LinkedIn with The Career Playbook: The Power of LinkedIn module.

Pro tip: Keep a master resume that includes a list of all your information including volunteer opportunities, internships, jobs, skills and certifications.

Network

Leverage your network and continue to develop genuine relationships with other business professionals.

According to The Career Playbook, 70 percent of jobs are found through connections. Networking can happen anywhere.

If you’re heading to holiday parties, take advantage of these situations by striking a conversation with your parent’s and friend’s colleagues. These informal networking opportunities could possibly lead to securing a job.

If you’re still unsure of what job field you’d like to enter, use your network to connect with business professionals for an informational interview. These interviews allow job seekers to receive career advice and learn more about a specific industry or job position.

Pro tip: Easily connect with professionals by showing genuine interest in them. Start by asking questions or for advice and being relatable.

Winter internship and volunteer

Continue to develop key skills and explore different career paths by volunteering or interning during the holiday. Understanding personal and professional career goals, gaining more experience and getting a foot in the door are just a few reasons to volunteer or intern after college.

In addition, graduates should consider volunteering or interning if they want to change their career paths, are unable to land a job ahead of graduation or want to explore other options. Check with your university’s career center, search LinkedIn or leverage connections for leads. Winter internships typically last for three to four weeks while volunteering can last longer.

Expand job search criteria

It’s tempting to limit your job search criteria to your major but consider widening your options. Before moving to Delaware to kick start my dream career in public relations, I took a job at my local news station as a producer. While working in news, I gained experiences and skills that I have leveraged in my new job as a communications specialist with Navient.

As a young professional, I know it can seem tough at first to break into one’s dream career.

But 7 in 10 young adults between ages 22 and 35 with a college degree are employed in a job related to their field of study, according to our Money Under 35 report. If you’re having a difficult time entering your desired career field, consider applying for jobs parallel to your dream job. This way, you can get your foot in the door while gaining work experience.

Pro tip: Consider applying for seasonal jobs during the holidays. This way, you can still earn money, pay down debts and save.

No matter what time of year, applying for jobs can be stressful. Whether you’re job hunting or are mapping out a career plan, The Career Playbook, a YouTube series featuring more than nine short videos on a variety career success topics, can help. Remember to breath, relax and enjoy the holidays.

Brianna Huff is the communications specialist for Navient and a December 2016 graduate of University of North Carolina Charlotte.