The festive season is upon us, and it’s a great time to reconnect with old colleagues or distant friends, and to make new acquaintances who will become your future ‘connections’ (at the multitude of Christmas events you attend). With a diary full of social commitments, everyone is on their networking game and this spells opportunity for anyone wanting to expand their network, ready for a New Year’s job search.  
While businesses may close over the break, their staff holiday with you. As the ‘hidden job market’ accounts for 70-80% of employment opportunities, you can learn more about the state of the market from the people you meet. ‘Informational interview’ opportunities are all around you.
But what else can you be doing to help your career? Go the extra mile this year – maintain momentum and be ready to hit the ground running in 2017. Here are three things you can do for your career during the festive season:

1. Polish your LinkedIn profile

Refresh your content, include a new update and make sure your profile photo is professional and recent. Edit your headline, experience, achievements and skills, to ensure your profile is search-friendly. Let people know that you’re active, interesting and marketable. Where appropriate, use the fields to signal your availability for a new position or assignment. While you’re there, take the opportunity to endorse a skill or tailor a ‘seasons greetings’ message for your connections.

2. Stimulate your mind

If you’d like to up-skill, or learn something new to accelerate your career advancement, check out courses you can undertake over the summer. It doesn’t need to offer formal accreditation, and there are plenty of cost-effective online courses available. Check out OpenColleges and Udemy for inspiration. Not only does it show that you’ve got initiative, further study provides intellectual stimulation, gives you something to talk about and adds to your resume.

3. A random act of kindness

Many people need support over the festive season. Volunteering your time and energy will keep you busy and connected over the break. In addition to making you feel good, you will meet new people, challenge your thinking, and potentially obtain an experience which will help you transition into a new career. As many corporate employers support their staff to participate in volunteering, they may be impressed by such experiences, which can be highlighted on your resume and LinkedIn profile. For opportunities look around in your community, and organisations such as Volunteering Australia.
Your 2017 job search won’t seem so daunting if you’ve spent your Christmas break wisely, getting involved in as much as possible to add to your resume. While it’s important to get a good rest if you’re on leave and come back refreshed in January, you’ll be glad you didn’t fritter and waste your festive season when you’re offered a job due to your extensive experience, stand out LinkedIn profile and additional qualifications. 
What will you be doing this festive season to develop yourself professionally? Let us know in the comments box below.

Summary

Networking is a great way to use the festive season to advance your career. As well as meeting new people, you can also take this time to: - Get your LinkedIn profile up to scratch - Stimulate your mind by taking part in online courses - Gaining volunteering experience, which looks great on your resume
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