How to stay focused on your job search during the holidays


It’s hard not to act like Scrooge when everyone seems so merry for the holidays but you’re miserable because you hate your job. You have to suffer through awkward holiday parties and cookie exchanges with your co-workers when you’d rather be at home binging Netflix or, yes, even writing cover letters. You want to cry into your mince pie every time your relatives ask you, "How's working going?". And to top it all off, you're feeling discouraged because you think there’s no way you’ll land a new job when everyone has their out-of-office message on and people are focused on eggnog and exchanging presents...not finding their next hire. But hark the herald angels sing, that is not always the case!

“There is a false belief that recruiting shuts down during the holidays. This is nothing more than a myth; it just slows down,” says Roy Cohen, a New York City–based career coach and author of The Wall Street Professional’s Survival Guide. “People tend to be more helpful but often less available. It’s a contradiction and one you should use to your advantage.”

As hard as it may seem, muster up some holiday merriment to make yourself less miserable and more proactive in hopes of getting a new job in the new year. Monster spoke to experts to find out how.

Spruce up your work sitch

As far as we know, Santa doesn’t put job offer letters under the tree, so you have to be a little patient. In the meantime, Dr. Caroline Leaf, a Texas-based cognitive neuroscientist, recommends focusing on gratitude. (Even if the only thing you can focus on right now is the free coffee at the office or the extra days off for the holidays.)

“Your words and actions are a reflection of your thoughts: ‘Catch’ those thoughts by writing them down on a piece of paper, in a journal, or on your phone or computer,” Leaf says. “Then write down what you have to be thankful for right next to your negative thoughts.” She suggests doing this exercise for a few minutes every day for at least three weeks.

Mix and a-mingle

You never know who your uncle’s best friend’s aunt knows and how she can help you land a new job. Talk about your job search at holiday parties with your nearest and dearest, and don’t shy away from being specific about your target companies or role. And remember that you won’t get a lump of coal for not being 100% honest about the real reason you’re looking for a job—like, that your boss makes Miranda Priestly look like an angel, or you’re so bored you’d rather make a spreadsheet of all the houses Santa has to hit up on Christmas Eve. Leave that stuff out and just tailor the convo to what you’re looking for next.

“Often during the holidays, job seekers falter in their pursuit, then they add on a massive amount of complaining. Not only is this a real downer for Uncle Charlie at the family holiday party, but it is also not productive,” says Todd Mitchem, a Denver-based leadership coach. “No person wants to hear you complain, and it does not inspire anyone to help you find that next work path.” Channel your inner Ariana Grande and make your mantra, “thank u, next.”

When you send out holiday cards or emails, write some individualized ones for people who have been supportive of your job search, says Cohen. “It should be upbeat and optimistic: That you continue to search and are committed to finding a great job and know that it is only a matter of time and timing,” he says. “And that you’re deeply grateful for all the people who you have reached out to along the way during your job search.” People are more likely to help you because you’ve sent a reminder about your job search while showing your gratitude, he says.

Dream of a “White Christmas” and a new job

Don’t just wish for a shiny new gig to appear this holiday season—take steps to make it happen, even if it means sending job applications when you’re watching “A Christmas Prince: The Royal Wedding.” Hiring managers will be reviewing applications throughout the holidays and into the new year.

“At the end of the year, if a job hasn't been filled, there’s often a sense of urgency to do so now. It’s the ‘use it or lose it’ principle with respect to budgets and headcount. It’s also a time of year when bonuses are paid out and unhappy employees exit their companies for better opportunities,” says Cohen, adding that you’ll have a competitive advantage if you send applications when other people are hitting snooze on their search.

Accept a gift graciously

Sometimes the best gift someone can give you is a bit of good advice. Become a Monster member for free and get curated job openings and expert career advice emailed to you every week. Additionally, you can post up to five different versions of your resume, each tailored to the jobs you’re most interested in. Recruiters search Monster every day, and you don’t want to miss a single opportunity for them to find you.

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