The holidays can seem like a tough time to job search, people are out of the office and holiday schedules are hectic. But there are lots of things you can do to take advantage of this time, keep your search moving forward, and set yourself up for post holiday success.
- Review your skill set
Read through every job description you can, even the ones for jobs that didn’t originally interest you. Where are your skills gaps? If you see fluency in C++ in one or two job descriptions, but not on most, you might be okay not knowing it well. But if you see fluency in C++ listed over and over, the next few weeks are a great time for you to work on learning it.
- Take on a new project
One of the best things you can do to really master those new skills (and demonstrate your knowledge) is to apply them. We’ve been publishing links to lots of publically available data sets on our blog. Take one and treat it as a case study, what problem might this company or organization have, and how can you use data science to solve it? You can add your work to your github, blog about it, or share it on your LinkedIn! These are publically available data sets, so definitely show off your work.
- Revamp your resume
If you haven’t made significant resume updates in a few months these quiet days around the holiday are a great time to give your resume a second look. Look at some different templates and try them out. Employers will take a fresh look at resumes in the new year and employers that may not have noticed you originally might take a second look if your skills and background are showcased differently.
- Make a List of Potential Contacts (and Draft Emails)
The day before Christmas might not be the best time to send new emails or reach out to new contacts, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t start drafting those messages. Remember that people who take time off will likely be overloaded with emails their first day back in the office, so it might be best to wait a day or two after the holiday to send them (no one wants to get lost in the inbox!) but drafting messages now will give you a leg up on everyone who takes this time off from their job search.
- Work on Your Social Media Presence
Have you ever Googled your name and “Data Science”? Just because you’re new to the field doesn’t mean you can’t have a presence in it. Blogging is a great way to increase your presence. You don’t need to have your own blog, blog for us! Do you have a unique Data Science skill set, a really cool capstone project? Or another idea to share? Our blog has a great readership and a post is awesome for your professional reputation.
- Get In Touch with References
It can be a little awkward to reach back out to old supervisors just to ask for a reference, but the holidays give you a perfect opportunity to get back in touch. A thoughtful, handwritten holiday card never goes out of style, and serves the double purpose of being a good opportunity to confirm addresses and contact info. Plus, it’s a nice way to get back in touch and let them know what you’ve been up to, and will make it a little easier when you do need them to write a reference letter or take a call from your new potential employer. Check back in with us too! TDI is always happy to provide a reference for former Fellows.
- Enlist help
Sometimes the best way to find gaps in your job search skill set it by sitting down to talk with someone about it. Things tend to slow down at the holidays, this is the time to ask someone to grab coffee and give you a hand! TDI staff is always happy to chat with Fellows (former and present!) about how the job search is going, review past interview performance, look over that new resume, and strategize ways to move forward.
- Don’t stop looking for new listings
New jobs do post, often late into December. Give yourself a leg up, and apply right away. Sometimes these late in the year job postings will be the ones that move the quickest as companies want to tie up loose ends before the new year!
- Be on top of your emails, but be patient
Be more patient than ever, and be prepared to follow up when the holidays end. You might do a great phone screen the week before Thanksgiving and be a little bit surprised when the manager doesn’t follow up immediately on Monday as promised. Vacation schedules won’t necessarily align, and people will be out of the office. Do your due diligence and follow up, but especially at this time of the year no news is not necessarily bad news. Most likely, that hiring manager is just off enjoying the holiday. So keep up the hard work, but do the same
Alyssa Thomas is the Career Counselor and Placement Specialist at The Data Incubator.