Everyone is looking forward to the free time that comes with winter break. Finally, a few weeks without homework, meetings, and maybe even work. You should absolutely take advantage of this time to veg out on the couch and spend time with family.
But you can still spend some time being productive. Winter break is also a great opportunity for you to spend a little extra time preparing your job search. Do those tasks you keep putting off because “you don’t have enough time.” During winter break, you do have time. Set aside a few hours to update your resume or build a portfolio now because come January, you’ll be back to all of those responsibilities again.
Here are seven things you can do over winter break to help your jobs search:
1. Polish your resume. Think about all of the skills and accomplishments you’ve picked up this year. Between new internships, classes, and other activities, you’re sure to have new things to add to your resume. Use the free time of winter break to sit down and update your resume.
2. Draft accomplishment stories. Accomplishment stories are the backbone of all of your cover letters and answers to future interview questions. Take an hour or two to write out a paragraph each for some stories from your experiences. Answer different questions about your hard and soft skills. Show unique experiences regarding leadership, teamwork, organization, and other skills that tend to show up in job descriptions. Once you have a comprehensive list, writing cover letters and preparing for interviews will be that much easier in the future.
3. Create a portfolio. Whether you prefer a tangible or digital portfolio, creating one takes a lot of time. Write a list of all of the work samples you’d like to include from internships and other experiences, and organize your portfolio accordingly. If you go for tangible, you can bring your portfolio to job interviews. If you go digital, you can create a site that includes your resume and other details, and attach the link to cover letters. Either way, put a lot of care into what you create because it can really set you apart from other job candidates.
4. Update social media. While you’re reflecting on your experiences, go through your social media profiles and update them. A new bio and photo can freshen up your personal brand, and you can continue to confidently network with other professionals.
5. Network, network, network. Speaking of networking, winter break is a great chunk of time to do just that. Whether that means networking on Twitter and LinkedIn, or hitting up family during holiday parties, you can do a lot of networking in the next few weeks. Make a list of people you know you’ll see and companies where you’d like to work. Then devise a strategy to make some beneficial connections to get you there.
6. Volunteer. Winter break is also a great time to volunteer one last time this year. There are a million opportunities to volunteer during the holidays, but there are a ton of excess volunteers as well. Get your act together early and volunteer somewhere close to your heart. Even if you’re volunteering for reasons other than adding it to your resume, don’t forget to add it anyway because employers love people who give back to the community.
7. Learn something new. Finally, with all of the free time of break, you can set aside a day or two to pick up a new skill. There are lots of tutorials you can find online to help you learn useful skills for your industry. Skills like GIF-making and coding are incredibly useful, but don’t tend to be taught in typical classes. Go out of your way to learn these skills and you’ll once again set yourself ahead of your job search competition.
There are plenty of other things you can do for your job search during winter break. Think about the things you constantly put off during the semester and make it a point to get them done over break. You’ll be thanking yourself later and you’ll be a much stronger job candidate.
What are some other things you can do to prepare your job search during winter break?
Heather R. Huhman is a career expert, experienced hiring manager, and founder of Come Recommended, a content marketing and digital PR consultancy for job search and HR technologies. She’s also the instructor of Find Me A Job: How To Score A Job Before Your Friends, author of Lies, Damned Lies & Internshipsand#ENTRYLEVELtweet: Taking Your Career from Classroom to Cubicle, and career and recruiting adviser for numerous outlets.