It’s the most wonderful time of the year – or Andy Williams would like you to believe.  For many, the upcoming holiday season is a wonderful time of the year – for those who are in a job hunt, it can be the most stress-inducing, dreaded, would-rather-skip-it time of the year.  With those holiday greetings and gay happy meetings when friends come to call … those in the job search may prefer to skip them all.

Being asked, “How’s it going?”, “What have you been up to?” or “How’s the job?” are innocent questions but become stressful when you don’t have a solid response and are being asked the questions for the 20th time at a party. Unless you plan to hibernate for November and December, what can one do before the holiday season kicks into high gear?

Volunteer : Begin spending 5-10 hours a week at your favorite nonprofit. There are many benefits of volunteering including, 1) providing structure to your day/week, 2) forcing you to leave the house/turn off the computer and meet people, 3) providing you an answer to the “What have you been up to?” question. Let people know that you are taking the opportunity to give back while you are in the job hunt. This is a solid answer and will help get you through those holiday parties.

Contract Work: – The signs are on the doors, retailers are hiring for the upcoming holiday crush. Reports are out that places like Kohls, Target, and Amazon will be looking to add tens of thousands of seasonal employees. FedEx, UPS, and others will add to the payrolls beginning very soon.  This tactic has many benefits as well. First, it puts money in your pocket; second, it gives you a response to the holiday party questions; third, you will be working so much you won’t be able to go to the holiday gathering – and thus avoid the questions altogether.

Classes: Sign up and take classes at a local college to learn new/advance existing skills. This will provide a great response to the status update question and provide possible conversation topics.  This tactic will help build your brand as one who always looks to improve.

Holiday season can be a great time to do some solid networking at these parties – one only needs to be ready for the event. Plan now in order to be ready for the most wonderful time….of the year!


Kevin Monahan is the Associate Director of the Notre Dame Career Center.  In this role, he leads the center’s  employer relations efforts in addition to coaching young professionals in career management and career change capacities. He combines career consulting services with employer outreach to help find opportunities for both constituencies.  He is the author of the Career Seeker’s Guide blog.