1. Don't believe people who say that no one hires in December. While it's true that some searches slow down or get put on hold, plenty of hiring still happens around the holidays. In fact, some hiring managers are scrambling to fill positions before the new year or want someone to start soon after January 1. There are plenty of searches still going on, with candidates being interviewed and offers being made.
2. You'll have less competition. Because so many job seekers stop actively looking for work around the holidays, you'll have less competition for the openings you find. In fact, some hiring managers report that job applications slow to a trickle around this time of year and they have trouble finding suitable candidates for jobs that must be filled quickly.
3. You might need to be flexible. Companies that are trying to make a hire before the new year are often trying to move quickly but may have limited interviewing slots available because of the vacation schedules of those involved in the hiring process. You'll have a leg up if you're willing to juggle your schedule to make yourself available when they can talk. That might mean being flexible about your holiday plans or being willing to come back from a trip on short notice if asked. (That said, don't avoid making holidays plans just in case an interviewer calls. You could end up regretting that quickly.)
4. Be prepared to be patient. Hiring processes often move more slowly at this time of year, especially if key decision-makers are out on vacation. That means that employers might take longer to get back to you or need to wait for someone to return from vacation before a hiring decision can be finalized. You should still follow up politely after an interview to reiterate your interest, but don't be discouraged if it takes longer than usual to hear back from employers; there's generally no way to avoid that.
5. Realize that some rejection might come along with the mistletoe this year. If you are job-searching in December, it's possible that you could get a rejection near Christmas – don't let it interfere with your holiday spirit. Rejections are a normal part of a job search and it's close to impossible to be searching in this market without racking up a few. Sure, no one wants a job rejection in their Christmas stocking, but don't be thrown off by it if it happens to you.
6. If you get hired, you might not start until after the new year. While plenty of employers are making job offers this month, many of them are setting new hires' start dates for after January 1. After all, with lots of staff members away on vacation, it can be hard to have someone new start when no one is around to train them. So if you get an offer this month, you might be able to enjoy a break over the holidays – with no more job searching to worry about and no work to do until January.
7. You'll likely be asked about your job search at holiday gatherings, so be prepared to make the most of the opportunity. In fact, it's worth attending as many events as you can and making a point of mentioning your job search to people you talk with, because you can never predict who might have a useful lead for you. If you desperately need a break from talking about your search, be ready to deflect questions and quickly turn the conversation to another topic.
Alison Green writes the popular Ask a Manager blog, where she dispenses advice on career, job search, and management issues. She's also the co-author of Managing to Change the World: The Nonprofit Manager's Guide to Getting Results, and former chief of staff of a successful nonprofit organization, where she oversaw day-to-day staff management, hiring, firing, and employee development.