by Judy Panagakos, Career Coach

The end of the calendar year usually means a little well-earned relaxation. Students wrap up the fall semester – putting exams, papers, and projects behind them – and many young professionals will have some time to recuperate as well. While it’s great to enjoy some time relaxing with family and friends, and to catch up on much needed sleep, it’s important to use this precious time to prepare to launch your career anew in 2020. Whether you are trying to decide what career direction fits your interests, searching for an internship or first full-time job, or seeking a career transition – these ten steps you can take over the holidays will set you up for career launch success in 2020.

Job Search Readiness

First, attend to the basics that will make you job search “ready” – set aside time to complete simple tasks that don’t need to take long, or that can be done in little chunks of time. By tackling these completely, you will be ready to react when you see an opportunity or chance to network over the break or as soon as you return to school.

1. Prepare to interview – take time to formulate answers to interview questions. At Priority Candidates, we prepare clients by having them learn specific interview techniques and develop robust answers to common questions. Small investments of time can help you master the art of conversation in both interviewing and networking situations.

2. Get ready for video interviewing – invite a friend to catch up over Skype or Zoom. Check if your settings, both on your computer and in your surroundings, work for a video interaction. Ensure and test that your microphone and speakers work adequately, and your chosen space is well-lit with nothing odd appearing in your background.

3. Plan for individual company research – establish a method you can quickly replicate to ensure you fully understand the company and its markets. Also, prepare substantive questions that you can ask about a specific company’s products, training and growth plans.

4. Get current on world events – spend a little time each day catching up, especially if your school and activities in the fall kept you from staying informed about the news. You need to be well versed in a variety of general topics during interviews.

5. Update your resume, LinkedIn profile and cover letter – ensure job search materials reflect your end of semester grades, activities, new skills and recent accomplishments. Make sure these incorporate key words that employers use to describe candidates they are seeking for targeted opportunities that the right-fit for you. You will now be ready to act quickly when you see a great opportunity.


Next, do some deeper thinking about your motivations and goals; your job search is likely the first of many throughout your career, so align your search with the parameters that matter most.

6. Explore your options – think about your skills and what you love to do. What are the project and skill experiences that have allowed you to get lost in the moment? We think about skills in terms of the skills employers seek in the field you are considering. Think back over the last several years to see if you can uncover where your passions lie and how they can align to business opportunities as you plan your job search.

7. Consider a Career and Skills Assessment – consider completing a career assessment with a trained professional if you are feeling unsure of what direction to pursue. Earlier in 2019, we explored career assessments in our newsletter; many clients find this to be the foundation they need to build a successful job-search strategy. This is also a good time to evaluate your proficiency and abilities in skills that employers are seeking in job candidates for specific roles.

Reach Beyond Your Comfort Zone

Completing your education and moving into your professional life involves learning to push yourself, broadening your perspective and engaging with your community. It takes a plan to meet these challenges without reservation.

8. Get comfortable being a little uncomfortable – start by networking. If you are not sure how to begin, read through our recent networking tips. Armed with these tactics, actively try to help someone else accomplish something. Expect nothing in return, but don’t be surprised if, someday, they help you.

9. Prepare to endure – understand that job searching is fraught with ups and downs. While you are on break, treat yourself to rest and relaxation. Deadlines, pressure and rejection are natural parts of any job search, so focus on cultivating your resilience.

10. Be open to taking positive risks – consider what it might be like to accept an opportunity in a new city. While it is intimidating to think about relocating for an internship or new/first job, it may be necessary. Consider what living elsewhere might entail. If you can spend a little time traveling or simply thinking through the essentials, such as housing and transportation options, you might be more open to accepting an interesting opportunity that you find, or to joining a company that rotates new hires across various locations.

If ten steps seem to be more than one can tackle over the holidays or winter break, keep in mind that several of them take very little time to complete. Remember, tackling these steps while you have a break will be much easier than trying to balance job searching with your additional responsibilities when the holiday season ends. Preparing for a well-executed job search takes a plan, practice and engagement. Consider finding a partner who can help keep things on track and guide your progress. Priority Candidates works with clients at every step along the early career journey, and we guide them throughout the year to help these early job seekers establish mastery of each of these components. Happy New Year and best wishes for successful job searches in 2020!