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If you're a senior executive considering a career change, you may be tempted to put your job search on hold until after the New Year. However, contrary to what you might think, the holidays are actually a great time to get out there and lay the groundwork for a focused job search in January. While most employers are not likely to hire a new senior executive in the next few weeks, there are still plenty of steps you can take so you'll be "first in line" once the business world gets back into full-swing action in January.
 
In fact, there is no time better suited to career networking than the holiday season. Consider these possibilities:
 
Send personalized holiday cards to family, friends and associates. Traditionally mailed cards are always appreciated, but email is fine. You might even consider sending a New Year’s card if you fear a holiday card would otherwise get lost in the shuffle. If appropriate, you could even mention how much you'd like to "unwrap" a new job as your holiday present, and ask if they have any suggestions.

Use social media and email to reach out to your professional contacts. You could try a creative approach, such as posting a YouTube video, or you could simply post best wishes for the season to get your name in front of everyone in your network.

Be sociable. Make it a point to attend your company's holiday party, and be on your best behavior in case you need a reference in the future. But don't stop with one event. Try to get out and mingle as often as possible. Business and trade organizations often host special holiday events, as do civic, charitable and religious organizations. Pay special attention to your alumni organization's activities because you can meet people who share a connection to your college or university. In every case, try to talk to as many people as possible, ask them about their plans for 2015, and take careful notes.

Help other people. This is an excellent time to spend a day, a half-day or even a few hours as a volunteer for a cause that's important to you. You might meet other professionals in your line of work, but even if that doesn't happen, you'll still have the personal satisfaction of doing a good deed.

Why not start now, and make this a December to remember. Shift your personal networking into high gear over the next few weeks, and you will be well positioned to capitalize on your career opportunities in 2015.

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