To many job-hunters, the time between Thanksgiving and New Year’s may seem like a barren wasteland of opportunities. Between major holidays and year-end company concerns, most applicants assume that they’re better off sending their resume after the first of the year.

However, savvy job applicants know December is actually one of the best times of year to push their job-search to the next level. Don’t believe me? Here are five great reasons to send out your resume this holiday season:

1) You Could Be First in Line

It is true many companies do not make new hires in December. For some this is because of budget constraints; for others, they are too busy with year-end wrap ups and new-year planning. However, none of these reasons mean hiring isn’t on the company’s radar.

That budget-constrained company may be working new hires into the budget for the upcoming year. Likewise, year-end evaluations and future planning often include assessing the need for and planning for new positions. So companies that may not be hiring in December are likely looking to hire shortly into the new year.

Rob Saam, a senior vice president at outplacement firm Lee Hecht Harrison, backs up that statement, “There is a certain pattern to when companies hire in general. There is more hiring in January than December, but the thing about a job search is that it’s a process so you should start looking before that.”

2) You’ll Face Fewer Competitors

Not only will you be first in line, but that line may be shorter than you think. A friend of mine who recruits for Mericle Commercial Real Estate verifies that they receive the lowest amount of applications during the holiday season. With so many applicants taking a holiday break, your application has a greater chance of standing out. Not only will the competition field be less populous, but you will stand out for your commitment to searching at a time when most other applicants slack off.

3) Your Timing Might Be Better Than You Think

Many companies require seasonal workers to get them through the grind of a busy holiday season. Don’t fall prey to the temptation of writing off temp work. While it may not be the long-term position you want, temporary work is an excellent way to get your foot in the door and make an impression that could transform that temp work into a job offer.

On the other hand, employers sometimes find themselves scrambling to fill long-term positions during the holiday season. Holiday bonuses are often just the security an employee needs to feel confident tendering their resignation. A December application has the potential to put you first in line to save the day for stressed HR departments.

4) You Have Extra Excuses to Network

Holiday parties and season’s greetings are two great ways to strengthen or expand your network during the month of December. Take advantage of company parties, community mixers and other seasonal get-togethers. While you shouldn’t go resume-in-hand, be ready with your contact information should opportunities arise.

Don’t forget to send out those holiday cards or end-of-year updates. Not only are they a great way to keep in touch with old friends and former co-workers, they’re also a perfect opportunity to stay fresh in the minds of your existing network. Just refrain from being pushy or desperate. Keep it simple and drop a brief line about job searching when remarking on your current endeavors, or make mention of your career goals in a list of hopes for the new year.

5) You Can Save on Your New Year’s Resolutions

Taking a break — from anything — always makes it harder to jump back in. Staying focused and engaged in your job search throughout December means you’ll require less catching up come the new year. Not only will you remain on top of opportunities and trends, but you won’t have to make “start job searching” one of your New Year’s resolutions.

So stop writing December off and start using the holiday season to your professional advantage. While it may be tempting to take a break from your search, the benefits of an off-season search are sure to outweigh any loss in downtime.

Takeaway Tips:

  • Strengthen Your Network: The holiday season is all about cherishing relationships with others (business and personal). Connect with some past colleagues or friends by recommending them via LinkedIn. A thoughtful note highlighting their qualifications will not only strengthen your relationship, but might result in a returned recommendation to boost your profile.
  • Give Back to the Community: Another way to utilize the holiday season is to give back to your community. Even if you’re unemployed and lacking funds, you can still help by delivering meals to needy families, visiting senior citizens, and volunteering your time at a local food shelter. Don’t forget to highlight these opportunities by tweeting about the amazing time you had or showing that you care, via LinkedIn.
  • Extend Holiday Greetings: Many might believe that sending a holiday greeting to companies or hiring managers might be crossing the line. However, it’s similar to sending a thank you note after an interview. By sending a holiday card, you’re showing the company that you care, which will put you a step ahead of the other applicants.