11/30/2011 02:37 pm ET Updated Jun 13, 2012

Job Search: 'Tis the Season... So Get Out There!

Age gifts us with perspective. Job-seekers over 50 are savvy to the ways of the world, but this might come as a surprise: believe it or not, the holidays are the absolutely best time of year to look for work!

At first glance the above statement might seem unrealistic... if not downright daft. After all, companies don't do much hiring at the end of the year. Most everyone appears preoccupied with gift giving, mistletoe, and parties. Yet there are a number of reasons why you should ramp up your efforts and take full advantage of all that December has to offer. So get out there and make your presence known as the competent, attractive, can-do candidate everyone wants to meet.

Here are 4 reasons why you'll want to celebrate the season by being extra productive in your job search:

1. Your competition levels plummet. The majority of job-seekers figure the holidays are a waste of time and make only marginal efforts to look for work. They opt to relax, sip their holiday cider, and gear back up in January. Their big mistake becomes your big advantage because opportunities for socializing and networking abound. With your job search goals in mind, you're positioned to make a huge impact while your competition is taking a long winter's nap.

2. January and February represent the strongest hiring period of the year. New projects, initiatives, and budgets are put into place and hiring generally skyrockets at the beginning of the year. Although not every January can promise a boom in the marketplace, by actively networking and positioning yourself as a valuable and enthusiastic candidate, you'll be well on your way to getting that all important call for an interview on January 2nd.

3. There's no better time of year to schmooze. Parties, gatherings, and community events are prime opportunities to press the flesh and tell your story. Resist the temptation to deliver a rehearsed elevator speech unless you're attending a formal industry event where such introductions would be commonplace. Even then, be certain to judge the mood of the merrymakers before you come across as too stiff or businesslike.

Usually in such circumstances a lighter touch is best. When asked what you do, you might reply with an engaging one-liner that peeks your listener's interest. For example one candidate I worked with was a buyer and replied: "I shop with other people's money." That'll get them asking for more and then you can deliver a lengthier description of your skills and experience.

4. The holidays are a great time to get out there. Volunteering, seasonal hiring, and all sorts of opportunities present themselves for moving out of your immediate circle of contacts. Take advantage of as many of these as you can that will comfortably allow you time to pursue other holiday networking activities. Who knows whom you might meet and where such opportunities might lead?

Check back next week to find out how you can use holiday greetings to move your search forward. And remember to take full advantage of this very special time of year. Serendipity abounds in December--so celebrate, present yourself with confidence, and anticipate success!

Mary Eileen Williams is a Nationally Board Certified Career Counselor with a Master's Degree in Career Development and twenty years' experience assisting midlife jobseekers to achieve satisfying careers. Her book, Land the Job You Love: 10 Surefire Strategies for Jobseekers Over 50, is a step-by-step guide packed with tools to turn age into an advantage--providing mature applicants with techniques to successfully navigate the modern job market as well as strategies that give them the edge over the competition. Visit her website at Feisty Side of and celebrate your sassy side!