Make the Most of Your Winter Break to Pursue Your Career Goals
As winter approaches, thoughts turn to the holidays, time off, and the approach of a new year. These events can make it tempting to lean so far into personal activities that it’s easy to put career pursuits on hold. While it’s understandable to relax and recharge, career-minded people can also use their winter break to make progress on professional goals from skill development to finding a new job. These nine savvy tips will help you stay open to new opportunities in your professional life, even while you’re enjoying your winter break.
Rest and Have Fun
Since we’re talking about careers, this idea may initially sound counterintuitive. However, maintaining a balance between work and play is key at all times of the year. We perform at our best when we’re refreshed—in fact, studies show that people who make rest a priority are more energetic, focused, and productive when they’re at the office. So, embrace your winter break and do things that inspire and excite you. It’ll help you return to your job ready to tackle new challenges, including the steps below.
Reflect on Your Career Trajectory
In some work environments, the days before or after the seasonal holidays can be more relaxed than usual. Take advantage of slower-paced days and use open spaces in your schedule to think about your job. Consider the career goals you still would like to accomplish. Do you feel you’re on the right track to achieve them? Would some adjustments bring you into better alignment with where you’d like to be? Decide what you want to achieve career-wise, and define what you need to do to get there.
Record your Accomplishments
Winter break is a great time to recognize the successes, big and small, that you’ve experienced at work this year. Appreciating your achievements is a gift you can give yourself anytime, one that builds your confidence and sense of competence that benefits your life. Of course, formally recording your accomplishments (in a notebook, online, etc.) is also practical because your successes become something you can use when you’re ready to ask for a raise, promotion, or new job.
Update Your Personal Brand
Now that you’ve reflected on your goals and noted this year’s wins, you can use your winter break to refresh your career profile and tools. If you’ll be on a plane to travel home for a visit, use the airport time to update your resume. Refresh your LinkedIn and other social media accounts, showcasing your favorite career achievements. You’ll be ready to apply for a new role should a position open up that interests you.
Make a Mark on Your Team
If you love your job and desire a boost in salary or a promotion, you can stand out as a go-getter during the holiday season. With fellow coworkers taking time off and end-of-year projects looming with deadlines to meet, now’s the time to go the extra mile. Offer to take on extra tasks to make life easier for your teammates. Check in with your manager to see how you can help out. People will appreciate and remember this generosity.
Build New Skills
With the holiday season, many of us have automatic space in our schedules for activities beyond our everyday routine. So why not use it to learn something new that will benefit you at work? Read that career book that’s sitting on your shelf. Learn the latest software your company just rolled out. Take a class and get certified in something that adds to your professional value. Online coursework is a good choice when you have time to spare, and you can easily continue a virtual class even while traveling.
Find Ways to Give Back
Whether you celebrate the holidays or not, many people find them a time of great need. It can be a lonely time for those without anywhere to go. Volunteering opportunities are often greater during the holidays for this reason. Consider giving your time to help others. Volunteering at a local nonprofit organization is fulfilling, and it also creates a convenient way to interact with new people who you can add to your network. You can also give back to your network by recommending others on LinkedIn or chatting with others about their career goals and how you can help them.
Connect with Your Community
Winter breaks, vacations, and holiday parties provide excellent ways to build up your network. Reach out to people you haven’t seen lately and set up a coffee date. Send cards or emails to check in. Make the most of these opportunities to reconnect, both for personal enjoyment and for the career boost it might provide you or them. Let career discussions come up naturally, or plant a seed that you’d like to talk about business after the start of the year.
Continue Your Job Search
If you’re looking for a new position, remember that the holiday season, end-of-year planning, and winter weather don’t automatically put human resources on hold. Organizations that have open roles will still be interested in hearing from you. Use the winter break to research companies and career paths. Use your updated resume and LinkedIn profile to apply for open positions that excite you because, contrary to popular belief, companies are hiring all the time.
Summing It Up
Whether you want to use this season of the year to refresh and recharge, create room for career planning, or actively seek a new role, the winter break can be a fulfilling and productive period for you. Choose to pursue your opportunities for professional growth with intentionality and enthusiasm, give back, stay optimistic—and keep moving forward to set yourself in a good position for the start of the new year.