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New Year, New Resume

There's something fun and magical about the holiday season that serves as a welcome break from the usual grind. The downside, however, is that once the holidays are over, it's back to reality. That means hitting the gym again, rethinking your budget and, if you're looking for work, embarking on an aggressive job search.

While hiring tends to slow down significantly during the holiday season, once the new year kicks in, companies tend to start looking for new employees. In fact, January is one of the biggest hiring months across major businesses and industries.

The reason is simple: Many companies' hiring budgets refresh once the new year kicks in. That, coupled with new projects and initiatives, means January is a great time to capitalize on job opportunities. Here's how:

Have your resume and cover letters ready to go by the start of the new year. You may prefer to focus more on the festivities than tweaking your resume and writing cover letters, but the key is to be ready to go come the start of January so that you can jump on those new job postings. While you'll probably have to tailor your cover letters to the specific opportunities you're applying for, you can start by putting together some strong basic letters and adjusting their contents accordingly as you go.

Update your LinkedIn profile. If you don't have a LinkedIn profile, create one immediately. And if you do have one, make sure it's as up-to-date as your resume. According to a 2014 study by Jobvite, LinkedIn is the top social network used by recruiters to find job candidates, so be sure to take advantage by keeping your profile current.

Look for jobs daily. January is when the hiring frenzy tends to get into full swing, which means you're likely to see new jobs posted every single day. If you're serious about snagging one, commit to searching on a constant basis. This means checking general career sites like Indeed.com and Monster.com, plus reviewing the career pages for the companies you're most interested in working for.

Network like crazy. Many companies encourage employees to refer qualified candidates for open roles. If you're serious about landing a new job, now's the time to reach out to your contacts and put the word out that you're available for hire. Don't be afraid to exhaust your social and professional networks, as the more people you communicate with, the more opportunities you're likely to find.

Check in with recruiters. Remember that headhunter you met with a couple of months ago? Now's the perfect time to touch base. Most recruiters are eager to start the year off on a strong note, which means getting candidates placed right off the bat.

Read up on your dream companies. You know that company you always dreamed of working at? Now's the time to research it thoroughly. After all, you never know when a job might get posted, and you'll increase your chances of getting hired if you approach the interview process already prepared.

Of course, just because January tends to bring more job openings doesn't mean you'll find one right away, so don't get discouraged if you're still looking come month's end. Remember, too, that companies need time to review and respond to all the resumes they get, so while it's best to be prepared, you may be looking at one of those "hurry up and wait" situations. You may need to strike that ideal balance between being patient and persistent, but with any luck, you'll land the perfect job early on to start 2016 off right.

Photo by Flazingo Photos via cc