1. Build your online network over the holidays. Reconnecting with old friends and acquaintances is natural at this time of year, so reach out to them on LinkedIn (LNKD) and Facebook (FB), and get caught up with what they're doing these days. Touch base with any recruiters you may know, as well.
2. Volunteer. Many nonprofits need extra help during the holidays, and lending a hand can lead to new relationships that will help your job search. Just as important, notes career coach Nan S. Russell, "It feels great to make a difference. It ignites your self-esteem and reminds you of what's going right in your life."
3. Send cards to companies where you've interviewed. To remind hiring managers that you're still interested in working with them, executive coach Camille Roberts suggests sending a holiday card, and maybe even a small gift like a little box of chocolates, along with a note. "Ask if there are any openings where you might be a better fit" than the job you previously applied for, she says.
4. Thank everyone who has helped you in your job search so far. Holiday cards are a great way to express appreciation to networking contacts, recruiters, and anyone else you've been in touch with about your job hunt -- and to stay on their radar screens for opportunities they may know about right now.
5. Go to holiday parties. Professional-association get-togethers are particularly helpful. "I know hiring managers who go to holiday parties looking for people to hire," says e-Executives' Urschel. Once you get there, adds Jeff Lipschultz, president of Southlake, Texas, recruiting firm A-List Solutions, "make it your goal to meet all the people there. Any one of them could be a hiring manager or a recruiter."
6. Throw your own party. "Invite friends for dinner, cookies, coffee, or a glass of holiday cheer at your home or in a restaurant, bakery, or bar," suggests Barbara Safani, Job-Hunt.org's finance industry job search expert. "This is a great, low-key way to practice your pitch and reconnect with people who may be able to help you with your search."
Speaking of parties, New Year, New Job! includes a chapter about handling the party chitchat that tends to make unemployed people uncomfortable. "Prepare what I call 'Teflon' answers to questions you dread," says Phyllis Mufson, a career coach at Job-Hunt.org who specializes in helping Baby Boomers find new jobs. An example of a Teflon answer: If someone says, "It's so awful that you got laid off. How are you?" you can reply, "My old job was great, but I'm excited to find new ways to use my skills. Thanks for your concern." Then steer the conversation to less awkward ground.