It’s beginning to feel a lot like *that* time of year again, and if you’re between jobs it’s not easy to keep your spirits up during the dark winter months.

Although the recruitment market (like most others) winds down in late November and early December for the holiday period to enjoy a spot of ice skating and mulled wine, it picks up with a vengeance in January and February. Will you be ready?

Here’s how to make the seasonal slowdown work for you, so you’re ready to roll in the New Year.

Spruce up your CV and skills
Rather than spending the equivalent of a working day hitting ‘refresh’ on your job boards of choice, the time is better spent on doing quick online courses and workshops that add some extra sparkle to your CV. Think brushing up on your interviewing skills; perfecting your ‘elevator pitch’ just in case; having some public speaking coaching.

If you’re looking to pass on your own hard-earned skills, you could look at mentoring young people (perhaps for Young Enterprise or The Prince’s Trust) or newly established businesses (through the likes of PeoplePlus). These are great for your LinkedIn profile, CV and marketing collateral, not to mention good for the soul – plus, your network will open up.

Warm up some cold contacts
Summer is a great time for networking events – the long and (hopefully) warm evenings are conducive to long conversations over cold drinks and canapes. Winter – not so much. If you’ve been out and about during the summer, winter is the perfect time to reconnect with people who will largely be at their desks too.

Make yourself visible online and position yourself as an authority in your field. Set your LinkedIn profile changes (such as skills and experience) to update on your contact’s timelines, get involved with industry-related group conversations, and post blogs about the industry and what you’re up to.

Get some perspective

Coaching and informational interviews can be invaluable to your personal and professional development. The former gives you an objective, but inspirational, view of your development areas and strengths.

The latter gives you a short block of quality time with an expert in your field, or maybe even another field that you’re looking to break into. It offers a win-win situation: free advice and industry insight for you, and the warm glow of mentoring for the interviewer, without the feeling that their brains have been picked for free.

Take time for self-care
If you suffer from ‘winter blues’, there are ways to brighten those shorter days. At the literal end there are lightboxes, and making sure to get at least 20 minutes of natural sunlight during crisp and sunny daylight hours.

A ‘dry’ period of work also frees up time to get in some good physical workouts for a welcome hit of endorphins – and those ‘happy hormones’ also help keep your mental health in check.

Being unemployed at this time of year can be anxiety-inducing, so remember that the slowdown is just temporary; going to multiple interviews when the market picks up can bring its own challenges.

Look after yourself and make the most of the seasonal downtime – and you’ll be in the best possible place to land that great new job.