With the smell of fireworks hanging in the air, we are rushing headlong into the Lunar New Year holiday. Common sense tells us to put our feet up and spend time with the family, and begin the job search again with a new sense of urgency after the holiday. After all, hiring managers are winding down, human resource professionals are busy with annual pay reviews, promotions and the endless year-end reports. However, a lot of evidence would suggest that this is currently the best time to be searching for a new job. Firstly, your competition (i.e. other job hunters) is probably thinking “I’ll wait”; this makes it the best time for you to step up your job search. Research shows that calling off your job search is very counter-productive; instead of waiting, now is the time to redouble your effort to find that ideal new job, and gain an advantage over your relaxed competitors. The other factor is, recruitment budgets are still there and HR people are still coming to work every day, looking for candidates. There is a great deal of pressure on managers to have people in place before the Golden period begins. “During this time of year, I get so many calls from managers telling me how urgent their vacancies are and how few CVs they are receiving. They push me very hard. Candidates who make themselves available for interview, who answer their phones, who return emails the same day have a huge advantage at this time of year,” a Shanghai-based colleague told me. So what are some of the proactive things that you can do? For one thing, make sure that your online presence is up to date. Touch base with any recruiters and HR people who have connected with you through LinkedIn during the past year. Make sure your profile clearly details your experience and strengths. It’s a great time to get in touch with any companies you interviewed within the past year. Send an e-card wishing them a happy holiday and remind them that you are available; they might have a new opening in their organisation that you are unaware of. Thirdly attend as many of those holiday parties as you can. Every business chamber and networking organisation holds one at this time of year; get out there and press the flesh. And whilst we are on the topic, let’s remind ourselves of the few key points when planning a career change: Be very clear about what you bring to the table. Start by writing down your key skills and accomplishments, and then build the case for hiring you around those. Make sure that you are applying for the right jobs. It is too easy to fire your CV off to a hundred online postings that mention one key word you are interested in, but this is a waste of your time. Be realistic, and only target organisations that you want to work for. Use your network to better target your ideal jobs. Use Linkedin to see how many of your connections work in the company you are applying to. Once you have got the interview, it is really important to be able to convince people that you have what it takes to succeed. Employers are looking for good cultural fits; you have to show that you understand that. Be clear about your salary and your expectations. Any sign of an ‘errrr’ or an ‘ummm’ before answering raises doubts in the interviewers mind. Demonstrate your worth by providing clear examples of where and when you have exceeded expectations in a similar role. Follow the steps above and you’ll beat the competition to your new job, even in the so-called slowest period of the year. Author Jonathan Edwards is a Partner at Antal International China (Shanghai).