As the year winds to a close, chances are you’re thinking more about Christmas cake and New Years plans than you are about your next career move. But putting off your job search until 2017 rolls around will mean you’re starting the year off on the back foot, caught in the throng of all the other professionals who put “get a new job” on their list of New Years resolutions.

How can you get 2017 off to an explosive start? Instead of putting a new role on your Christmas wishlist, start your job search now and be proactive in your preparations. Here are some tips to help you make 2017 the best year yet and create the IT career you’ve been dreaming of.

Ninety-four per cent of employers say the holiday period is the best time to start your job search.

Follow Santa’s lead

While a lot of people are tempted to relax during the holiday period, Santa Claus is working harder than ever. If you want to make the most of this time to get ahead in the new year, take a leaf from his book and kick your job search up a gear. According to a survey from Accounting Principals, 94 per cent of employers believe that jobseekers should start their search during the holidays, rather than waiting until the new year.

Entrepreneur points out some of the advantages of job searching over the Christmas and New Year period, including less competition for roles, a demand for new hires among businesses looking to replace staff and get ready for the year ahead, and an opportunity to get new perks and bonuses during this time. In addition, many organisations will want to make the most of heightened consumer spending and roll out new products, so they may need to fill new app developer roles and digital jobs to help them prepare.

Take advantage of end-of-year social events

With all the Christmas parties, end-of-year gatherings and New Years celebrations filling up your calendar, this period is a great time to cultivate your professional network. Online career service Ladders states that growing your network is one of the most important new years resolutions you can make for your career, but with all these opportunities presenting themselves, why wait for 2017? Developing your network now paves the way for new opportunities and allows you to take advantage of festivities and good moods. Who knows, one of the new connections you make might just be your ticket to a great IT job later on.

Christmas parties are great opportunities to grow your professional network.

Put some sparkle in your personal brand

Finally, take this time to shine up your personal brand. Try to keep up-to-date with any IT innovations emerging over this period, and don’t let your LinkedIn profile be forgotten in the midst of gift shopping and Christmas pudding. Technology doesn’t stop moving at year end, so neither should you. You can use the downtime to brush up on your IT skills, and it’s also a good idea to have consistent elevator pitch ready just in case you run into your future boss at a festive function.

By putting in the effort to prepare ahead of time, you can get more out of the end-of-year period than unwanted Christmas presents and a muffin top – you’ll be in better professional shape, and you might even enter 2017 with your new IT job already in hand.