A lot of people decide to put their job hunt on hold between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, but that’s a big mistake. There are a lot of extra job openings in December. New budgets take effect in January, but human resources received the job requisitions for the budgeted new jobs in November, and they are filled before January 1. At the same time, you have less competition than usual, because people think it’s a bad time to hunt. These factors combine to make December one of the best times of year to find a job.

To find out the best ways to leverage December cheer for the job hunt, I talked to Cynthia Shapiro, former human resource executive and author of Corporate Confidential. (Thanks to Kay for recommending her.)

For one thing, the rules for follow-up are different in December, according to Shapiro. “You should not contact a hiring manager to follow up. It’s so annoying, that you’re better off sending a second resume than making a call.” But you can send a holiday card as a sort of follow-up. “Everyone loves a holiday card. They can put it up in their office to show how popular they are.” Here’s an example of what the card should say: I wish you the best in the holiday season. From Samara Kattal, marketing manager hopeful.

Also, send a holiday card to a hiring manager who didn’t hire you. “A lot of people don’t work out within the first 90 days,” says Shapiro. If that’s the case with the person who got the job you didn’t, you might get a second chance by being at the top of the hiring manager’s mind

Corporate holiday parties are also a good time for job hunting. Shapiro suggests that if you have a friend who works at a company where you want a job, get your friend to bring you to the party. At the party, go right to the head of the department you want to work for and say something very short and effective like, “Happy holidays. My friend always tells me how great this company is. I am [your name]. Please call me if you are hiring. Here is my card.” The beauty of this tactic is that not only is it face time with the hiring manager, but the context makes if feel like you are one of them, even though you’re not.

Some of you might read this and say to yourself, “So what? I need a break from the hunt and I’m really busy during the holidays and I’ll start up again in January.” Don’t do that: You’ll have more competition in January, because that’s when everyone who stopped for the holidays starts up, and it’s when people who make a resolution to change jobs start their hunt. “January 1 is a crush that is comparable to the June crush from new graduates,” says Shapiro.