The holiday decorations from your cubicle are tucked into the bottom of your junk drawer and fond memories from a whirlwind month of December have begun to fade; you’re back into a work routine.
Conference call invites begin to accumulate in your inbox; you’re reduced to eating lunch at your desk; you’re hating on your commute again. The same pit-in-the-stomach feeling that beckoned you to look for a new job before Thanksgiving—then temporarily subsided amid the holiday chaos—has re-emerged.
There’s no ignoring it now. It’s like someone yelling on speakerphone. And there are no more distractions to put it on mute. You’ve got to find a better job.
The good news is that the jobs are out there: More than 200,000 were posted on Monster in the last month. The bad news is that you’ve got some competition: Today, the first Wednesday of January, marks the busiest job search day of the entire year.
In the last two years, there were 70% more job searches on the first Wednesday of the year than the average day on Monster. And five out of the top 10 search days of 2015 occurred in January. It’s apparent that a lot of people equate a new year with a new career.
Don’t let this data discourage you from applying—but do use it to develop a strategy.
Rather than getting stressed about the search, focus on what you can control. One is your stress levels. Get the jobs to come to you by signing up for new job alerts from Monster so you don’t have to fear you’re missing something good. (Plus that way you don’t have to fret about getting caught searching during the day on your work computer and having an awkward convo with your boss or coworker.)
Most importantly, don’t delay when you see a job listing you like.
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Recruiters peruse resumes upon submission and if you postpone your submission in order to create the ultimate cover letter, you’re potentially losing out on an opportunity. This is always true but it’s especially true in times of high application volume. If you wait, your prospective employer may be already in the midst of the interviewing process by the time you apply. You snooze, you lose.
Assume the recruiter is actively looking to fill the role; and take that same fervor to fuel your search as you pursue new opportunities. Generally you should apply by close of business the day you see the listing—but this month, try to get your materials in within the hour of seeing the listing.
Good luck out there!
Monster’s career expert Vicki Salemi has more than 15 years of experience in corporate recruiting and HR and is author of Big Career in the Big City. Follow her on Twitter at @vickisalemi
This piece originally appeared on Monster.com.