The holidays come and go so quickly. Jan. 1 will be here before you know it, and many of you will look back on the past year and feel depressed and agitated. Your job searches were filled with missed opportunities and mistakes, and you will feel victimized by the horrible economy. Then you'll stuff your face with cookies and pastries and tell yourself that no one is hiring right now. There's nothing you can do about your unemployment until the beginning of next year.

Fortunately, you are wrong. There are five easy things you can do right now, in December, while you're cramming your face with sugar and carbs, to set yourself up for a successful job search in January.

Update your LinkedIn profile so that it's 100 percent complete.
This applies to all job seekers. Everywhere. Do it. If you are a customer service representative in Chicago or a flight attendant in Montana, you want an up-to-date LinkedIn account because AOL, Google and Bing are actively indexing every profile on that site. This is important because recruiters and HR professionals are using search engines to type in a few words about their job postings and find candidates. An updated LinkedIn profile means that you can be found easily on the Internet, and we all know that recruiters and HR professionals don't like to work too hard. Take 10 minutes and complete your LinkedIn profile. It's the single-most important thing you can do in December.

Use social media and search engines to clean up your act.
Create a series of professional profiles on Facebook, Google and other high-profile and heavily trafficked social networks so that the very first thing that comes up when someone searches your name is your résumé and qualifications -- and not your pictures from Cabo.

Make sure recruiters can reach you easily.
If a recruiter or company has to struggle to contact, it's over. You won't get the interview. When publishing your résumé and profile online, use an easy and relatively simple email address. Your first initial and last name will work.

There's another easy way to be found. You can use a free service called Google Voice to create a phone number that is dedicated to your job search. Publish that number without worrying about stalkers. Although you are worried about privacy, it's important that hiring managers and recruiters be able to reach you without overcoming a series of obstacles. You are not a celebrity. It's time to be found so you can get back to work.

Work smarter, not harder, on finding job opportunities.
Companies are refining their career Web sites so that search engines index their job postings like Web pages. You can automate your job search by creating a Google Alert. You'll get a daily email with a list of jobs in your area. Even though I am not looking for a job, I created an alert using the keywords HR JOB NORTH CAROLINA so I can see the new opportunities in my area. You can also use a free and automated job search engine like Indeed to make your life easier, too.

• Get yourself on Twitter and find people who are hiring.
Lots of people complain that Twitter is too noisy and narcissistic. I recommend using the site like a search engine. Create a professional account, which helps to bury the more incriminating stuff on the Internet, and start searching for jobs related to your career field.

First things first, though: Pick a professional name and avatar to represent yourself. Then visit the search function on Twitter and type in your ideal job title + your geographic location. See who is advertising for that job, and start a conversation if it seems like a good fit. Be interesting. Ask how you can submit your résumé. Offer the names of other candidates if the job isn't right for you.

Furthermore, there are companies out there like Tweetajob that link job seekers and companies quickly and easily. If there's a free and easy way to find a job on a site like Twitter, get on that opportunity like a dog on a bone.

There are more than five simple ways to find a job in January, but all career advice comes with a caveat. You need to stop waiting for an opportunity to fall in your lap. You need to get out there, scrape the Internet for leads, and ultimately convince a recruiter or HR professional that you're a likable human being with decent job skills who won't cause too many problems if hired.

Career advisers can point you in the direction of an opportunity, but you have to find a way to show that you are the right candidate for the job. It starts by putting down the cookies and the eggnog and vowing to take yourself more seriously in the new year. I know you can do it. Now pass the pie.

Laurie Ruettimann is a writer, speaker and HR exec with Fortune 500 experience. She blogs at Punk Rock Human Resources.

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